Tonsil stones are not scary as they may sound but can cause a lot of suffering if timely treatment is not met out. Tonsil stones are caused due accretion of bacteria and debris in the vault of tonsil stones. The tonsil stones are medically also known as tonsilloliths or tonsilliths which can be caused by:
- Substances such as food, dirt and other harmful particles can accumulate in the groves on the facade of tonsils. The tonsils protect our body from foreign cells and bacteria that can easily slip into our lungs.
- Once the white blood cells are finished fighting with the harmful bacteria, there are hard particles that are left behind which create the environment for the formation of tonsil stones.
In some people, the symptoms may not be visible and in some people, the tonsil stones can aggravate various symptoms:
- Irritation in the throat or redness in the area of the tonsils.
- Foul smell from the mouth or bad breath caused due to growing bacteria on the stones which release the foul smell.
- Constant feeling of something being stuck in the throat and sore throat.
- Chronic and recurring tonsillitis.
- Dehydration, constipation, and bleeding are some other symptoms.
Tonsil stones are sometimes visible to the naked eye via a through observation in the mirror. These are yellow, white or grey in color and appear as nodes on the tonsils.
Typically, tonsil stones can be seen as white, yellow or grey nodes on the tonsils. The stones can grow up to 1 to 2 millimeters or even 1 centimeter.
Various treatment options are available for treating tonsil stones:
- The simplest one is to scrap them off using a toothbrush or a wet cotton swab.
- Gargling with luke warn salty water can help in dislodging them.
- Water floss like a Waterpik can be used in the removal of stones that have calcified on the tonsils.
- Visiting the ENT specialist near to you in extreme conditions of tonsil stones is a must. The doctor can offer antibiotics and other modes of surgical treatment to get rid of tonsil stones quickly.
- Complete or partial removal of tonsil stones is also advised in extreme cases through tonsillectomy and cryptolysis.
- At home remedies such as the use of wet cotton swabs, lime water consumption, drinking plenty of water and oral irrigator can also help in removal of tonsil stones.
Prevention is the best cure; the saying goes true for tonsil stones. The best route of prevention of tonsil stones is to daily practice a good oral hygiene regime. Brushing teeth and cleaning the tongue after two major meals of the day can help keep the tonsil stones away. Flossing of teeth daily helps in keeping harmful bacteria at bay. Doctors also advise gargles every day before bedtime using solutions available in the market or a homemade solution (water and hydrogen peroxide). Alcohol-based mouthwash solutions can prove chronic for tonsil stones hence doctors strictly advise against using them.