Though they don’t usually cause any pain, tonsil stones can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth – literally.
According to Cleveland Clinic, tonsil stones, also known as tonsilliths, are “small lumps of hard material that form in the tonsils.” They come with a range of possible symptoms, including a sore throat and a pesky earache. Though you may have never heard of them, tonsil stones are actually quite common, and you may have them and not even know it! Cleveland Clinic states that if noticeable symptoms appear, they can include the following.
Symptoms of Tonsil Stones
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Small white or yellow stones that you may spit up
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling that something’s stuck in your throat
- Small white patches on your tonsils
- Throat infections that are hard to treat with antibiotics
What Causes Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones can form when debris, like food, bacteria, or fungi, gets trapped in the tonsillar crypts and hardens.
How Are Tonsil Stones Diagnosed?
Sometimes, a doctor or dentist comes across tonsil stones during routine exams. If you visit a doctor with symptoms of tonsil stones, the provider might confirm the diagnosis via a physical examination of your mouth and throat or an imaging scan.
How Are Tonsil Stones Treated?
There is no specific treatment for tonsil stones, however, some people are able to dislodge stones by gargling with salt water or even coughing. Sometimes, larger stones, or ones that are causing pain and discomfort, might need to be removed surgically.
Can Tonsil Stones Be Prevented?
There are some preventative measures you can take to avoid tonsil stones, including:
- Brushing your teeth and the back of your tongue regularly
- Quitting smoking
- Gargling after eating
- Staying hydrated
For more information on tonsil stones and their treatment, visit my.clevelandclinic.org.