Everything You Need to Know About Tonsil Stones
A tonsil stone is a hard mass that is yellowish or white. It can vary in size from very small to very large. These stones are a combination of food debris, bacteria, dead cells, as well as other substances trapped in the cavities in your tonsils. Read on and learn everything that you need to know about these hard masses.
What Are Tonsils?
Dr. Fadi Farhat, a dentist in Sterling Heights MI, explains that tonsils are two small mounds of tissue that lie at the back of your throat. Each side of your throat has one tonsil. Their role is to help in fending off the infections that enter the body through the throat. The tonsils do this by trapping foreign bodies, such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses, and then “training” the immune system to deal with the infection-causing agents.
Causes of Tonsil Stones
As already mentioned, tonsil stones are the masses that form when bacteria and other debris are trapped and hardens within the tonsils. In the past, surgery to remove the tonsils used to be common, but this is no longer the case since surgery is now regarded as a last-resort remedy for tonsil stones.
Dr. Ben Kacos, a dentist in Shreveport, LA, points out that since more people now retain their tonsils, the occurrence of tonsil stones is also relatively high due to the large population that could develop these relatively harmless masses.
Symptoms of Tonsil Stones
The oral health professionals at Dental One Care assert that many of the individuals who have tonsil stones don’t exhibit any symptoms. If you develop symptoms, they may include the following:
- An unpleasant smell due to the sulfides produced by the anaerobic bacteria harbored in the tonsil cavities and in the tonsil stones.
- A feeling that something is stuck inside the back of your throat or in your mouth.
- Pain or pressure in your ears.
Tonsil stones can grow so large that they may be visible jutting out of your tonsils. Others remain hidden within the tonsils.
Can Tonsil Stones Cause Complications?
While tonsil stones may cause some discomfort, they are usually harmless. However, Dr. Fadi Farhat explains that the presence of tonsil stones may indicate that something is missing in your oral care routine. This is because the people who don’t floss or brush properly are more susceptible to the development of tonsil stones, and the bacteria found in tonsil stones are often the same species involved in the onset of tooth decay, oral infections, and gum disease.
Treatment for Tonsil Stones
In most cases, tonsils stones may not require you to take a trip to Dental One Care or to your doctor since you may be able to remove them at home. For example, vigorous gargling is, in most cases, enough to dislodge the tonsil stones from inside your tonsils.
You can also use a cotton swab to push against the tissues around the tonsils. Dr. Farhat recommends that you push the tonsil stone towards the opening or front of your mouth and not towards the back of your throat, so you don’t cause additional problems, like a blocked airway.
If the tonsil stones make it hard for you to swallow or you feel some pain, then gargling with salty water may help.
Consult Dr. Fadi Farhat or your GP if:
- You experience the symptoms of tonsil stones, but you are unable to see those stones.
- You’re unable to remove the tonsil stones or only a portion of the tonsil stones comes out.
- Your tonsils become swollen, red, or painful.
- You experience pain while removing the tonsil stones at home.
Your doctor or dentist in Sterling Heights, MI may treat those tonsil stones by using a technique called laser resurfacing. The tonsils may also be reshaped so that there are fewer cavities in which tonsil stones can form. Even after this procedure has been performed, you can still regrow tonsil stones.
The only way to avoid ever having to deal with tonsil stones is by having your tonsils removed through a surgical process. This surgery is called a tonsillectomy. However, there is a slim chance that your tonsils can grow back.
The procedure is safe, but Dr. Fadi Farhat cautions that you are likely to experience some pain in the throat for a few days after the surgery.
Also, since it is a surgical procedure, some risks also exist, as is the case with any surgery. These include the risk of infection, bleeding, swelling, or even adverse reactions to anesthesia.
You need not conclude that you have tonsil stones if you experience the symptoms mentioned above because several other conditions, such as periodontal disease, tonsillitis, and strep throat, may all cause those symptoms. It is therefore helpful to talk to a professional at Dental One Care if you live in Sterling Heights, MI, and you will be properly diagnosed and given the next steps to take. Call and make an appointment today!