Many patients think very little about their tonsils each day. Unless they are a source of pain for you then your tonsils are likely out of sight and out of mind.
However, held within your tonsils could be the primary source of your on-going bad breath which you may rightfully be more aware of after someone points it out to you.
Your tonsils are not all bad though – they help filter bacteria and viruses that come in through your mouth. Tonsils are also a great source of white blood cells and thus aids them in their ability to kill germs.
While the role of your tonsils sounds very important, for some individuals they can be prone to persistent infections, and as a result, are removed.
What do your tonsils do?
By opening your mouth wide, you can see the two glands at the back of your mouth that make up your tonsils. Your tonsils are used to assist your immune system in blocking viruses and bacteria from entering your body.
Since your tonsils are intended to be a stop gate of sorts for bacteria they can pile up and become clogged with food and other materials.
What is a tonsil stone?
Small chunks of food or debris can get caught in the gaps of your tonsil are commonly referred to as tonsil stones. Keck Medicine compares the tonsil to a sponge – containing plenty of holes and crevices.
When these pieces harden, they form temporary calcium deposits. Often times patients only become aware of the presence of a tonsil stone after suffering from persistent bad breath or swelling in their tonsils.
Why does this give me bad breath?
Because tonsils stones are composed primarily of bacteria, this is known to produce a foul-smelling sulfide. You will notice this both when the stone is in your tonsil and when it is dislodged and visible outside your body.
How can I remove tonsil stones?
If you are aware of your tonsil stones’ presence then they are likely causing you considerable trouble and it may be time to consult a medical professional.
However, if your tonsil stones are small enough that you are unaware of their presence, you may remove them unexpectedly. Repeated coughing or gargling of water can dislodge tonsil stones causing the chunk to land on your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth.
How can you prevent tonsil stones?
By brushing your teeth regularly you can ensure you are cleaning these bits of bacteria out of your mouth before they have a chance to stick to your tonsils. Mouthwash can be another great tool for freshening your breath and killing bacteria in your mouth.
If you are not already, flossing and staying hydrated throughout the day are both great ways to lessen buildup.