A sore throat can signal various underlying health issues.
Whether it’s a common cold or excessive shouting during a late-night party, a persistent, irritating sensation in your throat could also be due to tonsil stones – a common yet often overlooked problem.
In this article, we’ll explore what tonsil stones are, what causes them, their symptoms, and effective ways to remove and prevent them.
Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are small, white formations in the tonsils. How to get rid of tonsil stones at home? Discover their causes, symptoms, and effective removal methods.
What Are tonsil stones (tonsilloliths)?
Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, are small, white, hardened formations found in the tonsils.
These stones are composed of food particles, dead cells, and debris that accumulate in the tonsil crypts.
While they may appear large and bothersome, they are generally harmless and are part of the lymphatic system, serving to combat infections.
Anatomy of the tonsils
There are 5 types of tonsils:
– pharyngeal tonsil: also called vegetation, it is located in the superior posterior wall of the nasopharynx
– palatine tonsil: they are placed to the right and the left of the back of the throat
– lingual tonsil: on either side of the tongue
– Velo-palatine tonsil: located behind the veil of the palace
– tubular tonsil: located at the entrance of the eustachian tube
Tonsillolith tends to form in the palatine tonsils instead.
Palatines are two spongy pockets at the back of your throat that you can see in your mirror when you open your mouth wide.
The purpose of tonsils
Tonsils are essential lymphoid tissues that act as a natural defense against infections.
They help dissolve bacteria, viruses, and trapped particles in the throat, preventing infections from spreading.
Types of tonsillitis
– Acute tonsillitis results in infection of the palatine tonsils known more by the name “angina” sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever, stiff neck, and white spots on the tonsils symptoms.
It is most often viral and only lasts a few days.
– Chronic caseous tonsillitis is the same infection but spans a long period of up to several years.
Symptoms may be more severe with sore throat and halitosis (bad breath), formation of tonsil stones, and white spots in the back of the throat.
This form is more problematic and can cause complications.
– Tonsillitis can also be caused by chronic sinus infection, dry mouth, and poor oral hygiene.
What causes tonsil stones to form?
Unfortunately, because bacteria have comfortable crevices in the tonsils, they are comfortable.
These crypts collect dead cells, mucus, food debris, and all kinds of particles – a very appetizing meal tray for all kinds of germs!
After a bacterial film has formed, lumps begin to calcify, hardening into a mixture of calcium and other minerals.
These solid stones are called tonsil stones, tonsillar stones, or caseous tonsillitis.
These caseous balls can vary in size from two millimeters to 2 centimeters.
Symptoms and side effects of tonsil stones
Tonsil stones can cause a range of symptoms, including sore throat, swelling of the tonsils, ear pain, and bad breath due to sulfur compounds produced by bacteria.
While they can be uncomfortable, they are rarely dangerous and typically do not obstruct swallowing.
How to remove tonsil stones
If you wish to eliminate tonsil stones, there are various methods you can try.
These include gentle brushing, gargling, and seeking medical treatment from an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist.
Tonsil removal is a last resort if the problem persists.
Preventing tonsil stones
The first thing to do to combat caseous formation is to increase your oral care.
Remember to empty tonsil cavities and fissures regularly.
Most people who first notice their presence deep in the throat try to remove them by gargling with salt water or chlorhexidine-based antiseptic mouthwashes.
Some people attempt to remove each ball by pressing it down with a finger or with a specific cleaning kit.
However, none of these maneuvers cure tonsillitis.
They certainly improve your comfort and improve your quality of life for a short time without preventing their return.
Also, attempting to remove them manually can injure the tonsil and cause potentially serious bleeding.
As you know, tonsillar stones are a kind of chronic infection of the tonsil.
So you might think that antibiotics might be effective.
Research in this area shows that taking an antibiotic over the long term gets a positive effect on bad breath.
However, as soon as the drugs are stopped, everything starts again.
How to treat tonsillitis without surgery
Laser carbon dioxide and caseous tonsillitis
The laser is used to vaporize the surface of the tonsils to flatten out the pits and thus obtain a smooth tissue without roughness.
The success rate is about 30% with the possibility of having to schedule a second session or to have the tonsils removed in case of total failure.
In this case, the goal is to remove the caseous balls then remove the part in which it was lodged, remove the crack and smooth the area.
The success rate is 70-90%.
A method that is therefore proven.
You will often be offered total tonsil removal but this solution must be weighed as you will see.
Indeed, studies show that partial ablation seems less prone to complications than total ablation.
On the other hand, they also show that only 70% of patients who have undergone partial ablation are free of the problem after a year while more than 95 % of those who have undergone total ablation are delivered.
A new alternative laser technique named intracapsular tonsillectomy coblation allows dissecting the tissues more finely to perform a less painful total ablation without too much risk of complications and not requiring hospitalization.
How to get rid of tonsil stones at home
Removing tonsil stones with Waterpik
Flossing your teeth regularly is the key.
High-pressure water helps dislodge stones while cleansing tonsils.
This technique also improves breath.
You can also add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to your water flosser to further sanitize the area.
Be careful when using an oral irrigator water flosser (ad) so as not to injure the fragile tonsils.
Tonsil stone removal kit
This kit with tools for the extraction of the caseous stones ensures optimal oral hygiene and facilitates handling.
In addition, the curved syringe is very practical for performing disinfectant rinses directly in the pits.
Tonsil stone removal tool
This specific curette that ENT doctors use to empty the tonsils will do you a great favor.
It makes it easy to remove and collect tonsil stones and thus facilitates daily care.
Made of stainless steel, it is very durable and very handy.
Just disinfect it after each use to have this ENT curette (ad) on hand at all times.
Stainless steel tongue scraper
Using a metal tongue scraper (ad) with each brushing of the teeth allows to remove any bacteria from the mouth and thus avoid the proliferation causing the caseum.
How to get rid of tonsil stones at home: Natural treatment
Probiotics for oral health (ad) are an effective weapon because they provide the beneficial bacteria to properly fight against the harmful bacteria that allow caseous stones to form.
Methylene blue is a dye used in particular for the manufacture of blue curaçao.
It is a very effective antiseptic and antioxidant to fight tonsil stones.
Soak a cotton swab with a few drops of methylene blue (ad) then apply it to the tonsils.
Remember that methylene blue is a dye, don’t be surprised to notice a normal bluish deposit.
Salt water tonsil stones
Gargling with warm salt water provides pain relief.
It also has disinfectant properties and helps regulate mucus in the mouth.
You can also gargle with apple cider vinegar for its antibacterial properties.
While gargling with lemon juice could be way too acidic, you can still drink it regularly because it attacks calcified debris and helps you kick them out.
Gargle with honey
Boil water, add two teaspoons of manuka honey (ad) for its exceptional virtues, let cool then gargle with this solution to kill bacteria.
Caseous tonsillitis essential oil
Lavender, lemongrass, or clove essential oils have antibacterial properties.
Add a drop to your toothpaste before each brushing.
Tonsil stones homeopathy
Highly recommended to fight cryptic tonsil, Kalium Muriaticum 30C (ad) is a homeopathic remedy to try.
Initially prescribed in gastroenterology, E.N.T, and rheumatology, it acts on the inflammation of the tonsils and the production of caseum.
Unfortunately, there remains a one-time remedy that destroys tonsil stones but does not prevent their return.
So, if you stop it, the problem arises again.
The recommended dosage is 3 pellets twice a day.
How to prevent tonsil stones?
To prevent the problem from becoming chronic, it is recommended to:
– drink plenty of water
– avoid excessive alcohol consumption
– limit the consumption of soda
– treat any sinus infection quickly
– treat allergic symptoms
– limit or stop smoking
How to get rid of tonsil stones at home?
Tonsillitis and chronic caseous stones are very disturbing problems because they cause constant bad breath (halitosis).
It is sometimes difficult to fight against the formation of these calcified stones without considering the total removal of the tonsils.
But we can also say that these so problematic tonsils are not there by chance and also have their role in the protection against infections.
It may be desirable to maintain them to ensure normal immunity.
You will surely find a suitable technique in all the suggestions in this article and at least manage to control the problem to avoid the unfortunate consequences of tonsillitis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can tonsil stones go away on their own?
It happens that the tonsil stones are expelled at the time of coughing or swallowed when the pressure of food dislodges them.
However, hidden tonsil stones, which are difficult to access, are rarely expelled and tend to accumulate.
The intervention of an ENT may then be necessary to remove them.
How do I know if I have tonsil stones?
The caseum does not necessarily result in a white lump at the back of the throat.
It can also be hidden.
A simple pressure on the tonsil can then expel it and reveal its presence.
Why are we talking about stones?
Tonsil stone is another name for tonsillar.
It actually corresponds to these small clumps of debris that form in the tonsils.
Its constant presence diagnoses chronic tonsillitis.
How to clean the throat naturally?
It is recommended to gargle with salt water.
Boil 250ml of water, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and let cool.
You can gargle two to three times a day and benefit from the antibacterial action of salt.