If you’re suffering from bad breath, it might not be your technique in brushing your teeth, or worse, halitosis. It could be your tonsils, or rather, tonsil stones. You probably have never heard of them before, as tonsil stones are not a common topic of discussion! However, despite the absence of tonsil stones in the media or in the stories around the water cooler, this is illness is really common. There are no set stats, but a big population of New Zealanders suffer from this condition.
Let’s take a look at symptoms, treatment and prevention. Soon you’ll be an expert!
Tonsil Stones: What are they?
Tonsil stones are little lumps of minerals such as calcium, ammonia, phosphorus, magnesium and carbonate. They form on the tonsils, mainly the palatine ones, but can also present in the lingual tonsils. They’re stones of calcified debris that get trapped in the tonsils. Your tonsils are made up of nooks and crannies, where bacteria, mucus and even dead cells can get trapped. This debris accumulates in white stones which can range in weight from .3g to a whopping 42. Not surprisingly, tonsil stones are one of the major causes of bad breath. More common in children than in adults, they are most common in people who have previously suffered inflammation in their tonsils.
Treatment for Tonsil Stones
In addition to the bad breath that accompanies tonsil stones, you can also feel discomfort when swallowing depending on the size of the stones. Treatment, of course, depends on the size: for smaller stones you can use at home remedies but for more serious cases of tonsil stones you’ll need medical intervention.
Here are some of the best home remedies for treating tonsil stones:
Drink More Water
Drinking more water is the simplest and most effective remedy for treating tonsil stones. As you know, water keeps your body hydrated and creates an environment free of bacteria. Drinking fresh, clean water regularly helps clean any debris and other materials in your mouth and throat therefore it prevents substances from accumulating in the tonsils.
Love Lemons and Limes
Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C which is instrumental in removing tonsil stones, so making a soothing and healing drink will help you remove them. Simply mix 3 tablespoons of lemon with warm water and 1 teaspoon of honey. If you don’t have lemons, limes work just as well. The acidity will help dislodge the tonsil stones and honey is a great anti-bacterial salve too! Drink this as often as you can until you see results.
Salt Water Gargle
Salt water gargling is an excellent way to cure tonsil stones. Regular gargling with salt water or non-alcoholic mouth wash will help prevent accumulation of debris as well as eliminate any foul smell caused by the existing stones. Plus, if you have a sore throat, gargling with saltwater will help get rid of it. Just mix 2 tbsp of sea salt with 2 litres of warm water. Stir to dissolve and gargle away!
You Are What You Eat
The debris that gets trapped within your tonsils can come from dead cells, mucus, and the food that you eat. But eating certain foods can also help you with embarrassing tonsil stones. For instance, garlic and onions have anti-bacterial properties. As a home remedy, you can chew raw garlic and onion to get the full benefits of these properties, which will help you with the tonsil stones and any other oral infections you might have. Or course, then you’ll have some pretty garlicky and oniony breath! But hey, your tonsil stones will be gone and its nothing a good mouthwash can’t handle!
If you’re not into eating raw garlic and onions then eating natural yogurt is a good remedy. The probiotics in natural, unsweetened yogurt are made up of good bacteria that will not only attack the bad bacteria causing your tonsil stones, but will prevent future occurrences. And it’s also delicious!
No matter what you choose to eat to help you with your tonsil stones, the fact of the matter is this: eating the proper diet will help remove and prevent tonsil stones. Have a diet rich in vitamins and probiotics will keep you healthy. Too much dairy increases the mucus and calcium which can lead to tonsil stones occurring more regularly. A balanced diet is the answer to prevention and great health!
Medical Treatments for Tonsil Stones
If you’ve tried the above home remedies and have altered your diet but you’ve still got tonsil stones you also have options. Tonsil stones are embarrassing but they can also be painful and you don’t have to learn to live with them. You can choose to remove your tonsils, treat them medically, or take antibiotics. Depending on whether they formed from a viral infection or bacterial, your doctor will know how to treat them. Through a simple swabbing on the back of your throat with a cotton swab, you doctor will determine the cause of your tonsil stones and prescribe the necessary treatment.
A tonsillectomy is a minor surgical procedure to completely remove the tonsils and any stones that come with them! This is more of a last resort when the symptoms become unbearable. It is often recommended when patients experience persistent bad breath, swollen tonsils and enlargement of tonsil stones that makes it difficult to swallow food.
Tonsils play a big part of the immune system and completely removing them isn’t a decision you should make lightly. A partial tonsillectomy is an option that should be considered. Both procedures are painful and have a recovery period of 2 weeks.
Cryptolysis is another medical treatment that involves using a laser to remove tonsil stones.
This method is less painful and the recovery process is shorter than tonsillectomies. Patients who choose this treatment resume their diets and normal activities within a week, but the treatment isn’t fool proof. While it may remove the tonsil stones for the time being, because the tonsils are left intact, the stones can form again. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best treatment for you.
Tonsil stones might be bothering you now, but they won’t forever. Now you know how they’re formed and what you can do to treat them and prevent them. Maintaining good oral hygiene is paramount as it’s the bacteria in the mouth that causes the formation of tonsil stones in the first place. Be sure to brush your teeth regularly, gargle and tongue scrape to avoid getting tonsil stones in the future.