As the name suggests, tonsil stones are hard, calcified, calcified masses that form inside the pits and crevices of the tonsils. How to remove tonsil stones depends on its cause and severity. You may never realize they’re there until secondary problems like bad breath start to appear.
What causes tonsil stones?
Sometimes tonsil stones form for no apparent reason. In other cases, they “run” in people who are at risk of developing kidney stones. Or someone’s lack of oral hygiene can mean that too much bacteria builds up in the mouth, resulting in the accumulation of plaque and food debris.
People with chronic tonsillitis, sinus infections, allergies, or postnasal drip are more likely to develop tonsil stones due to enlarged tonsils and surface crypts. Crypts are often caused by persistent tonsillitis and remaining scar tissue.
How long do tonsil stones last?
Just like tartar builds up in teeth, most tonsil stones remain until they are physically cleared. But how to get rid of tonsil stones is not the same as regular dental cleanings. In most cases, “tonsilloliths” (which is the technical term used to describe tonsil stones) last for months or years until a doctor removes them.
Sometimes people remove the tonsils on their own by physically cleaning them, gargling vigorously, or even coughing them out. Tonsil stones are likely to persist for a long time if left alone and not removed.
If you are wondering how to remove tonsil stones, there are several “safe” ways to remove them yourself. BUT: You are at risk of injury or infection after having your tonsils removed. In other words, do it at your own risk!
1) Low pressure irrigation
If you are using enough water pressure, physically flushing the tonsil stones is enough to remove the tonsils. A handheld irrigator (which looks like a large plastic syringe) or a low-pressure hose can provide consistent pressure where it’s needed. Place the tip near the edge of the tonsil stone, rinse the water, and let it flow down around the edge, pushing the stone out. The downside to using a irrigator is the potential for a gag reflex.
2) Rinse your mouth without alcohol
One of the surest ways to remove tonsil stones that you feel in your throat is gargling. You can use plain tap water, salt water, or an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash. Rinsing not only loosens the tonsils, but also removes excess bacteria and keeps them from getting bigger.
If your tonsil stones are still relatively soft or have more drainage, pus build-up, and an infection in your tonsils, your doctor may recommend antibiotics. Antibiotics help reduce swelling of the tonsils, so the tonsil crypts are not that big. In this way, you can reduce the chances of tonsil stones forming again and limit the number of bacteria responsible for their formation.
A common thing people with tonsil stones do is cough them up. If the stone has already loosened a little, coughing will help loosen it completely. Be careful not to cough violently, because instead of clearing the tonsils, you may cough up or vomit blood. Of course, if you’re always coughing, it makes people think you’re going through some illness or something. We can have that happen these days! But of course, if it helps to pass tonsil stones, you can have a gentle cough in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
2) Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse
If your tonsils are swollen as a result of persistent allergies or respiratory infections, rinsing with apple cider vinegar can help. ACV can sometimes help with bacterial and inflammatory types of infections, so give it a try! Instead of rinsing with straight apple cider vinegar, add one tablespoon to a glass of water.
3) Rinse with salt water
Salt water is safe and has a natural ability to remove inflammation from the tissues. If your tonsils are swollen and irritated due to tonsil stones, rinsing with salt water several times a day can help ease the discomfort.
4) Essential oils
You probably didn’t realize that essential oils (like peppermint) are one of the most important antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash. Dilute a few drops of essential oil in a glass of water and you are making your own mouthwash! If you rinse it several times a day, the temperature of bacteria accumulated around the tonsils
et can lower your risk of getting tonsil stones. If you’re prone to getting tonsilloliths in the first place, eating onion is more of a preventive solution. But there’s always a risk for onion breath! You’ll have to decide if the trade-off is worth it.
Studies show that garlic has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral capabilities. Supplementing with garlic could potentially eliminate or lower your chance of having tonsil stones. But like onions, garlic doesn’t help with the bad breath factor.