This is not the first time we’ve talked about bad breath, but it’s been a while since we’ve discussed tonsil stones. If you’re suffering from bad breath (also known as halitosis), and you’ve tried everything under the sun to improve your condition, it’s possible that you have tonsil stones. But what are tonsil stones? Today we’ll discuss everything you need to know about tonsil stones including what they are, how to prevent them and methods for removing them.
What are Tonsil Stones?
Most of us don’t give much thought to our tonsils, unless our throat hurts to the point that we have to have them removed. However, your tonsils are part of your lymphatic system which plays a key role in defending your body from bacteria and viruses that can make you sick. If you were to examine your tonsils under a microscope, you’d see that they have small holes in them that are called crypts. These crypts trap bacteria and viruses that your immune system can attack with white blood cells.
Unfortunately, from time to time, these crypts can form tonsil stones which look like small white chunks. Also known as tonsilliths, these chucks are created from all the bacteria, food particles and other debris that enters your mouth; and they release sulfur which can cause bad breath. While these stones often emerge on their own, many times the only way to rid yourself of them is to enlist the support of a doctor (typically an ear, nose and throat specialist). Your Raleigh dentist can assist in referring you to the right person.
Once they’re removed, you’ll want to do everything you can to prevent them from ever occurring again.
How do you prevent Tonsil Stones?
Much like kidney stones, some people are more susceptible to tonsil stones than others. If you’re one of those lucky individuals that are prone to tonsil stones, there are a number of ways to prevent them.
1. Gargle with Warm Salt Water
Warm salt water is every mother and grandmother’s go-to solution when it comes to healing a sore throat, but it’s also a great way to rinse small food particles out of your tonsil crypts before they become tonsil stones. You can also regularly gargle with mouth rinse to prevent tonsil stones from forming.
2. Stop Smoking
For whatever reason, cigarette smokers tend to develop tonsil stones more frequently than non-smokers. Therefore, if you’re suffering from tonsil stones, there’s a chance that smoking is part of the problem.
3. Use a Water Pick (or Flosser)
If you’ve ever used a water pick or water flosser, you know how powerful they can be. Not only are they great at lifting plaque from your teeth, but they are also quite effective at forcing out any debris from your tonsil crypts so that tonsil stones are unable to form. Pro tip: use it in the shower.
4. Avoid Dairy
In addition to a number of other ailments, the calcium in dairy products seems to be a strong contributor to tonsillith formation. As such, if you can reduce your dairy intake (or eliminate it altogether), you may notice fewer problems with tonsil stones.
5. Treat Postnasal Drip
If you also suffer from frequent postnasal drip due to regular sinus infections or allergies, you may want to first treat that before treating your tonsil stones and see if that makes a difference. The mucus that travels down the back of your throat can quickly find residence in your tonsil crypts which leads to tonsil stones.
Finally, the best way to prevent tonsil stones from forming is to have your tonsils removed.
If you’ve tried all of the above, and your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, it may be time to make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may need to check you out to see what else is going on beyond tonsil stones. Furthermore, if it’s been more than six months since you’ve seen the dentist, call Dr. Katherine E. Garrett and schedule your appointment. New patients are always welcome, and we are proud to provide dental care for your entire family. Don’t wait until you have a dental emergency, call our office today!