Are you struggling with bad breath and wonder if tonsil stones might be the cause? Are you worried that the pain you feel in your mouth is from your tonsils? Do you maybe think that your tonsil are infected because of those yellow things on them?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at these questions and several more as we find out everything we need to know about tonsils, tonsil stones, and infection.
Ready? Let’s get started.
What are tonsil stones?
Well, to answer that question, we need know what our tonsils are.
In the back of your mouth, on either sides of your mouth, underneath your uvula, are your tonsils. They’re made up of lymph tissue, and are part of your lymph system. Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with your lymph system – basically, it helps fight off infections, whether bacterial or viral.
So, generally speaking, your tonsils are part of your immune system, designed to fight off infection. Which… backfires on itself sometimes.
Your tonsils are covered in divots and pockets, called crypts. Sometimes, bacteria like to hide out in these crypts and buddy up with dead cells, food particles, and/or mucus. When all of the junk joins together and starts growing, it can form into a tonsil stone.
Usually, tonsil stones are yellow or white in color, and pebble shaped. Because of the sulfur compounds the tonsil stone in formed with, bad breath is often the first symptom of tonsil stones. The stones might make it painful to swallow, can cause a sore throat, and much more if the tonsil stones aren’t treated.
In fact, the tonsil stones can, indeed, cause an infection if they aren’t taken care of.
The “How” Behind Tonsil Stones Causing Infection
Well, let’s start with what begins the whole tonsil stone making process. Bacteria.
When bacteria stays in one area too long, it’ll do what bacteria always does and spread about.
While it does this, it’ll begin to attack cells in that area.
So you have your tonsils, with bacteria roaming about as it pleases from the tonsil stones. This bacteria build-up causes infection on your tonsils and tissues surrounding the tonsils. If you don’t treat the problem, it can lead to several more issues, such as sore throat, strep throat, and more.
Identifying infection on your tonsils shouldn’t be too hard – just open your mouth up and see if your tonsils are inflamed or swollen. Look for white or yellow pus surrounding your tonsils.
If you’ve taken the plunge and decided to remove your tonsil stones, but see some blood while you’re doing it, that also could be another sign on tonsil infection.
How can we treat the tonsil stones and infection?
Now that we’ve figured out that we do or don’t have tonsil stones, we can decide how we’re going to treat the problem. There are several solutions to each problem, and some with a “kill-two-birds-with-one-stone” approach.
Treating the infection
Perhaps the best thing to do to treat tonsil infection is to call your dentist dearest up and consult him/her.
If you want to try an at-home treatment, I’d start with gentle swishing of coconut oil. Coconut oil is known for its antibacterial properties, making it great for killing off bacteria hanging around in your mouth. Start with a tablespoon or so, and keep it moving in your mouth. It may thicken a little in your mouth, but as long as it doesn’t stay in one place, it shouldn’t solidify.
Dilute hydrogen peroxide with water (equal amounts of each) and use it as a gargle. Hydrogen peroxide is used to clean out cuts from infection, so it makes sense to use it as a cleanser for infection in your mouth. Be careful not to swallow the gargle, though!
Treating the tonsil stones
There are several methods of removing tonsils stones:
- Try using your tongue, a fingernail, the back of your toothbrush, a q-tip, or a cotton swab to poke the stone out of place.
- Make yourself a saltwater gargle by dissolving ½ salt into 8 ounces of warm water. Simply tilt your head back and blow air until the stone is washed away.
- Buy yourself some dental power tools if you like adventure. There are plenty of oral water irrigators online and in stores that you can use to blast those tonsil stones out of place, as well as give your tonsils a good cleaning!
- Sometimes, the simplest thing to do is try a couple of forceful (but not aggressive) coughs to push that stone out of place.
If you want to try a “kill-two-birds-with-one-stone” approach, try out one of the gargles mentioned. Hopefully, this will start washing away tonsil stones and bacteria in a couple swishes.
Foods That You Can Avoid
Of course, one of the ways you can stop tonsil stones from forming is to control your diet and stay away from foods that may cause tonsil stones.
We actually have a whole article on that HERE.
But here’s a shorthand version:
Dairy promotes mucus production, which can cause post nasal drip, which can cause tonsil stones. Dairy also is prominently formed of calcium – which tonsil stones are also formed of.
Processed sugar encourages bacteria to come roam about and causes your mouth to dry up, which is prime bacteria playground.
Coffee is high in acidity, which bacteria also love. Every time you sip, I’m sure that those bacteria in your mouth are rejoicing. Also, like dairy, coffee can cause mucus production, and so on so forth.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you try out raw fruits and veggies as alternative to other bacteria-promoting foods. They’re known to reduce the amount of mucus in your mouth, which we already know is a factor of tonsil stones. More than that, raw fruits and veggies have never been proven to cause tonsil stones.
Also, drink your water! It’s a healthier alternative to coffee or soda and other drinks. It’ll help keep your mouth hydrated, and clear your mouth of any bacteria or food particles still kicking around. If you find water boring or disgusting, add some flavor! I personally love lemon and ginger.
Lastly, practice good oral hygiene! Brush your teeth regularly, use that dental floss, and maybe finish up with some gargling or a mouthwash. Practicing good oral hygiene will reduce the amount of bad bacteria in your mouth and create a healthy environment for your mouth.
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