What are tonsil stones?

Tonsils are gland like structures situated at the back of the throat. They are two, on in a pocket on each side. Tonsils are composed of tissues that have lymphocytes cells which fight and prevent infections in the body.

Tonsil stones are also known as Tonsilloliths or tonsillar calculi. These are clusters of material, composed of calcium and other minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, ammonia and carbonate, which form in the microscopic pockets of tonsils. Fungal and bacterial growths also form tonsil stones. They commonly form in palatine tonsils but can also occur in lingual tonsils.

Symptoms and signs of tonsil stones include pain when swallowing, bad breath, a metallic taste, coughing fits, throat tightening or closing, choking or may produce no symptoms. Many small tonsil stones and some large ones don’t produce any noticeable symptoms, and are incidentally discovered on CAT scans or X- rays.

Larger tonsil stones may have multiple symptoms including tonsil swelling, tonsil infection, ear ache, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, white debris, and bad taste in the back of the throat. Tonsil stones occur mostly in adults.

How they are formed?

Tonsil stones are calcifications that form in the microscopic pockets the palatal tonsils, and can also occur in the roof of the mouth and in the throat. Tonsils have microscopic pockets where bacteria, food particles, dead cell, mucus and other materials can be trapped. The accumulated debris may coalesce into white formations that occur in the microscopic crevices or pockets. Tonsils stones occur when this trapped debris calcifies and hardens into miniscule white stones. This tends to happen most often in people who suffer from repeated bouts of tonsillitis or have chronic inflammation in their tonsils.

Are tonsil stone preventable?

Tonsil stones may be avoided through;

Drinking water after meals to clear food particles lodged in the throat By avoiding high dairy products. These products harbour the anaerobic bacteria. Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol dries the mouth and encourages bacterial formations. Brushing teeth and the tongue at least twice daily. Removes food particles and bacteria in the mouth. Through Weekly irrigation of tonsils with an oral irrigator to clear accumulated bacteria and debris from tonsil pockets.

What can we do to get rid of them?

The method of treatment for tonsil stones varies with the size of the tonsil stone, and its potential to harm or cause discomfort. Methods include:

No treatment. Mostly, few tonsil stone have symptoms hence, no treatment is needed. Warm salty water gargles. This may help ease the discomfort which often accompanies tonsil stones. At home removal. One may choose to remove the tonsil stone at home using swabs or picks. Antibiotics. Antibiotics can be used to treat tonsil stones. However antibiotics do not correct the root cause of tonsil stones and may have side effects. Surgical removal. This mode of treatment can be used in case of exceedingly large and symptomatic tonsil stones.

Tonsil stones are common in people suffering from chronic tonsillitis and the only sure way to prevent them is through surgical removal of the tonsils. The procedure, known as tonsillectomy, removes the tonsil tissues completely and so eliminates the possibility of tonsil stones.Tonsil stones are common in people suffering from chronic tonsillitis and the only sure way to prevent them is through surgical removal of the tonsils. The procedure, known as tonsillectomy, removes the tonsil tissues completely and so eliminates the possibility of tonsil stones.