Hidden Cause of Halitosis: Tonsil Stones

tonsil stonesPreviously, we talked about the effects of ignoring your tongue in your brushing routine. If you remember, a common effect of not brushing your tongue is halitosis. Dr. Goehring is blogging from Austin, TX today to discuss a less-known cause of  bad breath, the tonsil stone.

If you’ve ever coughed up a tonsil stone, then you know exactly what I’m talking about because their smell is unforgettable. Tonsil stones are foul smelling collections of bacteria and debris that hang out on people’s tonsils. While unsightly and smelly, tonsil stones aren’t actually dangerous and they’re also easily curable.

What Causes a Tonsil Stones?

As you probably already know from grade school science classes, tonsils function as a defense mechanism to keep debris from getting in your lungs. They also filter out bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, this filtering system has its flaws. Objects like food, dirt and other elements can get caught in the crannies of your tonsils and collect dead cells and bacteria.

Our amazing bodies are able to detect when objects are stuck in the tonsils, and white blood cells are sent to attack the culprits. When the blood cells are done, they leave behind small hard calcified crumbs on the tonsils.

The majority of people just swallow the tonsil stones and go about their lives tonsil stone and halitosis-free. Other times, these crumbs can get completely stuck in groves and continue to grow. Typically, tonsil stones are found in people with poor dental hygiene or people with large tonsils- which makes sense, because the larger tonsils will catch more debris, and poor dental hygiene leads to more bacteria.

Symptoms of Tonsil Stones

Physically, tonsil stones look like small white, yellow, or grey knots on the tonsils. However, sometimes tonsil stones are buried so far in the tonsils that they aren’t visible to the human eye. Some people with tonsil stones have no symptoms whatsoever. Occasionally, they will create irritations on the tonsils.

The most obvious symptom of a tonsil stone is bad breath. The bacteria that grows on the stones creates a horrible smell. Some people with tonsil stones complain that there is something stuck in their throat or suffer from chronic sore throats.

Treatment of Tonsil Stones

The most common treatment to get rid of tonsil stones is gently scraping them off with a toothbrush. If you have a sensitive gag reflex or can’t see your stones, then you should try gargling with salt water. Gargling salt water can shake them loose. Another method to rid yourself of tonsil stones is a water flosser.

In the case that you can’t get rid of your tonsil stone at home, then you should see an ear, nose, and throat doctor, who will most likely swab them out.

Preventing Tonsil Stones

If you’ve never suffered from tonsil stones, preventing tonsil stones is easy. To prevent the formation of tonsil stones, practice good dental hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth. Brush your tongue and gargle with an antibacterial mouthwash. Flossing after every meal can also be a good method to ward off tonsil stones.

Contact Us

If you’re suffering from bad breath and aren’t sure what’s causing it, then it might be time to come in for an annual dentist appointment. Typically, your dentist will be able to determine whether you have tonsil stones. Call Dr. Goehring’s office today at (512) 892-8822 and schedule an appointment. We can answer all of your oral health quandaries and more.