Bad breath. It’s a problem most of us wish to avoid whenever possible. If you spend time brushing in the morning and at night and you floss your teeth and drink plenty of water throughout the day, it is only right to expect that your breath would be relatively fresh most of the time. The thing is, bad breath doesn’t always have to do with your teeth. Sometimes, the odor may stem from a sinus problem. Sometimes, it originates right at the back of the throat with what are called tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones are small formations that develop in pockets within the tonsils. When you look in your mouth, you may see the white or yellow formations that are causing your breath to change for the worse. Tonsil stones are not growths. They typically don’t pose a health concern. They are more of a nuisance that can create mild discomfort depending on size (stones can range from the size of a grain of rice to a grape).
What Causes Tonsil Stones?
The tonsils are relatively soft pieces of tissue at the back of the throat. Debris such as saliva, mucus, and food particles can collect at the back of the mouth and become trapped in a pocket of soft tissue. Over time, the debris can harden. The presence of the stone invites fungi and bacteria to feed. It is the accumulation of microorganisms around the stone that leads to bad breath.
What to Do about Tonsil Stones
The detail that people with tonsil stones want to know most is how they can get rid of their little problem that is impacting their lives in a big way. Those who get tonsil stones tend to experience these growths repeatedly over time. In addition to brushing teeth regularly, doctors recommend a few easy steps for getting rid of stones and discouraging future formations:
- Avoid smoking.
- Drink water throughout the day.
- Don’t just brush, also clean the back of the tongue to prevent debris and bacteria from accumulating.
- Gargle with warm, salty water.
Salty water can be gargled several times a day to dislodge an existing stone. This is a preferred method of treatment for many people because the alternative of using a toothbrush or Q-tip to pick a stone out is usually met with intense gagging. Picking at tonsil stones is discouraged by doctors because the tissue at the back of the throat is delicate and could be damaged. Doctors recommend treatment such as tonsillectomy only in extreme cases of repeat stones and infection.
St. Louis Sinus Center has solutions for allergies, sinus, and snoring problems that help you live more comfortably. For more information on our services, call our St. Louis or Festus office.