Tonsil stones, also called tonsilloliths, are whitish lumps of calcareous matter that form and accumulate in the little pockets in your tonsils called tonsillar crypts, located in the back of the throat. They are usually small, smell atrocious, and, as years as a researcher and writer of dental care and health related issues have shown me, most people who suffer from them rarely even know what they are called or that they even have them!
Though they’re usually a little hard to notice (and therefore easy to ignore), there are many symptoms associated with these stones such as discomfort in the throat even when not eating or drinking anything, pain when trying to swallow, and frequent occurrences of tonsillitis; but one of the most common and more noticeable ones is persistent (and often strong) bad breath or halitosis, which doesn’t go away easily even after you’ve already made some improvements in your general oral hygiene.
And to understand how recurrent bad breath comes from tonsil stones, we have to first understand how the stones are formed in the first place.
As tonsils aid to trap and combat bacteria and viruses in the mouth, they, unfortunately, also end up gathering tiny food particles, dead cells, mucous and other debris that ought to be none of their business. Tonsilloliths are formed when this mix is acted on by bacteria and hardens and accumulates in the crypts.
It is believed that the anaerobic bacteria that act on the debris cause foul-smelling sulphur compounds to be generated in the throat. As one study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information helped to show: 75% of the participants who measured unusually high amounts of sulphur in their mouths did, in fact, have tonsil stones, leading the researchers to conclude that having tonsil stones can increase the risk of foul breath by up to 10 times!
Needless to say, strong and persistent bad breath can have devastating social repercussions to one suffering from it; and, therefore, as much as tonsil stones are not life-threatening in any way, it’s important to know what you can do to stop your “oral plight” before it has taken too heavy a toll on your social life– if it hasn’t already!
Well, it should be pretty obvious by now: To get rid of your halitosis, you’ll have to get rid of your tonsilloliths. What may not be so obvious, though, is exactly what you can do to deal with the stones so that your plight ends.
There are a couple of options available for you; some will merely give a temporary relief from the problem, and others will provide lasting results.
Some of the more temporary solutions include the use of antibiotics (to help combat bacterial action in the mouth), gargling with a warm saline solution mixed with aroma therapy elements (as salt is a natural antibiotic agent, and the gargling could help to dislodge the stones), and, last but not least, you can manually dislodge the stones using a simple tool like a cotton swab and a mirror for looking down your throat. Because all these do not address the deeper causes, however, the stones will continue to form again and again in the future.
Although tonsillectomy (surgical removal of the tonsils) used to be viewed as the only means for permanently treating tonsil stones in the past, this is not the case today, and is considered a little too extreme. For one thing, there have been recent studies that have linked the frequent formation of tonsil stones with diet. By cutting down on dairy products and other foods with high calcium content, for example, you can greatly minimize and ultimately eliminate their formation.
If you find that you are often plagued by tonsil stones and are in that much dire a need to end the horrible breath they cause, definitely consult your dentist or doctor about having the procedure; but, on the other hand, I’d strongly encourage you to also explore other less-invasive options as there really are great ones today that can permanently put an end to your tonsil stones and the bad breath developing from them.