Small but mighty tonsils are a pair of lymph nodes located in the back of the throat. Each tonsil composes of soft tissue mass. They have an important role in our body’s immune system to fight against infection, but sometimes can be susceptible to infection themselves.
Another type of tonsil-related ailment is tonsil stone, which mostly affects adults. Read to learn more about tonsil stone, causes, symptoms, and it’s treatment.
What are the Tonsils Stones?
Unlike other types of stones found in the kidney or gallbladder, tonsil stones are found in the mouth. Tonsils stones (also known as tonsilloliths) are calcium deposits of debris trapped on your tonsils. It occurs when food, dead skin cells, or mucus become lodged in tonsils leading to the rare form of bacteria causing infections.
They are typically light yellow or white in colour but can be too deep in the throat, making it hard to see it at all. Three types of tonsil stone are:
- Pharyngeal – The tonsil type found in the back of your throat
- Palatine – Located on the sides of your throat
- Lingual – Near the back (base) of your tongue
Causes of Tonsil Stones
Tonsils are made up of tunnels, crevices and pits referred to as tonsil crypts. Distinct types of debris can build up in these pockets. Bacteria feed upon this buildup, causing an odour. Over time, this food debris hardens into a one or small formation of tonsil stone. Causes of tonsil stone are many but often come down to poor oral hygiene. Here are a few common causes of tonsil stone:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Chronic sinus problem
- Inflamed or large tonsils
Detecting the symptoms can be a difficulty. Others may notice the signs before you do. This is because that common sign of tonsil stone is bad breath and foul odour. Besides this symptom, there are several other signs you may notice.
Signs & Symptoms
The symptom for tonsil stone include:
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- White debris
- Swallowing difficulty
- Ear pain
- Pus or white discharge from the tonsils
- Swelling in tonsils
- Sleep disorders breathing
If you seek any of the above signs of tonsil stone, then you must seek medical attention. An ENT doctor should decide on the best treatment for tonsil stone or inflamed tonsils.
Small tonsil stone is not noticeable. They are white or yellowish spots that may range in size of a pea. However, if they’re large, they can be easily visible.
Preventing Tonsil Stones
The best thing anyone can do to prevent tonsil stone is to practice oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice per day and rinsing it with an alcohol-free mouthwash daily will help you keep your mouth and throat healthy. We also recommended paying a consistent visit to an ENT specialist to assure your throat is safe.
However, gargling will not work for everyone. Sometimes, tonsil stone can be severe and may require invasive methods such as surgery. It is difficult to determine when the tonsil stone is severe and when it’s not. When in doubt, you must make an appointment with the doctor. Here are some home remedies to prevent tonsil stone naturally:
- Gargling with salt water daily
- Consume plenty of water
- Quit smoking
- Avoid consuming alcohol
- Limit dairy consumption
- Treat sinus or allergy infections
- Reduce drinking carbonated beverages
Tonsil Stones Treatment and Surgery
The treatment for tonsil stone includes:
- Medication: Your ENT doctor may advise antibiotics to reduce side effects or help to reduce bacteria but cannot treat the stone.
- Surgical Removal: An ENT surgeon will remove tonsil stone if unusually large or causing problems.
- Tonsillectomy: Long-term tonsils might require surgical removal through tonsillectomy It is a permanent method of tonsil stone removal.
How Long Does Tonsil Stone Last?
The duration of the tonsil stone last depends on several factors. Sometimes, tonsil stones dissolve or dislodge on their own in short-time. They may last for weeks if the bacteria continue to grow. If untreated, tonsil stones may last for years.
Why are Children More Prone to Tonsil Stones?
Children who suffer frequent episodes of tonsillitis often form tonsil stones. However, the tonsils shrink back on their own by the time the child reaches the age of 10. Consequently, the tonsillar crypts (holes and folds) that caused the stones to disappear, and it requires no treatment.
Need Help With Tonsil Stones?
Sometimes surgery is the most suitable treatment for tonsil stone. If you aren’t sure if you’re suffering from tonsil stone or what to do, then it’s time to visit an otolaryngologist specialist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor).
Your doctor can usually diagnose tonsil stone with a physical exam. If they hide in the folds of your tonsils, you might need imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans, to spot them. For more information about tonsil stone or to have them removed book an appointment with Adventis ENT Clinic today.