Can Anybody Get Tonsil Stones?
It is a familiar story. A child gets strep throat three times in one year. His or her doctor suggests removing the child’s tonsils. The surgery is fast and simple and the child spends a few days relaxing in bed while eating ice cream. After a few weeks the child’s throat is completely healed and the surgery is all but forgotten. While having tonsils removed is a relatively routine procedure for most children, there are actually some who manage to escape childhood without losing them. These children generally have no problems like chronic strep throat that requires their tonsils to be removed. As they get older, the people who have their tonsils in tact might not experience any difference in health or well being than those who had their tonsils removed as children unless they have something called tonsil stones (tonsilloliths).
Understanding Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones are white lumps that can appear on the tonsils of adults and children. Because the tonsils have many different little crannies and folds, there are plenty of places for old food and dead blood cells to hide. Bacteria loves these hidden treasure and thrives in the region. When this occurs, this debris eventually begins to calcify and it becomes a hard white lump on the tonsils. These are tonsil stones and, while they are called “stones” they are not quite as hard as real stones.
Symptoms of Tonsilloliths
Generally, the person with tonsil stones will have no symptoms other than bad breath. This can impact social and working relationships and can make person to person interaction difficult and uncomfortable. Sometimes, when a stone becomes really large, there can be some pain and difficulty breathing or swallowing. These symptoms are not life threatening but they can impact the sufferer’s comfort enough for them to want to have them removed.
Getting Rid of Tonsilloliths
Not all stones need aggressive measures to prompt their removal. Some respond well to a simple round of antibiotics while others can be removed with just a salt water gargle or two. There are also at home removal kits that provide you with a scraper to scrape the stone from your tonsils. There are also surgical removal options for those who have large or painful stones in your tonsils. Once removed tonsilloliths do not grow back but new ones can always form.
It is important to note that good oral hygiene can prevent their future growth. By brushing your teeth after every meal, avoiding food 30 minutes before bed time, gargling with mouthwash daily, scraping your tongue to remove food particles and dead blood cells, and drinking water to help keep your mouth and throat clear of unwanted debris, you can reduce your chances of having tonsil stones in the future