Your tonsils are a crucial part of your body’s defense system. They prevent germs and debris from entering the mouth and causing an infection. Unfortunately, because they come into close contact with germs, they do occasionally get infected. While tonsillitis is the most common type of tonsil infection, tonsil stones can also occur.
What Are Tonsil Stones?
Your tonsils are filled with crevices. Bacteria, food, dead cells, mucus and other debris can become trapped in these crevices. Over time, they can turn into hard calcified balls known as tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones are white or yellow in color and can range in size from a grain of rice to a grape. They are often formed too deep in the tissue of the tonsils to be seen in a mirror.
According to research published in the Journal of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, tonsil stones are similar to the formation of plaque on our teeth.
Tonsil Stone Symptoms
For many, tonsil stones produce no symptoms. But for those who do experience symptoms, the most common ones include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Red or irritated tonsils
- Bad breath
- Pressure in the ears
Those with deeper cervices in their tonsils are more likely to develop tonsil stones. While people of all ages are susceptible, they are most often reported in teenagers.
Poor dental hygiene, chronic sinus issues and having larger tonsils are all potential causes of tonsil stones.
Tonsil Stone Treatment
For those lucky enough to not experience symptoms from their tonsil stones, treatment is not recommended.
Treatment options for those experiencing symptoms range from home remedies to medical procedures.
Vigorously gargling with saltwater can help dislodge the stones, as can energetic coughing.
Experts do not recommend trying to get rid of tonsil stones by pressing something hard like a toothbrush against your tonsils. If you want to try something, a water pick or cotton swab can be used.
Laser Tonsil Cryptolysis
This procedure uses lasers to eliminate the crevices the lodge the tonsil stones.
Radiowaves are used to transform a salt solution into charged ions, which cut through tissue without the use of heat.
This method is used to lower your bacteria counts and hinder the development and growth of tonsil stones. Antibiotics won’t treat the underlying cause of the stones.
To learn more about keeping your tonsils healthy or to schedule an appointment, contact the experts at Texas ENT & Allergy today.