What’s the Deal With Tonsil Stones?Practically everyone’s heard of bad breath (or experienced it themselves), but not nearly as many people have ever heard of tonsil stones. If you’ve ever dealt with tonsil stones, you know why nobody’s eager to talk about them. They’re a perplexing but harmless phenomenon, occasionally going completely unnoticed but often resulting in swollen tonsils and a distinctly unpleasant smell. But what exactly are tonsil stones, and what’s the best way to get rid of tonsil stones?
What Are Tonsil Stones?Scientifically speaking, tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are hard formations that develop on or inside the tonsils. They’re typically white or yellow, and they can range anywhere from the size of a grain of rice all the way up to the size of a large grape. They also come with a specific tonsil stone smell, which anyone who has suffered from tonsil stones before will tell you is far from pleasant. They form when various forms of debris — such as dead skin cells, food, and saliva — get trapped inside the crevices of the tonsils (also known as tonsil crypts). Over time, bacteria and fungi harden, thus creating tonsil stones in the tonsil crypts. Typically, they come from improper dental hygiene, abnormally large tonsils, sinus issues, or inflammation of the tonsils (also known as chronic tonsillitis).
What Are the Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?While the most obvious symptom of tonsil stones is the appearance of the stones in the tonsils in the back of the throat, there are a handful of symptoms that can help you identify tonsil stones if they haven’t grown to visible size yet. These symptoms include (but are not limited to):
- sore throat
- bad breath
- difficulty swallowing
- pain in the ear
- a persistent cough
- swelling of the tonsils
- visible white or yellow debris on or around the tonsils