Tonsil stones are stones or deposits that form in the tonsils. The formation of tonsil stones often occurs due to a collection of food debris, or dead cells trapped in the tonsils.
The tonsils or tonsils are a pair of glands located at the back of the mouth. This gland functions to prevent infection, both viral and bacterial. The tonsils themselves have folds or gaps called tonsil crypts.
Tonsil stones or tonsilloliths form when foreign objects, such as food scraps or bacteria, accumulate in the crevices of the tonsils. This collection of foreign bodies can settle and harden to form tonsil stones.
A person can experience tonsil stones repeatedly. The number of tonsil stones can also be more than one, with small or large sizes. Although generally harmless, the formation of tonsil stones can cause a sore throat and bad breath .
Causes of Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones are caused by a buildup of foreign objects trapped in the opening of the tonsils. Over time, these foreign objects crystallize and harden like stone.
Some foreign objects that can cause tonsil stones to form are:
- Saliva or phlegm
- Dead cells
- Germs, such as bacteria or fungi, that enter the tonsils
It is not known exactly what causes tonsil stones to form. However, there are several factors that can increase the risk of this condition, namely:
- Teenage age
- Tonsillitis or recurrent ear infections
- Chronic sinusitis
- Large tonsil size
- Poor oral and dental hygiene
Symptoms of Tonsil Stones
Small tonsil stones usually don't cause any symptoms. However, if the tonsil stones are larger, several symptoms may appear, namely:
- A white or yellowish lump in the back of the mouth, with a rubbery or hard texture
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Sore throat
- Difficult to swallow
- Ear pain
- An uncomfortable feeling like something is stuck in the back of the mouth
- White crust on tonsils
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms, especially if they are accompanied by tonsillitis, sore throat, and recurring ear infections. You also need to see a doctor if you have done independent treatment but the condition does not improve.
Tonsil Stone Diagnosis
To diagnose tonsil stones, the doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms and medical history. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination, including examining the mouth, throat and tonsil areas.
Doctors can detect tonsil stones by examining the crevices of the tonsils. If the tonsil stones are too small and are located too deep in the tonsil opening, the doctor may perform a scan, such as an X-ray or CT scan .
Tonsil stones can also be detected accidentally when the patient is having a scan to diagnose another disease or when undergoing a dental examination.
Tonsil Stone Treatment
Treatment of tonsil stones aims to remove tonsil stones and relieve symptoms that arise in patients. The treatment method can be independent treatment at home, or medical action, depending on the size of the tonsil stones.
If the tonsil stones are small, the patient can do the following things to remove the tonsil stones:
- Gargling and gargling using salt water regularly
- Spraying salt water into the tonsil area using a syringe
- Cough forcefully so that the stone is released from the tonsil gap
- Gently press the area around the tonsils with a clean cotton swab to help remove tonsil stones
It's important to remember, if a strong cough can't get the tonsil stones out of the slits, don't try to force them on. This can make the throat hurt. Patients also may not pick up tonsil stones themselves with foreign objects, such as needles or toothpicks. This can cause sores on the tonsils and lead to infection.
If the tonsil stones are large, the doctor will perform the following actions:
Removal of tonsil stones Removal
of tonsil stones will be carried out slowly by a doctor using a medical hook and tweezers.
Cryptolysis is a procedure to thin the tonsils. This procedure can be performed using a laser ( laser cryptolysis ) or radio energy waves ( coblation cryptolysis ).
Surgical removal of the tonsils
In severe cases, the doctor will perform surgical removal of the tonsils ( tonsillectomy ). This operation aims to prevent repeated infections.
The doctor will give antibiotics if the patient has a bacterial infection. However, antibiotics are only limited to overcoming the bacteria that cause tonsil stones, not to get rid of tonsil stones.
Tonsil Stone Complications
Although rare, large tonsil stones can cause the following complications:
Tonsil Stone Prevention
To prevent tonsil stones, there are several things you can do, namely:
- Keep your teeth and mouth clean by brushing your teeth twice a day.
- Be sure to clean your tongue from front to back.
- Use mouthwash or salt water to rinse your mouth regularly.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages , because they can cause dry mouth so that tonsil stones are more easily formed.
- Drink enough water to prevent dehydration and dry mouth.
If you experience recurring tonsil infections or swollen tonsils, talk to your doctor about the need for surgical removal of the tonsils to prevent tonsil stones from forming.