But there is another common cause of chronic halitosis: tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths. Tonsil stones are clusters of calcified material that may inhabit deep holes in your tonsils called “crypts.” The substance has a cheese-like consistency and tends to smell … well, horrible.
Why Do Tonsil Stones Form?
The role of the tonsils is believed to be functioning to trap incoming viruses and bacteria particles that are passing through your throat. Within their nooks and crannies, bacteria, dead cells and mucous can become trapped and harden or calcify, resulting in small tonsil stones.
Symptoms of Tonsil Stones
One of the primary symptoms of tonsil stones is really bad breath. Patients may also have a sore throat, and lumps of solid white material may be seen in the back of the throat. Tonsil stones may also become dislodged during coughing or eating.
Large tonsil stones are fairly rare, but if they do develop they can cause problems swallowing, ear pain and tonsil swelling.
Preventing and Treating Tonsil Stones
The best way to prevent tonsil stones is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth and tongue properly twice a day, floss and use mouthwash. If you detect tonsil stones, you may want to gargle with salt water (dissolve ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water) and then attempt to dislodge them gently with a cotton swab, toothbrush or water pick.
If you have tonsil stones that you cannot remove yourself, talk to your Enlighten Dental Care dentist or doctor about removal. Tonsil stones are generally not a serious condition, but a tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils) may be warranted in severe, chronic cases.