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Tonsil stones

What are tonsil stones?

These are foreign “stones” that calcify in the tonsils’ crevices, in what are called “tonsillar crypts.” They can be very small to very large, up to the size of a peppercorn, and are a cream or white color. They’re mostly comprised of collagen, but they can make one have very bad breath, because the fact that they are comprised of waste material means that they emit gaseous substances like hydrogen sulfide. This makes bad breath a constant problem, leading to difficulty both personally and socially. It’s not healthy to have bad breath, of course, and it’s even more unhealthy to have this type of decay occurring in the back of one’s mouth.

Let’s take a look at tonsil stones, why they occur, their symptoms, and current (ineffective and even dangerous) cures as they exist today.

Why do tonsil stones occur?

Tonsil stones often occur in people who have recurrent infections; they can also be a symptom of poor oral hygiene or can simply occur because someone has very large tonsil “crevices,” that substances get trapped in. The tonsil stones can be comprised of a number of or combination of substances like dead white blood cells, mucous secretions, or food particles that have begun to decay.

What are the symptoms of tonsil stones?

Adults get tonsil stones more often than children do, and many don’t have any symptoms. However, they can produce symptoms as they get larger, including tonsil swelling, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, or earache. Oftentimes, those with very large tonsil stones feel as though they have something lodged in the backs of their throats — because truly, they do. The most prominent and common symptom if one has tonsil stones is halitosis, or very bad breath. This can cause difficulties not only with health, but in social situations, as well. After all, it can be quite difficult to get close to people when one’s breath is very unpleasant. Some have described the smell as being that of rotten eggs.

Can tonsil stones be “cured”?

Tonsil stones can be removed, but this can be problematic and uncomfortable. Dentists and physicians, for example, recommend using a WaterPik and gargle, sometimes with hydrogen peroxide included. This can be difficult because when tonsil stones are removed in this way, it can be traumatic and cause sores.

Another alternative, of course, is simply having one’s tonsils out. Nonetheless, this is also problematic because physicians are now recommending that the tonsils not be removed except as a last resort. In addition, although this is a relatively simple operation for children, it’s very difficult for adults to go through.

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Posted on Mar 2, 2011

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