If you were to ask the average person where can stones develop in the human body, the most common answers would be the kidneys or the gall bladder. However, unbeknownst to most, the tonsils can also develop stones.
The function of the tonsils is to fight and prevent infection that come into the body through the mouth. They help to trap viruses, bacteria and other harmful foreign invaders however, they can often become infected themselves which is why most people believe they are a waste of space
Tonsil stones typically form when the tonsils become coated with debris. Examples of this type of debris include:
- Dead cells
If not removed, the debris is fed upon by harmful bacteria and their remains calcify to form the stones – which can also be referred to as tonsilloliths or tonsil calculi.
It is common for those affected by tonsil stones to not know what they are. In fact, they are so common that they are identified in about 10 percent of the CT scans performed in the United States. If left untreated, tonsil stones can contribute to the growth of bacteria in the throat and can emit an unpleasant smell.
You may be asking yourself “why do you get tonsil stones?” Well there are actually a few reasons why you could get them and I’ve discussed this below.
Causes of Tonsil Stones
As previously mentioned, the tonsils are small mounds of tissue in the back of the throat. The mounds of tissue are also filled with nooks, spaces and crannies where materials such as mucus, dead cells, food and bacteria can become trapped.
This can occur in anyone, but those who have chronic tonsil inflammation or tonsillitis can be prone to developing tonsil stones. Those who are affected generally have small tonsil stones on their tonsils - it is very rare to be affected by a large tonsil stone.
A person's diet may also be a factor in whether or not tonsil stones develop in the back of their throat.
In fact, dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt can increase a person's chances of getting tonsil stones. These foods not only contain calcium, but they can also promote the formation of mucus. Seeing as this is one of the biggest contributors to tonsil stone development, it only make sense that you should avoid it.
You should also avoid junk food and fizzy drinks. They promote almost no nutritional value so you won’t be able to fuel your immune system enough so that it can fight harmful bacteria effectively. It’ll also incorporate even more bad bacteria and fungi into your mouth as well.
If you are prone to developing tonsil stones, these foods should be cut from your diet or eaten in moderation.
Tobacco and alcohol are also thought to be contributing factors to tonsil stone development. Both of these substances can have a drying effect on the mouth and throat which effects your salvia levels.
In order to keep bacteria activity at bay, you need to have sufficient levels of saliva. If you don’t then the bacteria and fungi will be free to do what it wants – feed on debris and cause infection.
For the same reason above, if you don’t drink enough water your salvia levels will drop which makes it easier for infection to be caused.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene can also lead to the development of tonsil stones. If bacteria is allowed to remain in your mouth due to not brushing and flossing, and food particles begin to accumulate, tonsil problems can become noticeable quickly.
In order to prevent infection, you need to be incorporating new, good bacteria into your mouth and clearing out old, harmful bacteria.
The old adage is true, prevention is the best medicine. With that said, one of the best ways to treat tonsil stones is to implement a vigorous oral hygiene routine. The routine should consist of brushing and flossing after every meal and using an alcohol free mouthwash to gargle. The mouthwash will reach the back of the throat and help to remove the stones without drying out the mouth.
However, if you don’t want to do this then you can gargle with salty, warm water. This can be especially effective if the tonsil stones are causing discomfort.
Tonsil stones are common in those who suffer with tonsillitis and inflammation in the throat. The only way to prevent them is to have the tonsils removed. Good oral hygiene and a proper diet can reduce the chances of tonsil stones developing.