If you spot a whitish mark at the back of your throat that causes you discomfort, it’s a sign of tonsil stones. Anyone who’s ever had them knows that tonsil stones are no fun. They bring with them a host of troubles such as difficulty in swallowing, inflammation, and yes, you guessed it right - tonsil stones smell really bad! But the good news is, tonsil stones are treatable and so is the tonsils smell and bad breath. So, let’s take you through everything you need to know about tonsil stones.
What causes tonsil stones?
Tonsils are your body’s first line of defense - they help filter viruses and bacteria that try to enter the body through the mouth. So, they essentially help the immune system and keep you healthy. However, tonsils are coated with the same mucus that lines the inside of your mouth. This mucus coating has several crypts or pits where tiny food particles, bacteria and debris can get stuck, which can then harden or calcify into tonsil stones. If you have experienced inflammation or irritation in the tonsils, then you are likely to be prone to tonsil stones as well.
Tonsil stones and bad breath
Tonsil stones are not that common, but they can happen at any age. Studies have shown that they can be responsible for stinky breath. In fact, it’s one of the lesser-known reasons why kids have bad breath as well. If you are concerned that the tonsil stones can develop into a more serious issue in the future, then it is probably best to consult your doctor.
Treating tonsil stones
There are some home remedies you can follow to treat tonsil stones and stave off that bad tonsils smell:
Gargle with salt water: Gargling with salt water can help treat and even dislodge the tonsil stones and ease discomfort. In a glass of warm water, add half a teaspoon of salt and gargle to treat tonsil stones. Coughing hard can also loosen the stones and speed up the recovery and help get rid of that horrible tonsil stones smell.
Minor surgical procedure: If you are fed up with tonsils causing bad breath and if it is becoming severe, then consider going to the doctor and get the stones removed with the help of a minor surgical procedure. Sometimes, the condition can be severe, and the doctor will be a better judge to check whether you need a tonsillectomy or not.
Antibiotics: In some cases, doctors also prescribe antibiotics to manage the tonsil stones better and ensure speedy recovery. Antibiotics can kill the bacteria that play an important role in the development of stones in the tonsils.
Preventing tonsil stones and halitosis
Now that we’ve discussed the treatment, here’s what you can do to prevent tonsil stones (and the accompanied halitosis) from occurring in the first place -
Quit smoking: Smoking can greatly irritate the tonsils. If you are a smoker then you are at a greater risk of developing tonsil stones and bad breath. Even if you don’t have tonsil stones, smoking alone is enough to give you a stinky breath. So, it is best to cut down on smoking or quit it altogether.
Avoid cold beverages: Drinking cold water or other cold beverages regularly can inflame the tonsils and increase the chances of developing stones. Avoiding cold beverages is the best way to go, especially if your tonsils are prone to irritation.
Brushing teeth regularly: Brushing the teeth regularly will keep any leftover food particles, bacteria and debris out of your mouth and away from the tonsils, thus preventing the occurrence of tonsil stones. Brush twice a day, once in the morning and later, at night before bed. If your teeth are more prone to decay and cavities, you can brush thrice a day. Brushing just once isn’t enough as the food particles can still get stuck in the crypts of the mouth and develop into stones if not taken care of. So, make sure that you brush regularly and use soft-bristled or electric toothbrushes like the ones from Oral-B for better results. Don’t forget to floss as well to remove hidden plaque from the mouth.
Rinsing with a mouthwash: One of the best ways to keep bacteria away is to rinse with a dental-approved, medicated mouthwash. Using a mouthwash after brushing can kill most of the bacteria present in the mouth and protect you from not just tonsil stones but a host of other teeth and gum conditions as well. Try going for a flavoured mouthwash as it will leave a pleasant aftertaste in the mouth and freshen the breath as well.
Visiting the dentist: One sure-shot way to prevent tonsil stones in the long run is to visit the dentist regularly. It is recommended to make a dental visit at least once in every six months, and get your teeth checked and cleaned professionally, to remove any debris stuck in the mouth. Not only will it prevent tonsil stones but also several other teeth and gum diseases.
Now that we have established the connection between tonsil stones and bad breath, here’s some good news - both the conditions are treatable. All you need to do is take care of your oral hygiene and follow healthy habits. Also, it is good to use advanced dental products such as the Oral-B electric toothbrushes that can remove any tiny food particles and debris stuck in the mouth and prevent it from getting stuck around the tonsils.
Interested in reading more about the causes of bad breath and remedies? Here’s a complete guide to bad breath causes and remedies.