Having an attractive smile
is essential to making a great first impression, but that impression won’t hold up if people can’t stand your breath when they get within conversation distance. You might think you’re doing everything you can to combat bad breath, but if you’re not getting rid of tonsil stones, then you’ve got a bad breath factory in your mouth that just needs to be removed.
If you look at the back of your mouth in a mirror, you can see fleshy lumps on either side of your throat. These lumps are your tonsils. If you also see small grayish or whitish lumps inside your tonsils, then you have tonsil stones.
Your tonsils are part of your body’s filtration system. Their purpose is to stop some particles, and especially bacteria from making their way into your throat and lungs. Did you know that oral bacteria are among those commonly found in people with pneumonia? Well, that’s what your tonsils are supposed to help prevent.
But white blood cells aren’t always able to stop the spread and growth of bacteria on your tonsils. Although tonsil stones start off as soft, they eventually turn hard. As the bacteria die, their bodies become fossilized by the high mineral content in your saliva. This is what causes the stony part of the tonsil stone. The soft parts are living bacteria that are continuing to thrive.
If you think about the environment where these tonsil stones, also called tonsilloliths and tonsilloliths, grow, you’ll realize that there isn’t a lot of oxygen there. That doesn’t hamper the growth of this bacteria though, but the bacteria in the tonsil stones is primarily anaerobic. It doesn’t need oxygen and in fact, finds it toxic. Instead, these bacteria “breathe” sulfur, and use it to create all kinds of stinky compounds. What we call “bad breath” is typically these bacteria eating and excreting.
Many people don’t realize that tonsil stones are a significant contributor to bad breath, and it’s no wonder. They’re kept secret out of view in the hollows of the tonsils, which are known as “crypts.”
Some people might not even realize they have tonsil stones because they’re difficult to see. They might instead mistake them for just a sore throat or other condition. Common symptoms of tonsil stones include:
- Bad breath
- Trouble swallowing
- Sore throat
- Ear pain
- Swollen tonsils
- Ongoing cough
- Yellow or white spots on tonsils
Smaller tonsil stones are less noticeable and might not cause symptoms.
For some people, tonsil stones don’t have any significant impact. But for others, the things can be hives of odorous vermin that need to be taken care of. Recurring tonsil stones can cause bad breath and make a huge impact on one’s quality of life. If you’re wondering how to avoid tonsil stones or how to stop getting tonsil stones, here are a few ways to prevent them.
If you suffer from tonsil stones, you likely want to get rid of them as soon as possible to find relief from their symptoms. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can get rid of them.
- If you feel comfortable, you can remove tonsil stones with a soft tool, such as your toothbrush
- Vigorously gargle saltwater to ease discomfort and to loosen and dislodge tonsil stones
- Coughing can also help loosen the stones
- Talk to a doctor: Tonsil stones are sometimes associated with more serious infections. If you have recurring tonsil stones that are associated with swollen lymph nodes, fever, or other symptoms of infection, see a doctor. You might need your tonsils removed or antibiotics to manage the stones, especially if you can’t see them.
At élan by Dr. Meghan Hodges, we can help you improve your oral health. Improving your oral health can not only freshen your breath but remove the bacteria that cause tonsil stones, to begin with. If you are looking for a dentist who can help your smile smell as good as it looks, please call (918) 528-3330 for a dental appointment in Tulsa, OK today.