What Is a Tonsil Stone?

Have you been suffering from a sore throat, have difficulty swallowing, or notice persistent bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth? These symptoms could point to a tonsil stone, a calcified formation in the nodes at the back of the mouth and throat.

Though tonsil stones may be annoying, they rarely create major health problems. Still, the complications can feel disruptive, so you might worry about how to avoid them.

A dentist can help you get rid of stubborn tonsil stones and prevent their development. Read on to find responses to frequently asked questions about tonsil stones and the dental treatments that can remove them.

dental exam to prevent tonsil stones

How Does a Tonsil Stone Form?

The job of your tonsils is to filter bacteria and germs that might want to enter the body and trap them. The tonsils feature crevices known as tonsillar crypts to collect harmful debris. But when mucus, food particles, and other residues get stuck there, they can calcify over time, creating stones.

This hard material does not often feel painful or severely ruin your everyday schedule. But tonsil stones can give you chronic bad breath and heighten your risk of infections like tonsilitis. You might see the stones when you look at the back of your throat in a mirror or you might have a feeling that something is stuck in your throat.

How Can My Dentist Treat Tonsil Stones?

A dentist can diagnose tonsil stones through a visual exam or a dental x-ray. In many cases, a tonsil stone will dislodge on its own. But you can make efforts at home to get rid of them as well.

You can gargle with salt water to try to remove these stones or rinse your mouth and throat with apple cider vinegar. This can break down the stone, making it easier to dislodge.

A dentist may help you eradicate larger tonsil stones gently with a cotton swab or pick. For persistent or stubborn stones, they might refer you to a doctor for surgical removal. Those with recurring tonsil stones or a higher propensity for infections in the tonsils might benefit from a tonsillectomy.

Can I Prevent Tonsil Stone Formation?

You can reduce your risk of forming tonsil stones with good at-home dental care. Drink plenty of water to flush out any lingering particles in your tonsils, especially after eating.

Those with a history of tonsil stones might want to gargle after meals for extra prevention. You should also quit a smoking habit to stop toxins from cigarettes or vapes from constantly reaching the back of your throat.

Proper oral hygiene will keep your mouth clean and scrub away harmful residues that might otherwise end up in your tonsillar crypts and create stones. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, including your tongue, and floss on a daily basis. Attend routine teeth cleanings and oral exams to maximize your preventative dental care.