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Tonsil Stones: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

by Mehr Jan · November 10, 2020

This comprehensive guide gives you detailed information about tonsil stones, how they develop, causes, symptoms and treatments. This information will equip you to understand changes in your tonsils and make you aware if you need to see a doctor.

  • Tonsils and its types
  • What are Tonsil Stones?
  • What are the Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?
  • What is the Diagnosis Process of Tonsil Stones?
  • What are the treatments for tonsil stones?

1.

Tonsils and Their Types

Tonsils are a soft tissue mass similar in composition to lymph nodes. These are located at the back of your throat. These are covered in pink mucus and are part of our lymphatic system. They are also known as chronic tonsillitis.
Our lymphatic system is basically our defense against infections and toxins. It is a network of tissues and organs that help us get rid of toxins that enter our bodies. The organs, tissues and vessels (veins and capillaries) connected with lymphatic system carry a fluid called lymph.
This liquid contains white blood cells (lymphocytes) that are the army of our body against foreign particles. If the spleen (part of lymphatic system) detects any bacteria or foreign invader in the lymph, it produces white blood cells to fight the invader.
This goes on to show that lymphatic system is an important part of our body’s immune system of which tonsils are a part. Although, there might occur some conditions which may result in tonsil stones. Having tonsils removed is a wise decision to avoid problems.

Types of Tonsils:

identify the tonsils you have

There are three types of tonsils in our body. These three types of tonsils: pharyngeal tonsils, commonly known as adenoids, palatine tonsils and lingual tonsils.
Palatine tonsils are the most talked about as they are found in your throat and sometimes cause tonsillitis or infection through tonsil stones. All tonsils are not harmful; a small minority go on to cause tonsillitis.

2.

What are Tonsil Stones?

Consider your tonsils as traps whose job is to catch any foreign organism i.e. bacteria, viruses incoming with your food. The tonsils have crypts or holes. These crypts become the site a tonsil stone is formed. Food particles, bacteria, viruses, dead skin cells etc. are trapped inside. They impact your good oral hygiene.
These foreign objects stimulate your immune system that send white blood cell to the site. The action of these cells leaves behind calcifications that result in the form of stones. Initially they start as a small soft mass and harden over time to become stones.
Generally, these stones can get swallowed but sometimes they get stuck in your tonsils and over time increase in size.
Tonsil stones, or tonsillitis, are hard, white/yellowish accumulation or calcification that happens in the crypts of the tonsils. They happen because of bacteria or food particles that get stuck in your tonsils.

Are Tonsil Stones Bad for You?

If you develop tonsil stones but it does not negatively impact your living, then it is not bad for you. You can live with it and not have it removed. In some cases, they do produce a certain bad odor and sore throat.
Additionally, the presence of tonsil stones may also indicate some other health problems like poor dental hygiene or infection.
What Causes Tonsil Stones? (H2)
Tonsil stones are formed when a food particle or bacteria gets stuck in the tonsil. The action of white blood cells produces a calcification of sorts at the site. If the stone gets stuck at the site, it can cause infection in some cases. It is also known to produce bad breath.
There are some potential causes that can produce tonsil stones:

  • Poor oral health
  • Sinus issues
  • Large tonsils

These problems contribute towards occurrence of tonsil stones in your throat.

3.

What are the Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?

persistent coughing is a tonsil symptom

Following are some of the symptoms of tonsil stones:

  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath
  • Persistent coughing
  • Tonsils inflammation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Visible white/yellow stones in your tonsils
  • Growth in the size of tonsil stones
  • Ear pain
  • Chronic inflammation because of infection

What is Tonsillitis and What Are Its Symptoms?

Tonsillitis is an infection that happens in your tonsils because of the stone. It causes inflammation in your throat. Following are some symptoms of tonsillitis:

  • Inflammation
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Head and body aches
  • Affecting ear, nose and throat normal functioning

It is in the case of tonsillitis which is the infection and inflammation of your tonsils that you might consider to rid of tonsil stones.

4.

What is the Diagnosis Process of Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones are quite visible on the wall of your throat that can be seen in examination by a medical practitioner. As mentioned before, they appear as small stones of white or yellowish color that can vary from the size of a rice grain to a pea.
The tonsil stones can increase in size such that they become visible from the outside and cause swelling. But this happens quite rarely.
In order to better understand the positioning of the stone that are not visible, the doctor might suggest a CT Scan or MRI to conclusively diagnose your condition

How to Prevent Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones can happen to anyone which is why it is important to counter the causes of tonsil stones. You should see ways to fight infections:

  • Make sure that you maintain excellent dental hygiene by brushing, flossing and using mouthwash. It is also important to clean the back of your tongue.
  • Hydration is also important, dry mouth is more susceptible to creating tonsil stones
  • Stop smoking
  • Gargling with salt water can also help.

Home Remedies for Tonsil Stones:

soothe your throat with home remedy

There are some famous home remedies that have been popular with treating tonsil stones. There is no scientific research backing them, but it has anecdotal evidence backing it up. You can try these out as they don’t pose any potential side effects. Following are some example:

  • Saltwater gargle: gargling mouth with warm saltwater and soothing the pain
  • Gargling with vinegar: helps soothe pain
  • Lozenges: help relieve soreness or dryness in throat
  • Removing by applying pressure with finger: this procedure should only be performed if the stone is in sight and reach, it can also increase further risk of infection therefore it is important that you be cautious while attempting anything like this.
  • Warm water with honey: helps relieve sore throat and dryness
  • Ice chips: eating ice chip or other cold food can help numb the back of throat and relieve pain.
  • Aggressive coughing: can help dislodge any stones stuck in your throat

5.

What are the Treatments for Tonsil Stones?

Denture adhesives are pastes or powder that are needed by people whose dentures do not fit them well. These adhesives help dentures stay in place. Shrinking bones and gaps caused are filled by denture adhesives in order to counter fitting problems of dentures.
Denture adhesives enhance stability and comfort of dentures in a patient’s mouth. There are two types of denture adhesives: paste and powder applications. Some people consider powder application easy to use as excess powder is easier to remove than paste after application.

All tonsil stones do not require treatment. You can learn to live with them. If you don’t have any symptoms, you do not need to remove them.
Following are the types of treatments for tonsil stones:

Medications

Different kind of antibiotics and medicines can help with growth bacteria and other germs and infections caused by it. The only problem is that they cannot cure the underlying cause that id causing these stones.
It is also important to remember that once a stone is created in tonsils, there are chances that they can happen again. Therefore, it is important to adopt preventive measures to discourage their growth.

Surgical Removal or Tonsillectomy

Surgery can be used to remove tonsils that have grown in size and are a cause of extreme discomfort to the patient. This procedure is called tonsillectomy. This is an invasive procedure and done with anesthesia.

Laser Tonsil Cryptolysis

This procedure uses laser to destroy crypts inside the tonsils. These crypts are the areas in which stones get stuck. Laser eliminates those pockets and remove tonsil stones from there. It is a non-invasive procedure and quite painless. Anesthesia is used in this procedure.

Coblation Cryptolysis

Radio waves are used to make a solution with charged ions. These ions are then used to eliminate and cut through those crypts where stones are lodged. This process eliminates those crypts that cause tonsil stones.

Complications

If the tonsil stones increase in size, it might also cause inflammation and infections. The tonsils will have to be removed. Doctor’s consultations are necessary in this situation.
Another complication could also be deep infection of the tonsil called abscess. However, these complications are quite rare.

Complications of Tonsil Stones

While there are rare complications of having tonsil stones, however, they are possible.

One of the most serious complications is a deep infection of the tonsil or abscesses that may result from stones in your tonsils.

Moreover, large tonsils can damage and disrupt normal tonsil tissues and can lead to significant swelling, inflammation, and infections.

Thus, the tonsil stones that are linked to tonsil infections may also need surgery.

Are Tonsil Stones Contagiuos?

No! Not all tonsil stones are contagious. These are made of material biofilm. and in your mouth, a biofilm is a combination of your own mouth’s bacteria and fungi interacting with the chemistry of your mouth.

This mixture attaches itself to the moist surface in your mouth.

In the case of tonsil stones, the material becomes hardened within the tonsils.

Another common biofilm in your mouth is plaque.

It is important to note that biofilm also plays a role in the development of cavities and gum diseases.

You Can Save Yourself from these Problems…

Tonsil stones are quite common and very rare to cause any complications. It is important that you adopt preventive measures from the very beginning to remain safe from these problems. These are also easily treatable so there is no need to worry.
Remember, it is important to have great dental hygiene as it not only saves you from tonsil stones but also other dental problems and fresh breath. Using a cotton swab to check if you have any germs and issues leading to tongue problems is a good tactic. Visit your dentist regularly to keep your oral hygiene up to mark.

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