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Roswell Dentist- Tonsil Stones , One Cause of Bad Breath
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Posted by  in Oral Health

I would probably never have thought to write about “tonsil stones” if our daughter had not run downstairs completely grossed out that something had fallen out of her tonsils. I have had the pleasant experience of this happening to my wife; but it was before the wonderful world of the internet. At that time, we figured it was gone never to be seen again…

After a quick Google search, I realized that these little white/yellow bits of nastiness that fall out of tonsils are called “Tonsilloliths”, or “Tonsil Stones”. According to WebMD,

What Causes Tonsil Stones?

Your tonsils are filled with nooks and crannies where bacteria and other materials, including dead cells and mucous, can become trapped. When this occurs, the debris can become concentrated in white formations that occur in the pockets.

Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are formed when this trapped debris hardens, or calcifies. This tends to occur most often in people who suffer from chronic inflammation in their tonsils or repeated bouts of tonsillitis.

While many people have small tonsilloliths that develop in their tonsils, it is quite rare to have a large and solidified tonsil stone.

What Are the Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?

Many small tonsil stones do not cause any noticeable symptoms. Even when they are large, some tonsil stones are only discovered incidentally on X-rays or CT scans. Some larger tonsilloliths, however, may have multiple symptoms:

Bad breath . One of the prime indicators of a tonsil stone is exceedingly bad breath, or halitosis, that accompanies a tonsil infection. One study of patients with a form of chronic tonsillitis used a special test to see if volatile sulfur compounds were contained in the subjects’ breath. The presence of these foul-smelling compounds provides objective evidence of bad breath. The researchers found that 75% of the people who had abnormally high concentrations of these compounds also had tonsil stones. Other researchers have suggested that tonsil stones be considered in situations when the cause of bad breath is in question.

Sore throat . When a tonsil stone and tonsillitis occur together, it can be difficult to determine whether the pain in your throat is caused by your infection or the tonsil stone. The presence of a tonsil stone itself, though, may cause you to feel pain or discomfort in the area where it is lodged.

White debris. Some tonsil stones are visible in the back of the throat as a lump of solid white material. This is not always the case. Often they are hidden in the folds of the tonsils. In these instances, they may only be detectable with the help of non-invasive scanning techniques, such as CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging.

Difficulty swallowing. Depending on the location or size of the tonsil stone, it may be difficult or painful to swallow foods or liquids.

Ear pain. Tonsil stones can develop anywhere in the tonsil. Because of shared nerve pathways, they may cause a person to feel referred pain in the ear, even though the stone itself is not touching the ear.

Tonsil swelling. When collected debris hardens and a tonsil stone forms, inflammation from infection (if present) and the tonsil stone itself may cause a tonsil to swell or become larger.

So, it looks like tonsil stones are fairly harmless; but the bad breath that they can cause are troublesome. Warm salt water rinses can help the body to rid the tonsils of the stones and other bad breath causing bacteria. If the problem persists, it is recommended that you see a physician.

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