Tonsil stones or tonsilloliths are calcified formations that can occur in the tonsils. They are often small, but they can grow to be quite large. Though they are not always painful, they can cause discomfort and lead to bad breath. If you have tonsil stones, your dentist can remove them surgically.
What are Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones are calcified lumps that form in the crypts of the tonsils. They are made up of dead white blood cells, bacteria, mucus, and other debris.
There are several reasons why you might get tonsil stones:
1. Poor oral hygiene – If you don’t brush your teeth and tongue regularly, bacteria and plaque will build up and create a perfect environment for tonsil stones to form.
2. Smoking or chewing tobacco – Tobacco products create a moist environment where bacteria can thrive.
3. Frequent alcohol consumption – Alcohol can also increase saliva production and lead to an increase in bacteria.
4. Eating dairy products – Dairy products can increase the formation of mucus, which can contribute to the formation of tonsil stones.
5. Genetic disposition – Some people are simply more prone to developing tonsil stones due to their genetics.
When Do You Need to see a Dentist?
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with your dentist:
1. Difficulty swallowing or breathing – If the stones are large enough, they can block the airway and cause difficulty breathing.
2. A sore throat that doesn’t go away – If you have a sore throat and it doesn’t improve after a few days, it could be a sign of tonsil stones.
3. White patches on the tonsils – Tonsil stones can cause white patches to form on the tonsils.
4. Excessive mucus – If you produce a lot of mucus, it could be a sign that you have tonsil stones.
5. Bad breath – Tonsil stones often cause bad breath.
6. Pain in the throat – You might experience pain in your throat if you have tonsil stones.
What Will the Dentist Do?
If you have tonsil stones, your dentist will likely do one of two things:
1. Remove the stones manually – Your dentist will use a special tool to remove the stones from your tonsils.
2. Treat the underlying cause – If your dentist determines that the cause of your tonsil stones is poor oral hygiene, they might recommend a course of treatment to improve your oral hygiene.
Tonsil Stones: Care Instructions
After seeing a dentist, what you can do at home:
Once you’ve seen the dentist and had the stones removed, there are a few things you can do at home to help prevent them from coming back:
1. Practice good oral hygiene – Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day, and floss regularly.
2. Quit smoking and chewing tobacco – Tobacco products can increase the production of saliva and lead to an increase in bacteria.
3. Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated will help keep your mouth moist and discourage the growth of bacteria.
4. Avoid dairy products – Dairy products can increase the production of mucus, which can contribute to the formation of tonsil stones.
5. Use a mouthwash – Mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine can help kill bacteria and reduce the risk of tonsil stones.
6. See your dentist regularly – Regular dental checkups can help identify and treat any problems that might lead to the formation of tonsil stones.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us. Our team at New Hyde Park Dental is always happy to help.