Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, occur when cellular debris and food particles become lodged in the surfaces of your palatine tonsils. These lymphatic organs are located on either side of the back of your throat and are responsible for fighting pathogens and filtering lymphatic fluid. Individuals who do not maintain healthy oral-hygiene routines are especially prone to developing tonsil stones, as the buildup of debris in the mouth can clog the surface of the tonsils.
Your tonsils are covered by an external layer of pink mucosa, which contains pits and crevices that are commonly referred to as the tonsillar crypts. If food particles and other residues accumulate in the tonsillar crypts, they can combine with saliva and calcify into tonsil stones. Poor oral hygiene can allow oral microorganisms to thrive on accumulating food particles, increasing your likelihood of developing tonsil stones.
To reduce your risk of tonsil stones and to lessen their severity, make sure that you are practicing an effective oral-hygiene routine. Regular flossing and brushing can protect your teeth, gums, and throat from harboring particles and harmful bacteria. Switching to an antimicrobial mouthwash can help loosen and eliminate existing tonsil stones. Additionally, using a specialty mouthwash may also combat high levels of oral bacteria that contribute to tonsil-stone formation.
Ultimately, eliminating the cause of a health condition like tonsil stones is the best way to reduce its effects. Implementing effective oral-hygiene habits can limit your risk of develop complications related to tonsil stones, such as a chronic sore throat, earaches, swollen tonsils, and persistent bad breath.
If you are concerned about tonsil stones or your oral health, see your family doctor or a dentist. He or she can examine your mouth and throat to determine the cause of your discomfort and to suggest potential treatments. If any tonsil stones are visible, your doctor or dentist may remove them with a swab or a pick. Additionally, your doctor or dentist can help you develop a healthy oral-hygiene routine of flossing daily, brushing regularly, and rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash. If these methods are not effective in reducing your tonsil stones, you may need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist for further evaluation and possible surgery.