What Are Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones, also called “tonsilloliths”, are hard formations that build up on your tonsils, located in the back of your throat. Tonsil stones can range in size from about the size of a grain of rice to, in extreme cases, the size of a grape. While tonsil stones don’t usually put you at risk for any serious health issues, they can cause your tonsils to swell and become painful. Tonsil stones also have a bad odor, which can cause bad breath.

What Causes Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones develop when debris and bacteria made up of food, dead cells, and mucus build up in the crevices of your tonsils. These particles eventually harden, causing tonsil stones that can sometimes be coughed up and end up in your mouth. This means that if you have had your tonsils removed for one reason or another, you won’t have tonsil stones. While the specific cause of tonsil stones is different in each case, they’re often caused by poor dental hygiene, tonsillitis, and sinus issues. 

How Can I Prevent Tonsil Stones?

The best way to prevent tonsil stones is by practicing good oral hygiene. To do this, you should be brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice per day, as well as flossing at least once per day. You should also be sure to have a checkup and professional cleaning done by your dentist every six months. Some other ways to prevent tonsil stone buildup include drinking lots of water, gargling with salt water, and quitting smoking. Once tonsil stones have developed, there are multiple ways to remove them. The most common way to both discover and remove tonsil stones is by simply coughing them up. If you cough up a tiny, white or yellow hard formation that may have a bad odor, it’s likely a tonsil stone. There are also ways that your dentist can remove and prevent tonsil stones, including laser tonsil cryptolysis, coblation cryptolysis, and tonsillectomies. You can also be prescribed certain antibiotics that lower the bacteria count in your mouth and help prevent tonsil stones.

Contact Gentle Dental Of Southern Maine

If you have any questions about tonsil stones or any other oral health problems, don’t hesitate to contact Gentle Dental! With offices in Biddeford, Topsham, and South Portland, we’re here to provide the southern Maine region with the very best in family dentistry. If you’re not yet a patient with us, please fill out the new patient form on our website or give us a call at one of our offices!