Still Have Your Tonsils? You Could Develop Tonsil Stones — Learn How to Get Rid of Them For Good
I still have memories of being a teenager and randomly coughing up white rocks. At the time, I either spat them out or sometimes swallowed them if I felt them fall from inside my mouth. I definitely regret swallowing them; they taste worse than a barf jelly bean.
Recently, as I've continued to cough up these rocks over the years, I've gotten more curious about what they are and why they keep coming back. Turns out, these annoying things have a name: tonsil stones.
What Are Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones are small white or yellow calcified masses (that can resemble rocks or pebbles) on or surrounding the tonsils. Tonsil stones can be caused by debris getting caught in the crevices on and around your tonsils including food, mucus from postnasal drip, and other trapped bacteria.
While there isn't yet a specific way to prevent tonsil stones from returning, Cleveland Clinic recommends brushing your teeth regularly and warm salt-water rinses to keep those pesky stones at bay.
Ahead, learn about five ways tonsil stones can be removed at home or by a doctor. I've tried four of these five methods with mixed results, but they might work for you as everyone's throat is different. The fifth method is one that I'm the most nervous to try.
How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones: Water Pick
For my stubborn stones, this method rarely works. It sets off my gag reflex instead, which isn't the best feeling.
How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones: Tonsil Stone Removal Tool
How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones: Warm Salt Water Rinses
Yes, warm salt water rinses can be used to prevent stones as well as get rid of current ones. Personally, this method requires a lot of patience. For me, it takes several days of rinsing before I get the stone out.
Once you get the stone out, rinse with warm salt water again to disinfect the area where the stone once was.
How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones: Mouthwash Gargle
This is a method I stumbled upon when I was brushing my teeth one day. I had a pesky stone that was causing bad breath, so I thought to give myself a mouthwash gargle. In my mind, I thought a gargle would thoroughly eliminate my bad breath.
As I gargled I felt the stone dislodge and spat it out with glee. Since then I've gotten a new more stubborn stone that hasn't gone away with one gargle, so I've found that this method doesn't always work.
How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones: Remove Your Tonsils
Last on the list is the method I'm trying to avoid with all my might — a tonsillectomy. While many people in the United States get their tonsils removed as children, they do serve a purpose. Tonsils are a part of the immune system.
From childhood through adulthood, I've always been the friend that rarely gets sick. As a friend of mine put it, "If Angelica gets sick, we're all doomed." Personally, I feel like a part of that has to do with the fact that I still have my tonsils.
The tonsils both trap pathogens and can produce antibodies to kill pathogens. So while I'm thoroughly annoyed with having tonsil stones return on such a frequent basis, I do have plans to consult my otolaryngologist before deciding on a tonsillectomy, especially because recurring stones along with trouble breathing could be signs of tonsil cancer.
So if you feel like your tonsils have been annoying you for far too long, make an appointment to see your otolaryngologist.