Even though it is widespread and self-diagnosable, stone on the tonsil can pose a threat if it grows larger. But does it require immediate treatment?
Read through this article to find out everything you need to know about tonsil stones.
What are tonsil stones?
Stone on tonsil is a widespread problem that everybody has come across at least once, and the interesting thing is that you might have already had it, but you don’t know. This is because tonsil stones cause any problem very rarely.
They do not cause any major pain or other health issues. But too much of anything is bad. Stone on the tonsil can be a severe problem if it becomes more prominent and can cause several health issues.
To better understand tonsil stones, first, you need to know a bit about the anatomy of your mouth and throat. The tonsils are a pair of organs that are a part of your lymphatic system.
It is situated in the back of your throat, in the pharynx wall, one at each side of the root of your tongue. These are called palatine tonsils. They are composed of a mass of soft tissues. The primary function of tonsils is to fight foreign bodies that enter your body through the nose and mouth.
It is their location inside your mouth that enables them to fight germs and ensure your body’s immunity. However, several illnesses affect the tonsils, and stone on tonsils, also called tonsilloliths, are among them.
Other diseases that affect tonsils are tonsillitis, acute mononucleosis, strep throat, peritonsillar abscess, chronic tonsillitis, hypertrophic tonsils.
Stone on tonsil: what, why, and how?
Tonsil stones are hard stone-like lumps formed in the tonsils inside your mouth. Your tonsils have tonsilar crypts that are gaps and cervices in your tonsils.
Stones on the tonsil begin to form when bacteria, debris, food particles, saliva, dead cells, and anything that enters your mouth gets trapped in these tonsillar crypts.
These substances accumulate as little pebbles. These tiny lumps generally occur in white or yellow color harden from stone on the tonsil.
Tonsil stones can differ in size. There will be tiny grain-sized tonsil stones and sized up to a grape. If you notice that stones on tonsils are excessively large or getting larger day by day, you should immediately consult an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist.
Stone on tonsil can get bigger and musty as more fungi and bacteria accumulate. The musty odor which causes bad breath is one of the main irritating things about tonsil stones. Apart from this, a tonsil stone can cause mild itchiness and discomfort, and so on.
Even though most of the time, a tonsil stone does not pose any severe harm to your health other than these slight inconveniences, when there are large tonsil stones, they can develop into serious health issues.
These issues can range from sore throat, swelling, difficulty in swallowing, and deep infections of the tonsil.
How to treat stone on tonsil?
Medical treatments are not suggested for tonsil stones as they are rarely harmful. But if a stone on the tonsil becomes larger and develops into deeper infections, you can seek medical help to remove it.
Tonsillectomy is the most commonly used surgical method to treat stone on tonsils. Tonsillectomy is the permanent removal of tonsils from your mouth.
During a tonsillectomy, your tonsils are removed by using heat or using a harmonic scalpel under general anesthesia.
Other methods to remove tonsil stone in a tonsillectomy include ultrasonic vibration or radiofrequency ablation, laser microdebrida.
Any of these methods are used to remove the palatine tonsils inside your mouth. Removing them would not cause any change in our immune system or overall health. Apart from tonsilloliths, almost all diseases of tonsils are treated through a tonsillectomy.
After tonsillectomy, it would take one week to ten days to recover from the surgery. The pain may last up to three to four days. Also, you might experience mild fever, nausea, throat pain and the feeling of something stuck in your throat.
Also, you need to take good rest after the surgery and ensure that you abstain from any strenuous activity.
It is advised to avoid hard, spicy, and hot foods post-surgery. Cold and soft foods or bland foods are suggested as they are easy to swallow.
Advantages and disadvantages
Removing your tonsils helps eliminate tonsil stones and all other kinds of infections and diseases that affect your tonsils. You will have fewer infections in the future. However, a tonsillectomy can cause your tongue and the roof of your mouth to swell for some hours after the procedure.
Apart from this, there might be a chance of excessive bleeding from your mouth during the healing period. Minor bleeding is normal. But if you are experiencing a heavy loss of blood from your mouth, you need to seek medical attention immediately. Also, it takes much time to heal after this method.
Cryptolisis is another primary method of tonsil stone treatment. In cryptolysis, laser therapy removes the crypts and cervices where debris and other substances have accumulated and form tonsil stones.
Cryptolysis is mainly performed in patients whose stone in the tonsil is small and has a controllable gag reflex.
Different from a tonsillectomy, in cryptolysis, the tonsilar crypts in which stones are formed, whereas, in tonsillectomy, your entire palatine tonsils are removed permanently from your mouth.
Another significant difference between this method and tonsillectomy is that the recovery period of cryptolysis is less when compared to tonsillectomy. You don’t need to rest for several days, and you will recover from the pain from the therapy more fastly. Thus, you can go back to your daily routine and diet within a few days.
Apart from laser tonsil cryptolysis, there is also another type called coblation cryptolisis. In coblation cryptolisis, salt solutions are charged into ions using radio waves.
These charged ions cut through the tonsilar crypts where tonsil stones are formed. Its main advantage is removing the tonsil crypts without the burning sensation, unlike in laser cryptolisis.
Even though it is not effective as a surgical removal method, taking antibiotics can also help reduce the stone on the tonsil. Antibiotics help to fight bacteria and reduce infection. Antihistamines are also effective in reducing conditions in the mucus layer in the outer part of the tonsils.
However, antibiotic medications are not suggested for tonsil stones most of the time because they do not treat the underlying cause for the formation of tonsil stones.
Natural methods to treat tonsil stones
Medical and surgical removal methods of tonsil stones are only a last resort to treat them because they do not cause any serious issues. So you do not need to go for surgical removal of tonsil stones every time.
Most of the time, you can ignore them. But it is expected that they cause mild discomfort in your throat, and you might want to get rid of stones on the tonsil. So, you can use a few natural home remedies to remove stones on the tonsil.
- Gargling with warm salt water: Gargling with salt water is one of the most effective home remedies to reduce stone on the tonsil. You can add some salt into warm water and gargle it every day to loosen stones on the tonsil
- Essential oils: Certain essential oils have antibacterial properties and can reduce bacterial build-up. Oils such as rosemary, lemongrass, are good examples of this. Apply these essential oils mixed in some carrier oils to your tonsils to dislodge stone on the tonsil.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Eat foods with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties for effective tonsil stone removal.
- Use a cotton swab or finger to remove the stone on the tonsil: You can use a cotton swab or your finger to use a little pressure on the stones and remove them from your mouth. However, it is not a suitable method as this might increase the infection if you use too much pressure.
Typically, tonsil stones can be removed or ease the irritation through these natural remedies.
Reasons for stone on tonsil:
As mentioned earlier, tonsil stones are developed when debris and other substances get trapped and build up in the crypts of palatine tonsils in your mouth. These tonsils are deep enough to trap substances.
There are some other reasons which can increase the chance of the formation of tonsil stones, especially larger stones that can cause severe health issues. The leading causes for the development of such rocks are:
- poor oral hygiene
- chronic tonsillitis
- large tonsils
- sinus issues
- medications that make your mouth dry
Diagnosis of stone on tonsil:
Stone on tonsil is self-diagnosable most of the time. You can diagnose tonsil stones yourself by opening your mouth as wide as you can in front of a mirror and checking if you see white or yellow pebbles in the back of your mouth.
Sometimes, you cannot see them because the stones might be located very behind your mouth or throat. On such occasions, you will need to undergo a physical examination or imaging scans such as CT scans, MRI scans, to get tonsil stones diagnosed.
Imaging scans are done mainly when tonsil stones are hidden inside the crypts of your tonsils. After the examination, according to the severity of your case, your physician will suggest treatment methods.
Symptoms of tonsil stone
Tonsil stones mainly do not cause any severe symptoms. That is why you would not even realize you have tonsil stones, and sometimes, they go away on their own.
Tonsil stone symptoms occur only when the infection starts to become serious. Significant signs of tonsil stones include:
- Bad breath
- ear pain
- difficulty swallowing
- sore throat
- tonsil stones that keep getting larger
- bad taste in your mouth
How to prevent stone on tonsil?
Prevention is always better than cure. Even though this is a cliched expression, there is no denying that it is true. Tonsil stones occur and worsen primarily due to lifestyle. So, changes in your eating habits, hygiene, can effectively prevent tonsil stones.
Some of the methods to avoid the formation of tonsil stones are the following:
Practicing good oral hygiene: poor oral hygiene is one of the main reasons for tonsil stones. It leads to the increase of bacteria build-up, which worsens the formation of stones.
Brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and gargle with mouthwash every day. Always ensure to clean your mouth after eating. This will ensure that there are no tiny bits stuck in your mouth.
Stay hydrated: ensure to drink enough water every day.
Reduce smoking: you know smoking is bad. Smoking can cause many health issues, especially in your mouth. One among them is that it causes high inflammation in your mouth, which irritates the tonsils. Smoking can highly increase the chances of developing more troublesome tonsil stones and other issues.
Gargling with warm salt water: gargling with salt water is a remedy and a prevention method. Make it a habit to prevent not only tonsil stones but also prevent other minor cuts and infections in your mouth.
Avoid sugary and carbonated beverages: it might be hard to say no to your coke or any other soft drink. But carbonated beverages and beverages with added sugar act as nutrients to the bacterial growth inside your mouth.
Tonsil stones are no big deal. Even if you have stones on the tonsil, you won’t even notice it because tonsil stones rarely cause any problem. There would not be any symptoms unless they were getting more significant. All you need to do is maintain good dental hygiene to ensure no trapped material in your mouth.
However, sometimes they can irritate you because of that feeling of something is in your throat. To ease this throat discomfort, you can try removing it on your own using some natural remedies. In short, if they are not getting bigger or causing any other serious problem, don’t sweat over it too much.
Stone on tonsil: Conclusion
Now you know what tonsil stones are and how severe they can get. So, if you experience any symptoms of stone on tonsils, first try the home remedies, and if that doesn’t work, contact your tonsil stones diagnosed.
Tonsil stones tend to cause bad breath because of the bacteria growing around them, so you might sometimes misdiagnose it with bad oral health. So, it is essential to always be on the lookout for the symptoms and take the necessary steps.