One of the most common problems that occur in every one child out of 50 is tonsil stones. People often make a drastic decision to take their tonsils are taken out, which can eliminate these stones. But you’ll be able to glad to know that these stones can also be prevented without surgery but these are so effective.
Keep reading as we discuss about stones in your throat, its causes and the best treatment option available to cure them.
What are the Tonsil Stones?
The hard white or yellow formations that are located on or within the tonsils are known as tonsil stones. Also known as tonsil calculi or tonsilloliths, these can irritate the tonsils and the throat.
Thinking about what is a tonsil? Two small mounds of tissue that lie at the back of the throat is a tonsil. Most of the time, you won’t be able to know what they are. These stones become a home for bacteria that can produce an unpleasant smell.
Why do these develop?
When bacteria and other debris such as dead cells, mucus, saliva and food get trapped in tiny crevices on the tonsils, these stones tend to develop. And when bacteria and fungi grow on this buildup, there is a distinct odor.
When this debris hardens, it develops into a tonsil stone. Some of the causes that can leave behind debris in the mouth are-
- Poor maintenance of dental hygiene
- Size of tonsils are large
- Suffering from chronic sinusitis
- Suffering from chronic tonsilitis
Also Read: 10 Most Common Causes for Sore throat
How do I know I have developed them?
You can develop one tonsil stone or several small formations. The symptoms of tonsil stones are actually pretty common. Look out for these symptoms to check if you have developed them-
- You’ll have a feeling that something is stuck in your mouth or in the back of your throat
- Due to the growth of anaerobic bacteria which produce foul-smelling elements, you’ll have a bad breath
- You’ll have trouble swallowing
- Your throat will be sore
- You’ll have ear pain
- You’ll suffer from a persistent cough
- You can see white or yellow debris on the tonsil
If you feel any two out of this list, then visit an E.N.T doctor immediately.
Can I control its growth?
Tonsil stones are one condition that can occur again once it is cured. Fortunately, you can control its growth if you follow some cautionary measures-
- Practice good oral hygiene to clean the bacteria off of the back of your tongue
- Avoid smoking
- Gargle with lots of saltwater
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
If luck hasn’t been on your side and you have developed them even after taking these measures, you can try the following treatment options to cure these stones in your throat.
Will home remedies work?
A few tips up your sleeve can help you get relief from the terrible soreness caused by the stones inside the throat. Some of the tips you can try are-
- Maintaining healthy oral hygiene- Due to the constant presence of bacteria in your mouth, it is considered as the dirtiest part of the body. One of the first things you should do is to keep your mouth clean. You can do this by using a good toothpaste and gargling with saline water.
- Eating a good balanced diet- If you eat a well-balanced diet, it will help to maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria which can prevent the development of these stones. So, eat a balanced diet with the right vitamins, minerals and probiotics.
- Using mouthwashes- Sometimes brushing your teeth isn’t enough to maintain good oral hygiene. You might need much more than that such as using alcohol-free mouthwashes. These mouthwashes help to eliminate the bad bacteria that grows in your mouth.
- Flossing can help- We Indians are not in a habit of flossing on a daily basis. But we fail to understand that this is one of the best practices to maintain oral hygiene. The stones formed due to trapping of some food remnants can be easily removed by flossing. After flossing it is important to wash your mouth properly.
- Supplementing with probiotics- Consume probiotics to maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria. Foods that you consume are not enough to compensate for the requisite amount of good bacteria.
- Changing your toothbrush frequently- Although we do not change our brush frequently, we should as new toothbrushes are more successful in removing the food remnants attached to the mouth.
- Drinking ample amount of water- Drink more and more water to keep your mouth moist. This will not only help you flush away the unnecessary debris but also maintain the right balance of the body.
- Avoiding acidic foods- Bacteria can sustain and multiply fast in an acidic environment. So it sounds reasonable if you avoid eating foods that are acidic.
- Restricting the consumption of sugary foods- If you are in a habit of drinking sugary or fizzy drinks, then it is the time you stop them right away. Stones are more likely to develop in a sugary environment.
- Cutting out dairy foods from the diet- Restrict eating dairy products such as milk, cheese, ice cream as this causes mucus to accumulate that can lead to the formation of these stones.
What to do when home remedies don’t work?
When home remedies are not proving to be as effective as expected or the condition is frequent and critical, then doctors suggest tonsillectomy. This is the permanent solution to prevent tonsil stones in which the tonsils are removed. This can be performed using a coblator, a scalpel device or a laser treatment.
Out of these three, the most effective technique is laser treatment. It is a non-invasive treatment option that involves absolutely no cuts or incisions. Apart from being painless, these benefits make laser treatment more preferable-
- Almost no pain. You’ll not feel any pain nor any discomfort as this whole procedure is performed under the influence of anesthesia.
- Minimal bleeding. As no cuts or incisions are involved, there is almost no loss of blood.
- Faster recovery. You’ll be able to recover within two days after the surgery.
- Fewer chances of infection. Studies show that patients who have undergone laser-based procedures have almost zero risks of any infection.
- Improved quality of life. The problem with tonsil stones is they are recurring. But after curing with laser treatment, the chances of recurrence is reduced to almost nil.
Dr. Siddharth Vashishtha
MBBS, M.S. | Specialist in Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeries