Tonsil stones are an issue for millions of Americans, causing them to rank amongst the nation's most widespread oral care issues. Also known as tonsilloliths, a Greek word that translates to tonsil stones, these hard off-white or yellow-white objects are found in small pockets in the tonsils called tonsil crypts. Tonsil stones occur when microbes, mucous, food and other oral debris accumulate in the tonsil crypts, where they are the cause of notoriously bad breath.
In addition to halitosis, tonsil stones commonly cause the very irritating feeling of something foreign being caught in the back of the mouth. Many who suffer from tonsil stones are so troubled by these unwanted indications that they consider the extreme move of permitting their tonsils to be taken out in an operation called a tonsillectomy.
A tonsillectomy was once quite a common operation, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, when children frequently had their tonsils taken out. Today, America's doctors perform about 600,000 tonsillectomies annually. Because the total number of tonsillectomies has declined, many more people still have their tonsils than in the past. As a result, tonsil stones are more prevalent today than they once were.
Although a tonsillectomy will eliminate the bad breath and discomfort associated with tonsil stones, virtually all medical experts consider this operation to be a much too radical solution to the dilemma of tonsil stones. This is especially true for adults pondering the procedure. As we age, the risk of unintended complications from surgery, even from relatively minor procedures, rises significantly.
Fortunately, surgery is seldom indicated and treating tonsil stones without a tonsillectomy is easy. Those afflicted with tonsil stones can usually remove the stones by themselves through coughing, massaging the throat, or by using a cotton swab or oral irrigation tool like a Waterpik. Occasionally, however, a pronounced gag reflex may necessitate a visit to the dentist
If natural methods don't seem to help, consider the use of an oxygenating rinse and nasal sinus drops. These will combat the accumulation of oral bacteria and mucous in the tonsils and help prevent the recurrence of tonsil stones.