Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, affect approximately 8,000 people a year and can be a source of pain, irritation, and severe bad breath. These “stones” are actually calcium carbonate deposits that form hard lumps in the tonsillar crypts. These stones are typically milky white in color and are also known as “calculus of the tonsils”. These stones are often irregular in shape and can be coughed out – small cream-colored objects between the size of a grain of sand and a pea. Many times, a person will not realize they have one and may only discover the existence after noticeably bad breath. For tonsil stones removal, many people use a throat spray or light water pressure.
Some of the most common symptoms are pain in the back of the neck or a burning sensation in the throat as the stones rub against the throat’s back wall. You may also experience difficulty swallowing, as well as inflammation in the back of the throat and sporadic coughing. Bad breath is also a very common problem that comes along with tonsil stones, thanks to the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which produce a sulfurous compound that leads to bad breath. Ear pain is also a symptom you may experience as a result of a deposit.
One of the most common causes is tonsillitis, which is an inflammation of the tonsils. It is also possible for bacteria to become trapped in tonsil clefts and multiply, leading to the formation of stones. Stones are rarely large, but will present as a cluster of small, white nodes. It is usually possible to see them with the naked eye, but they can also be confirmed through an X-Ray or CT scan.
Tonsil stone removal can often be accomplished simply through good oral hygiene and time – they will typically disappear on their own. Cotton swabs can be used to help remove tonsil stones, as can a salt-water gargle, which will loosen the stones and may remove them over time. If your they persist, you may want to talk to your doctor, who can prescribe antibiotics to help destroy stones already formed. If the stones have become infected, surgical tonsil stone removal may be necessary. Another option is the total removal of the tonsils, or a tonsillectomy, and this will remove the possibility of new tonsil stones forming. Although tonsil stones can be irritating, it is possible to completely remove them and stop the bad breath they cause.