- 1 What are tonsil stones?
- 2 The tonsils
- 3 Causes
- 4 Risk factors
- 5 Symptoms
- 6 Are tonsil stones dangerous?
- 7 When to see a doctor?
- 8 How is the diagnosis made?
- 9 Stone in the amygdala is curable?
- 10 Prognosis
- 11 What is the treatment?
- 12 Tonsil Stones Medications
- 13 Home Remedies
- 14 Complications
- 15 How to prevent
What are tonsil stones?
Also known as tonsil- like chases , the stones in the tonsils are small calcified structures that form and get stuck on the surface of the tonsils. These stones are composed of food scraps, bacteria and other debris.
Generally, these small formations do not pose any danger. They usually detach themselves from the tonsils and be swallowed, without the individual knowing. Often, the person is only aware of the existence of these small structures when one of them ends up flying with the cough .
The real problem is when they are too big or do not come off naturally. In these cases, they can serve as food for several bacteria, leading to local infection and tonsillitis .
The stones have a strong and unpleasant smell, which can be the primary cause of bad breath in some people.
With regard to the affected ages, tonsillar tonsils are extremely rare before 5 years of age. From 6 to 13 years old, they become a common condition and, from the age of 14 until the end of life, cases of tonsil stones are quite frequent.
Extremely important for the immune system, the tonsils are structures that are at the bottom of the mouth, right at the entrance to the throat. When you go to the doctor and he asks you to open your mouth and say “aaah”, it’s the tonsils he’s looking at.
They are the body’s first line of defense against various microorganisms that make us sick and can enter the mouth. To prevent infections, the tonsils trap bacteria and viruses, study these microorganisms and prepare the immune system to receive and fight them.
On the surface of the tonsils, there are specialized cells that trap germs and stimulate an immune system response. The immune system, in turn, releases defense cells that attack this microorganism before an infection occurs.
In the past, it was very common to remove tonsils to prevent recurrence of tonsillitis. However, these days, this is a poorly performed process, due to the importance of these structures for our health.
However, if you have had your tonsils removed, don’t worry: in the medical literature, there is no evidence that people who have had tonsillectomy get sick more often than people who have these structures intact.
Tonsile tonsils are formed when there is an accumulation of debris on the surface of the tonsils.
This is because the surface of the tonsils is not smooth: it is full of grooves (small holes) in which debris and other substances can accumulate.
When leftover food and bacteria accumulate there, the immune system itself tries to combat these build-ups. In this way, it turns them into calcifications, giving rise to the stones.
Anything that promotes the accumulation of bacteria and food in the mouth is a risk factor for the development of tonsillitis. Some of the main factors are:
She has oral hygiene
Brushing your teeth and flossing every day is a protective measure not only for your teeth, but for your tonsils as well! These habits eliminate the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gingivitis , leaving your mouth cleaner and free of microorganisms.
Failure to do oral hygiene correctly implies an increase in the number of bacteria in the oral cavity, which means that bacteria are more likely to get stuck in the tonsils every time the individual swallows saliva (which happens several times a day).
With the bacteria trapped, the immune system kicks in and calcifies microorganisms, preventing them from doing harm, but without eliminating them.
Every time this happens and this calcification gets stuck in the amygdala, a new stone is formed.
Remedies that cause dry mouth
Medications for hypertension or depression have the side effect of causing dry mouth. This can increase the amount of stones in the tonsils because saliva is very important to eliminate the bacteria present in the oral cavity.
There you already know: a greater number of bacteria in the mouth increases the chances of the formation of stones.
Rhinitis, sinusitis and allergies
Several allergic conditions cause an accumulation of mucus, which runs down the throat. This mucus, too, can get stuck in the tonsils, giving rise to new stones in the tonsils.
Tonsil stones can be completely asymptomatic if they are small. However, as they grow, symptoms such as:
- White or yellowish bumps on the back of the throat: If, when looking in the mirror, you can see white or yellowish bumps, this may be a sign of stones in the tonsils. However, the folds of the tonsils can hide the stones, depending on where they are;
- Bad breath: The stones give off a strong, putrid smell, making bad breath one of the main symptoms of tonsil stones. When the stones are few, this symptom will not always be present, however, it can be the first sign of stones, if they are many;
- Sore throat: If the stones are large, they can cause pressure or scratch the throat, leading to symptoms such as pain and discomfort;
- Difficulty swallowing: Large stones can hinder the ability to swallow a little;
- Swelling in the tonsils: Caeses are a great breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause inflammation in the tonsils, leading to swelling;
- Ear pain: Although the stone never comes into contact with the ears, some people may experience pain at that location because of the nerves shared between the throat and the ear.
It can be calm: the stones in the tonsils are, generally, harmless . They do not usually cause problems other than the unpleasant symptoms themselves, when they exist.
They usually detach themselves from the tonsils on their own, and that ends the problem.
However, if they are very large or do not detach themselves, they can serve as a breeding ground for various bacteria, which can cause tonsillitis.
Because it is not a very dangerous condition, many people end up not seeing the doctor. However, there are some cases in which medical help is needed.
See a doctor if:
- There are symptoms of stones in the tonsils, but no visible stones;
- Removing the stone at home is not possible, or when only part of the stone has been removed;
- Tonsils have redness, swelling or pain;
- There is pain after removing an amygdala stone.
The diagnosis is made quickly with a simple examination of the tonsils. The most suitable professional to diagnose stones in the tonsils is the otorhinolaryngologist , but the diagnosis can also be made by a dentist or a general practitioner.
To examine the tonsils, the doctor will ask the patient to open his mouth wide and say “aaah”, sticking his tongue out. He can use a kind of toothpick to push his tongue down and get a better view. Another instrument that can be used is a small flashlight, to illuminate the region.
Generally, cases are perfectly visible in the tonsils, and no further tests are needed to diagnose them. However, they may be hidden behind folds in the tonsils, and the doctor will know if this is the case.
Yes, the stones in the tonsils are curable ! They can come loose on their own or, when it doesn’t, there are very easy procedures that can be done to remove them.
They can come back, however, if the patient does not take care and eliminate the risk factors.
In general, the prognosis of stones in the tonsils is positive. In the vast majority of cases, the stones themselves come off and are eliminated from the body on their own. However, there are more serious cases that require drastic measures, such as the removal of the amygdala.
These cases are very rare and you should think carefully about the surgery, since the risks may not be worth it, since the stones are, in most cases, harmless.
It is also worth remembering that in patients who opt for surgery, the tonsils can grow again, which would make the problem return.
If the cases do not show symptoms, there is no need for treatment, since the body itself usually expels them alone. However, if necessary, the doctor may indicate:
Depending on the case, the stones can be removed at home, as they usually come off easily from the amygdala. However, if necessary, the doctor can perform this process in his own office, using appropriate equipment to avoid complications.
The stones can be removed by gently squeezing the amygdala near the base of each stone, pushing them forward. The process is usually painless and does not take long.
If the stones are too large or removal is not possible using this method, the doctor may recommend surgical removal . In such cases, a local anesthetic and surgical equipment are used to remove the stones. Small cuts in the tonsils may be necessary.
Tonsillar cryptolysis is a laser procedure that consists of smoothing the surface of the tonsils, eliminating the crypts in which the stones are formed.
Another alternative is to do cryptolysis using radio waves. The procedure is similar in effectiveness, with the advantage that there is no burning sensation of the laser.
Despite decreasing the chances of new stones forming, cryptolysis does not guarantee that they will not appear again.
Removing the amygdala is a last resort in cases where the other alternatives did not work and the stones cause many complications. It is only indicated when the patient suffers from frequent tonsillitis due to stones, which is not very common.
Even so, this surgery may not bring results, since the tonsils rarely grow again and the stones can re-form.
There are no drugs to treat tonsillitis. Rarely, when they cause problems such as pharyngitis or bacterial laryngitis , the doctor may prescribe the use of antibiotics , but only when the infection is serious and worrying.
Since tonsil stones often do not need to be treated, there are some home remedies to remove them if they are causing any discomfort.
It is worth remembering that there is no evidence that these methods work and there is also no guarantee that they are safe. Talk to your doctor before testing them at home.
Gargling with apple cider vinegar and salted water
Two great home remedies for tonsil oil are apple cider vinegar and salt water. Both have antimicrobial properties that help fight the accumulation of bacteria in the tonsils, preventing the stones from increasing in size or even new stones from forming.
To gargle with water and salt, just mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle for 30 seconds, 1 to 3 times a day.
For the version with apple cider vinegar, add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in half a glass of water and gargle with the mixture 1 to 3 times a day.
The vinegar helps to break the stones, breaking them into small pieces, and the gargle helps to remove the stones from the crypts.
Garlic has antibacterial properties and chewing a clove of garlic a day can prevent the stones from growing. In addition, it can help in combating unpleasant symptoms like bad breath.
Cut or grind the garlic clove and set aside for 10 minutes before chewing it, as this increases the amount of allicin, the substance that gives garlic antimicrobial properties.
To remove stones at home, you can use the tips of cotton swabs. To do this, simply position the tip of the rod on the fabric around the stone and press gently, making a little force for the stone to come out.
Prefer to place the swab at the base of the stone so that when it comes out, it will go forward, instead of falling into the throat to be swallowed.
After removing the stones, gargle with warm water and salt to get rid of any remains that the stones have left in your tonsils.
If the stones do not come out easily, do not force . The tonsils are easily irritated, and this can make the process more complicated. If you really need to remove the stones and can’t do it yourself, see a doctor.
A good method for expelling stones in the tonsils is to cough. So much so that, many times, people only discover that they have stones when one of them goes flying after coughing.
However, care must be taken: the tonsils and throat, in general, are very fragile and can become irritated by the cough, especially if it is very strong and aggressive. It is necessary to cough, but carefully.
If a pebble comes out with a cough, gargle with antiseptic to clean any bacterial residue from the mouth.
An Ayurvedic tradition consists of using essential oils for a thorough and thorough cleaning of the oral cavity. This technique is called oil pulling and, although it has not been scientifically proven, it has no contraindications.
To use this technique, just mix a teaspoon of coconut, sesame, sunflower or olive oil with a drop of essential oil (to mask the taste).
Some essential oils are toxic and others can corrode the oral mucosa, causing problems to your health. Before adopting the practice, consult an expert to make the appropriate choice.
Rinse and gargle with this mixture for 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes ! This is so that the oil can act on the bacteria and their toxins.
If necessary, divide the process into two 10-minute steps: prepare two teaspoons of the mixture and use one for every 10 minutes.
To make the time go faster, do other activities while doing the oil pulling . Take the opportunity to take a shower, check your emails or even, who knows, catch up on the series. Why not?
This technique will help:
- Eliminate bacteria from stones;
- Prevent bad breath;
- Help the stones to come loose.
Do not swallow the mixture, as it will be full of toxins that can be harmful if swallowed!
If left untreated, amygdala cases can bring some complications, albeit rarely. Are they:
The stones are great breeding grounds for bacteria that produce sulfur compounds, that is, sulfur compounds that give off a strong, putrid smell.
One study showed that 75% of people with chronic cases of tonsil stones had an unusually high concentration of volatile sulfur compounds (the types that give off a bad smell) in their breath.
Increased risk of infections
Because they provide good conditions for the proliferation of bacteria, the cases increase the risks of infection in the throat, such as laryngitis and pharyngitis.
The prevention of tonsillitis is simple: just maintain good oral hygiene. Often, this alone will not be enough to totally prevent the appearance of stones in the tonsils, not least because the formation process depends a lot on several factors, such as the shape of the tonsils.
Tumpy tonsils are more likely to develop keratoses, while smoother tonsils are less likely. Finally, the best tips to prevent the appearance of pebbles are:
Maintain proper brushing
Brushing your teeth 3 times a day, preferably after the main meals, is something that should already be part of everyone’s habits. However, if this practice is not yet part of yours, try it for a few weeks and you will find that the amount of stones in the tonsils decreases considerably.
It is important to brush all the faces of the teeth (front, back and the chewing surface) and floss where the brush cannot reach, as this eliminates the remains of food that can come off the teeth and lodge in the teeth. tonsils, starting the process of forming a stone.
Right after brushing your teeth, gargling is a great way to prevent the appearance of chase. This is because this technique acts precisely on the tonsils, releasing the remains of food and bacteria that were barred there.
When you spit, it all goes down the sink, so you avoid the formation of stones.
A good tip is to use mouthwashes for this process. They contain antiseptic substances that help to eliminate the bacteria present in the mouth, preventing this and other problems. Some examples are:
- Colgate Plax Classic Mouthwash ;
- Oral Care Listerine Total Zero Care ;
- Sensodyne Cool Mint Mouthwash .
Tonsil stones can be quite flat, especially when they fly away when coughing. In addition, they contribute to bad breath that can cause very embarrassing situations. Here’s another great reason to keep your oral hygiene up to date, isn’t it?
Have you ever had tonsil stones? How did you find out about them? Tell us your story and don’t forget to share this text with your friends and family who may be confused!