What Are Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil Stones are a combination of things located on or in the tonsil area in your mouth. This combination of things come together to form a soft mass, or tonsil stone.
In order to form this mass, you need the right ingredients…
The “recipe” for tonsil stones is:
- Debris - The different things you consume in a day
- Bacteria - Natural bacteria that lives in your mouth
- Mucus and Saliva - The binding agents
- Dead Cells - Shedding of cells in the mouth - typically these look like white particles or the gunk in the sink when you spit out your mouth rinse!
Think of cookie dough as an example! When you make cookies, you mix all your ingredients and form little masses to put on the baking sheet… this is very similar to what happens in your mouth!
What Causes Tonsil Stones?
Your tonsils function kind of like a sponge… There are lots of grooves in your tonsils that allow for things to get stuck if not properly cared for.
When you wipe off your dinner plate with your dish sponge, things get stuck in the grooves and pores of the sponges and, if you don’t rinse out the sponge, the sponge will be covered in leftovers and grime from your dinner!
Think of your tonsils in the same way, if you don’t take proper precautions and care for your overall oral health, you are creating an environment that encourages tonsil stones.
Here are some signs that you may have tonsil stones:
- Strange feeling when you swallow - might feel like you have something caught in the back of your throat
- Bad breath - while this may seem vague, bad breath could be caused by tonsil stones getting stuck in the secluded area of your tonsils and developing an odor… if you feel like you have frequent bad breath, talk to your dentist!
- White spots - tonsil stones aren’t always visible but you may be able to see them in the back of your throat when they’re developing, they will look like a white or yellow mass!
How Can I Avoid Tonsil Stones?
Firstly, it is important to note that tonsil stones are more than likely harmless to your overall health! They will be relatively small and most will come out on their own and won’t cause problems when swallowed.
Our goal is to educate you on tonsil stones and help you keep your mouth as healthy as possible!
After learning about tonsil stones, you may be intimidated. Don’t worry - if you follow these three tricks, you will be less likely to develop tonsil stones to begin with.
- Good Oral Hygiene - Take good care of your mouth’s environment. Brush, floss and make sure your mouth is healthy daily.
- Irrigation - Even just swishing and gargling with water after eating can help to keep your mouth clean. Try incorporating a mouth rinse into your routine if you haven’t already - follow the instructions on the bottle and gargle with it once or twice a day. This will help to keep bacteria/food/debris away from your tonsils.
- Diet - Diet plays a huge role in the overall health of your mouth, everything you consume will change the environment! Three key things within your diet may make you more at risk for tonsil stones...
- Caffeine has a drying effect on your saliva which will increase mucus production
- Alcohol plays a similar role to caffeine, you may notice a dry mouth after a long weekend
- Sugar, soda, candy, even just frequent snacking without irrigation puts you at higher risk of developing tonsil stones
When in doubt, if you have concerns about your oral health or think you are developing larger or more frequent tonsil stones than normal, consult with your dentist or physician and have them evaluate it!
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