Have you ever found a smelly, yellowish-white ball of material in your mouth? These are called tonsil stones and they are quite common. While they are completely harmless and are not associated with any life-threatening health conditions, they can certainly be unpleasant and may even cause bad breath. If you are wondering about these mysterious whitish lumps, read on to find out more about tonsil stones and how you can prevent them.
What Are Tonsil Stones?
Known by medical professionals as tonsilloliths, tonsil stones arise from deposits of food and debris that become lodged in the ridges of your tonsils. These deposits make a handy food source for the naturally occurring bacteria that live in your mouth, and as those bacteria go through their life cycles, their bodies pile up and become calcified. This creates a sticky, smelly ball that stays in your tonsils, growing in size until it becomes dislodged. Tonsil stones are usually about 1-2 millimeters in diameter, but they can potentially become larger.
In most cases, you won’t notice a tonsil stone until it pops out, but you may be able to see them as white spots on your tonsils. Again, they are harmless, but they may create a bad smell or unpleasant taste in your mouth. If they become large enough, tonsil stones can also cause swelling and soreness in the throat.
How to Prevent Tonsil Stones
If you currently have a tonsil stone that is bothering you, it can usually be dislodged using a cotton swab or your finger. Just be careful to avoid scratching your throat. If tonsil stones are a frequent occurrence for you, you may want to speak with a doctor about the best way to deal with the situation. In some extreme cases, your doctor may recommend having your tonsils removed to prevent pain and swelling, although this is usually not necessary and the problem can be dealt with using non-surgical methods.
Once your tonsils are clear of stones, you can prevent future recurrence by being extra diligent with your oral healthcare routine. Brushing twice per day helps to keep the bacteria and fungi that make up your mouth biome in check so they don’t grow out of control. Flossing will remove bacteria, plaque, and food deposits between your teeth that can contribute to tonsil stone formation. Rinsing and gargling with an American Dental Association-approved mouthwash will keep bacteria under control in the back of your throat so that tonsil stones don’t grow too large. Finally, visiting the dentist every six months will keep your mouth cleaner, and if your tonsil stones are becoming bothersome, you can discuss it with them and develop a treatment plan.
The great thing about preventing tonsil stones is that it will also help you keep your teeth and gums healthier, benefiting your overall health in the process. You don’t have to do anything special to prevent tonsil stones; simply take good care of your mouth and the problem will resolve itself!
General Dentistry in Chicago
If you are looking for affordable dental services in River West Chicago or anywhere else in Chicagoland, American Dental would like to hear from you! Our friendly and knowledgeable team of dental care specialists can help you deal with tonsil stones and a range of other oral health concerns, including cosmetic dentistry and emergency dentistry. Click the “Make an Appointment” button at the top of this page to find a list of our 8 Chicago area dental clinics and call or click to schedule your appointment online today.