My roommate in college suffered from this condition, and back then, the internet was in its nascent days, so online information regarding tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths was scarce. We did, however, manage to collect decent information regarding the matter from various print material, as well as from advice given by my roommate’s Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist. Needless to say, I was glad when the ENT finally diagnosed that my roommate’s breath issues were rooted in tonsil stones, and that there were steps he could take to remedy the situation, and help prevent tonsil stones from forming again in the future.
These stones show up as white particles on one’s throat, in the tonsil area. They are extremely odiferous, and when present, one can forget about having fresh breath. The smell projects as the person exhales. Having a conversation with a person suffering from tonsil stones is absolutely intolerable. These stones start off as small particles, but they don’t stay small for long. They quickly build layers, one on top of the other, until the stone becomes considerably larger, sometimes several millimeters in diameter. Stuck in the crypts, these stones continue to exude that unbearable, decomposing stench. In addition, some people suffering from tonsil stones feel as though something is lodged deep inside their throat.
Much has been said about the composition of tonsil stones, aka tonsilloliths, but there is consensus in the belief that the following are its primary constituents: dead white blood cells, oral bacteria, mucus secretions, and residual of enzyme action on food particles caught in the tonsil area. While tonsilloliths are neither contagious nor life threatening, they are a serious problem in that the smell is a serious affront to social interaction. The afflicted also frequently suffer from loss of confidence, not knowing when the tonsilloliths will return, as they tend to suddenly appear after long periods of absence. Those suffering from it are always mindful of its serious impact on others, and therefore are sometimes hesitant to engage in social activity. Unfortunately, there is no breath detector calibrated to detect tonsilloliths.
How to get rid of tonsilloliths
Some simply squeeze out the stone from the tonsil, by scratching and pressing the tonsil with their fingers. This direct method, though not recommended by medical professionals, has proven to be effective for some. It is, however, a hazardous method, as it can lead to bleeding and infection. Your hands must be properly sanitized before you attempt this procedure.
Another method is to use a cotton swab to push at your tonsil until any stones come out. You may want to moisten the swab to help prevent strands from getting stuck in your tonsil.
Still more use an irrigating device such as a Waterpik Irrigator. Using the lowest pressure setting, spray into the crypt areas. Note that for some people, even the lowest setting is too strong and may tear through tonsil tissue. Discontinue at the first sign of discomfort.
The most prudent method is to make an appointment with an ENT specialist. Your dentist or doctor can refer you to a good ENT. They have the tools and techniques to deal with tonsil stones properly.
One other option you may hear about is rather drastic. That is, to remove the tonsils altogether. Listen, the tonsils serve as the first line of defense against infection, and to remove it would be unwise. At any rate, your ENT will be able to discuss this further.
Once the tonsil stones have been removed, you can start looking into procedures to ensure that the tonsil stones do not return. OK, so maybe you can’t fully prevent them from coming back, but there are steps you can take to hinder their return. There are several treatments for tonsilloliths, but there is no one single treatment that will work for everyone. In general, drink plenty of water. This prevents your mouth from going dry, and keeps moisture moving throughout the oral cavity. Also, maintain good oral hygiene throughout the day. This means brushing and flossing after meals.
Food particles, dead cells from the lining of your mouth, mucous secretions, and anaerobic bacteria, all conspire to build tonsilloliths. The result is an off-white, lump that has the consistency of rice when you squish it. Sometimes it can be calcium-hard. No matter its density or size, its smell is always offensive.
Preventing Tonsil Stones
A combination of proper diet and oral hygiene is necessary to ward off tonsil stone creation. Keep your mouth moisturized at all times. Some erroneously believe that by taking antihistamines before bedtime, they will prevent nasal drip and thus discourage the forming of tonsil stones. Unfortunately, this approach also renders the mouth dry, leading to an environment conducive to bacteria activity, which then results in a higher probability of the tonsil stones being created.
Some have reported that consuming dairy products results in more tonsil stone formation. The rationale is that calcium and mucous buildup contribute to a tonsillolith-producing environment in the deep recesses of the mouth. If you feel this is the case for you, then engage in oral hygiene activity immediately following the consumption of dairy products.
Brushing one’s teeth, and cleaning one’s tongue after each meal is absolutely necessary. By engaging in consistent oral hygiene, you will prevent bacteria from gaining any momentum in terms of consuming food particles and producing odiferous by products. Use the tongue scraper to remove accumulated bacteria. Finish off with a good dose of mouthwash. When it comes to those bacteria in your mouth, take no prisoners.
Because tonsilloliths tend to grow in layers, with one building upon another, you may come across a situation where through some hard coughing, you expel part of a tonsil stone which you didn’t even know was present in your tonsil area. When this happens, it would be best to follow up with your favorite method of removing tonsil stones. The remaining tonsil stone is primed for removal, and once you accomplish that, follow through with a good dose of oral hygiene: floss, brush, scrape and mouthwash.
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