You may not have heard much of tonsil stones. But if you are plagued by bad breath in spite of good oral habits or experience a sore throat, earache, and an irritable cough without a reason, it’s time to consider the possibility of tonsil stones. Tonsil stones may even leave a bad taste in your mouth. You may also have some difficulty swallowing or feel like there’s something stuck in the back of your throat. If these sound familiar, here’s what you can do about tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones are basically made of debris that builds up in your tonsils. Tonsils are glands situated at the back of the throat and they contain folds called tonsillar crypts. Minerals like calcium as well as dead cells and mucus can collect in these folds and solidify into small whitish blobs. Fungi and bacteria that infect your tonsils and cause tonsillitis can also play a role in the development of these stones.1 2
Simple Natural Remedies For Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones don’t cause any symptoms or require treatment in many cases. In some instances, depending on the size or frequency at which they form, your doctor may recommend laser treatment to smoothen the folds in your tonsils so that debris can’t collect in them. It’s also possible to surgically remove your tonsils to avoid the accumulation.3 In most cases, however, some simple home remedies can help dislodge these stones.
1. Cough Them Up
Coughing is a natural process by which your body keeps your airways and throat clear. And coughing purposefully can help you expel tonsil stones.4
How to go about it: Coughing with a little force can dislodge tonsil stones. Do remember to cough into a tissue though, as these stones can smell pretty bad. Be sure not to overstress or injure your throat.
2. Try A Salt Water Gargle
Gargling with warm salty water can be helpful if you have tonsil stones. Salt water can help loosen them. It also has an antibacterial effect. The very process of gargling can help wash away harmful germs from your mouth as well.
How to go about it: Mix half a teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water to make a gargle. Gargle twice a day regularly. Do make sure you spit out the water after you’re done gargling as this water can contain debris and germs. This remedy might not be suitable for small children who may accidentally swallow the gargle.5 6
3. Pick It Off
If your tonsil stones are visible, you can try to pick them off. However, you’ll need to reach into your throat to do this so this remedy carries the unpleasant risk of gagging.
How to go about it: Use a dental pick to dislodge those tonsil stones. Make sure you have sufficient light and do be careful not to damage tissue.
4. Try A Swab
You could also try to remove tonsil stones with the help of a cotton swab. This remedy also involves reaching into your throat and may trigger your gag reflex.7
How to go about it: You can use a clean cotton swab to gently wipe tonsil stones off. Place the swab beneath the tonsil stone, apply gentle pressure at the bottom, and push upward so that it pops out.
5. Use A Water Flosser
A water flosser or irrigator allows you to focus a jet of water into your mouth. This stream of water can help to gently dislodge any tonsil stones that you have.
How to go about it: The water flosser comprises a container that holds water and is connected to a pipe that can stream water into your mouth. Fill your water flosser with warm water. Now open your mouth and use a mirror to aim a jet of water at the back of your throat. The pulsating water should be able to dislodge your tonsil stones. Remember, it’s best to start off with the water flosser at a low setting. Also, use a flashlight if you’re not able to see clearly. Finish off with a salt water gargle.8
6. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Practicing good oral healthcare can be useful if you have tonsil stones. It can help get rid of germs and debris involved in the formation of stones as well as help manage symptoms like bad breath.
Brush And Floss
Brushing twice a day is necessary for maintaining the health of your teeth. It helps to get rid of plaque, food particles, and other debris from your mouth before they can make their way to your throat. Also, make sure you floss every day to dislodge debris stuck between your teeth.
Make sure you drink sufficient water. This can help clean out the back of your throat and stop debris from accumulating.9 Though the amount of water that you need can vary from person to person, on average, a man needs about 2.6 liters a day while a woman needs about 2.1 liters. So make sure you don’t skimp on water!10
Try An Odor-Busting Tea
If you find plain water boring, you can try a cup of green tea with beneficial mint and cinnamon to clean your mouth and get rid of bad breath. Green tea, mint, and cinnamon have antimicrobial properties and can be effective against oral pathogens. Mint and cinnamon also have the added benefit of being aromatic. So a cup of tea with these can help keep your mouth clean and germ-free.
What to do: You will need 2 tablespoons of green tea, 1 cinnamon stick, and a teaspoon of fresh mint leaves. Boil 2 cups of water. Take the water off the stove, let it cool a bit and add the green tea, cinnamon stick, and mint leaves (crushed) to it. Let it steep for about 5 minutes. Strain and drink up your delicious, mouth-freshening tea.11
|↑1||Tonsil stones. Healthdirect Australia.|
|↑2, ↑4||In Tonsils, a Problem the Size of a Pea. The New York Times.|
|↑3, ↑5, ↑8||Get Rid Of Tonsil Stones – Be Free Of Them Forever. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.|
|↑6||Treating tonsillitis . National health Service.|
|↑7, ↑9||Get Rid Of Tonsil Stones Forever. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.|
|↑10||Water – a vital nutrient. Department of Health and Human Services.|
|↑11||White, Linda B., Barbara H. Seeber, and Barbara Brownell Grogan. 500 Time-tested Home Remedies and the Science Behind Them: Ease Aches, Pains, Ailments, and More with Hundreds of Simple and Effective At-home Treatments. Fair Winds Press, 2013.|