What are tonsil stones?
Tonsil stones are small, white or yellowish calcifications that form in the crevices of your tonsils. They can be as small as a grain of rice or as large as a marble.
What causes them?
- Poor dental hygiene
- Chronic mouth breathing (during the day or at night)
- Deep crevices (crypts) in the tonsils (where food particles can become lodged)
- Large tonsils
- Chronic tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils)
- Hormonal changes (like during pregnancy)
- Too much calcium in the blood without enough vitamins K2 and D3
What are the symptoms?
Tonsil stones can make it feel like you constantly have to swallow or cause nasty halitosis (bad breath). They can also cause sore throat, swollen tonsils, ear pain, and persistent cough. While mild cases may go completely unnoticed and will likely resolve on their own.
How do you get rid of them?
Most commonly, tonsil stones dislodge themselves, but, if they’re uncomfortable you may be able to remove them on your own.
Use extreme caution when removing your tonsil stones at home.
For safe at home removal, try the following home remedies:
- Vigorously gargle with warm salt water.
- Use an oral irrigator (water flosser) to gently spray water to dislodge the calcified stone.
- Very gently nudge tonsil stones with a clean cotton swab.
- Make yourself cough.
Seek medical attention from your dentist or doctor if you experience:
- Tonsils of different sizes
- Blood in your saliva
- Problems with swallowing, speaking, or breathing
- Pain, swelling, or lumps in the neck
- Severe pain in your mouth or throat
If that doesn’t work:
Some stubborn cases may require removal by a dental professional. If gargling, coughing, and other manual remedies don’t work, you may need to see a healthcare provider about surgical removal.
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