Tonsils are small pockets located at the back of the mouth/throat. They are made up of spongy tissue referred to as lymphocytes.
Tonsils have a role to play in the body’s immune system; they make up the body’s first line of defense against germs. Their main function is to keep viruses and bacteria from entering the body through the mouth and throat.
Over time, food particles, germs and viruses accumulate in the tonsils, causing a variety of negative effects, among them, tonsil stones.
How Tonsil Stones Form
Tonsil stones form as sulfur producing bacteria and food particles get stuck in the small crevices making up the surface of tonsils. As the debris decays, and more accumulates, the matter solidifies forming white or yellow colored stones.
It’s worth noting that the process by which these stones are formed is quite natural as the body protects it from viruses and bacteria.
A number of tonsil stones may form, or a single large one, as a result of the decay of these debris and bacteria.
Although tonsil stones are commonly seen in people who suffer from regular cases of tonsil infection, they also form in the absence of infections.
At this point it’s worth stating that the size of tonsil stones influences the severity of the symptoms experienced.
Over time, it is normal for you to cough up small white particles, indicating that you have tonsil stones.
Another common symptom of tonsil stones is chronic bad breath. This occurs as the decaying debris combine with unstable sulfur compounds originating from bacteria found under the tongue.
If you have been experiencing bad breath which does not gone away even with regular use of normal mouthwashes and toothpastes, you might be suffering from the effects of tonsil stones.
Since tonsils are located at the back of the throat, tonsil stones tend to be hard to spot. When undetected for a long time, they may grow in size and become inflamed. This may cause a variety of symptoms including difficulty when swallowing, pain in the ears due to shared nerves, sore throat, coughing and choking among others.
Treatment And Prevention
Tonsil stones can be dissolved by gargling warm salt water. In serious cases the affected tonsils may have to be completely removed through a procedure referred to as tonsillectomy; this is however not ideal.
Practicing proper dental hygiene, and washing down food particles with a glass of water after meals will go a long way in preventing the formation of tonsil stones.
Now you may be asking yourself, are tonsil stones bad for you? Well that depends on how you look at it.
From a medical stand point, they don’t pose any serious threat to your overall health. Other than causing a few annoying symptoms, they won’t cause you any problems.
But from a psychological stand point, it can pose a serious threat to your mental health. Some of the symptoms caused by tonsil stones, particularly extremely bad breath, can make people refrain from social situations, often to the point where they are afraid to talk to anyone.