Tonsil stones (tonsilloliths) are small, hardened deposits that form in the crypts (folds) of the tonsils. They can be white, yellow, or brown, and they are usually about the size of a rice grain. Tonsil stones are more common in adults than in children.
Symptoms of tonsil stones
The most common symptom of tonsil stones is bad breath. Other symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- White or yellow spots on the tonsils
- A lump in the throat
Causes of tonsil stones
Tonsil stones form when food particles, bacteria, and dead cells get trapped in the crypts of the tonsils. The tonsils are located at the back of the throat, and they help to trap and filter bacteria. When bacteria, food particles, and dead cells get trapped in the crypts of the tonsils, they can form hard deposits called tonsil stones.
Treatment for tonsil stones
Most tonsil stones are small and do not cause any problems. They will often go away on their own within a few days or weeks. However, if tonsil stones are large or cause discomfort, there are a number of treatments available, including:
- Home remedies: Gargling with salt water or using a waterpik can help to remove tonsil stones.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be used to treat tonsil stones that are caused by a bacterial infection.
- Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be recommended to remove tonsil stones or to remove the tonsils altogether.
Prevention of tonsil stones
There is no surefire way to prevent tonsil stones, but there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk, such as:
- Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking can irritate the tonsils and make them more susceptible to tonsil stones.
If you have any concerns about tonsil stones, be sure to talk to your doctor.