What Are Tonsil Stones & How Can I Prevent Them?

Blonde young woman wearing a denim shirt covers her mouth with her hair because she's embarrassed about her tonsil stones

When you think about stones in the human body, you likely first think about a kidney stone or a gallbladder stone. However, these are not the only place where “stones” can develop. In certain people, tonsilloliiths (or tonsil stones) form on the tonsils when dead cells and mucus harden.

What Are Tonsil Stones?

Tonsils, the fleshy pads at both sides of the back of your throat, are lymphatic structures that function as the immune system’s first line of defense against infections that are either inhaled or ingested. The tonsils are filled with crevices and crypts that dead cells, bits of food, and mucus can get hung up on and eventually calcify into a tonsil stone.

How Do I Know If I Have Tonsil Stones?

Open your mouth, say ‘ah!’, and look into the back of your throat at your tonsils in the reflection of a mirror. If you see white or yellow debris on or tucked just inside the holes your tonsils, these may well be tonsil stones. They can also cause the following symptoms:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Ongoing cough
  • A tickle or itch in the back of your mouth or throat

What Causes Tonsil Stones?

Although the exact cause of a tonsil stone is not fully known, there are a few factors that may contribute to their development:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Large tonsils
  • Tonsils with large and/or abundant crevices, tunnels & pits
  • Chronically inflamed tonsils
  • Chronic sinus infections, leading to increased mucus production

How Can I Prevent Tonsil Stones?

  • Since mucus and bacteria are a huge part of the formation of tonsil stones, it’s important to keep your tongue clean. Try using a tongue scraper.
  • Gargle with warm salt water. This can help relieve some of the discomfort associated with tonsil stones, as well as help them dissolve.
  • Gargle and rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash every day. Mouthwashes with alcohol lead to dry mouth, which encourages the growth of bacteria and allows it to build up, sometimes resulting in tonsil stones.
  • Stay hydrated with water! Water will flush away bacteria and stop it from building up. It also allows for a healthy flow of saliva.
  • Limit your sugar intake. The consumption of sugar results in plaque and bacteria buildup.

Reach Out to Our Expert Team!

Although tonsil stones are ugly, they are usually completely harmless. If you are experiencing discomfort from tonsil a stone, call our office and make an appointment. Dr. Riley or Dr. Bobo will examine your mouth and see if you are a candidate for more interventional solutions.

Contact Us

Oakboro Family Dentistry

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