Updated: Sep 6, 2020
*Cough* *Cough* and out comes a yellow, hard, stinky mass onto the floor, into your shoulder (great job for cough technique) or into your hands.
PSA: cough into shoulder – best practice for you and others
What are tonsil stones?
Tonsil stones are calcified masses of bacteria, dead skin cells, food and debris. They are usually small, but sizes vary. These particles get lodges into the clefts, pockets or pits of the tonsil, where they coagulate and calcify (calcium hardens the particles into a matrix) over time. The tonsils make a perfect hiding spot for these stinky stones. Unfortunately, the stones can cause tonsil inflammation.
Poor dental hygiene, large tonsils, tonsils with many grooves/pits, chronic sinus issues, or chronic tonsillitis are all associated with tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones are typically diagnosed via an x-ray or intra-oral inspection.
Typically, they don’t cause problems. They may cause a sore throat or ear pain. The most common symptom is bad breathe.
Saltwater gargles are a great option. Alternatively, you could use a q-tip or waterpik to remove the stone. Tongue brushing may be a useful adjunct to your dental hygiene regimen.
Should you be worried?
Not really. They are usually harmless and can be removed easily. In rare cases, you may develop constant tonsillitis (tonsil inflammation) and be prescribed a tonsillotomy (partial removal of tonsils) or tonsillectomy (complete tonsil removal).
Tonsil stones are generally a cosmetic concern due to the bad breathe they cause, which an be eliminated or managed by working with your dentist.