What are tonsil stones and how are they removed?

Pain in any part of your mouth is cause for concern. Typically, you’re hyper-aware of tooth pain and maybe jaw pain and if you feel that, you will seek help from your dentist or another dental professional, but what about the back of your throat?

If you feel pain or inflammation in the back of your throat, your first instinct might be to assume that it’s strep throat or allergies. Sometimes, that pain is the result of a problem with your tonsils. Your tonsils are two masses similar to lymph nodes that are in the back of your throat. They serve as defense mechanisms against infections. Ideally, they capture bacteria and germs before they reach any farther into your oral cavity.

What are tonsil stones?

Tonsils can become infected, which results in tonsillitis. This is common in children but can occur at any age. Another common concern is tonsil stones. Tonsil stones can occur when food or bacteria gets stuck in the folds of your tonsils. That buildup forms a stone-like substance that can cause bad breath, sore throat, painful swallowing, hoarseness, and inflammation.

While this condition is painful and can cause a host of issues, it’s something that you can treat at home.

Over time, tonsil stones will dislodge themselves. Likely, you will end up swallowing them, most likely without noticing. In some instances, tonsil stones do not resolve on their own or continue to grow. In these cases, you should seek the help of a dental professional.

Sometimes, a person who experiences tonsil stones frequently is better off having their tonsils removed. A tonsillectomy is a simple procedure that will remove the tonsils in order to prevent future infections.

If you have tonsil stones, here are six at-home remedies to try.

Tonsil Stone Home Remedies

  1. Low-Pressure Water Irrigator

A water irrigator, or a water flosser, can help loosen tonsil stones. Just aim the water at the tonsil stone and be aware that it may be pushed down your throat and cause you to cough.

Regularly using a water flosser is a great way to keep your mouth clean and prevent the formation of tonsil stones.


  1. Non-alcoholic Mouthwash

Gently swishing mouthwash around your mouth can kill bacteria and loosen tonsil stones.


  1. Saltwater Gargle

This is another easy way to loosen tonsil stones. Simply, mix half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle for 10-15 seconds.


  1. Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle

Apple cider vinegar may break down the materials in the tonsil stones. Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water and gargle three times a day to see the best results.

If you frequently have tonsil stones, you shouldn’t use this method too often. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to lead to tooth decay and even digestive issues.

  1. Cotton Swabs

This method is not typically recommended by dentists, because there’s a risk of bleeding.

Taking a damp cotton swab and gently sweeping the affected area may help to remove the tonsil stones.

  1. Toothbrush

This method is also risky, but you can gently use a toothbrush to dislodge the tonsil stones.

If you think that you have tonsil stones, but none of these at-home treatments are working for you, please call our office. Schedule an appointment with a dental professional who can help treat tonsil stones.

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