Tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones as they are also called, result from debris that gets lodged in your tonsillar crypts. In plain English, these crypts are pockets in your tonsils. Obviously, if your tonsils have been removed, you won't have this problem.
Tonsils range from being relatively smooth, with shallow pockets, to very rough with deep pockets. When your tonsils are swollen regularly, as they are with chronic tonsillitis, the openings to these crypts or pockets may become wider, and the crypts deeper. This allows a greater quantity of debris to accumulate. New stones may begin to form on top of older ones.
The debris from which the stones are formed consists of food particles, dead cells from the lining of your mouth, mucous from post-nasal drip, and bacteria of various sorts, especially anaerobic bacteria from the back of the tongue. Keep in mind that the anaerobic bacteria are a primary cause of bad breath. All of this gets jumbled up together and attacked by white blood cells. The result is a white or yellowish, cauliflower-shaped lump that's typically rock-hard and usually tastes horrible and smells atrocious.
As I've read what's been posted around the Internet by people who suffer from this condition, it's obvious that most people know very little about tonsil stones. Those who have them but don't understand what they are or where they come from, worry that they have a serious disease, maybe even cancer. Relax! Nothing could be further from the truth.
Those of you who really suffer from this problem will probably find this difficult to believe, but for many people, tonsil stones are barely noticeable. The stones are small, the tonsil crypts not too deep, so the stones fall out on their own or as the result of a cough. But for others, tonsil stones may cause extreme discomfort. In addition to chronic bad breath, failure to remove tonsilloliths may result in the feeling that there's an object lodged in the back of the throat. It could also cause a persistent sore throat as well as frequent bouts of tonsillitis.
Now that you have an understanding of what they are, where and how they form, you're ready to learn how to remove tonsilloliths, and more importantly, how to prevent tonsil stones from forming in the first place.
Many people remove tonsilloliths by poking at them and scraping them out with a fingernail. There are drawbacks to using this method. For one thing, it's not very hygienic plus you could scratch your tonsil. If you insist on using this method, please wash your hands thoroughly with an anti-bacterial soap first.
Another low-tech method is to use a cotton swab to squeeze your tonsil until any stones come out. If you decide to try this, I recommend that you moisten the swab with water first. This will help prevent cotton strands from sticking to your tonsil.
If you're one of those who insist on poking at their tonsils with a swab or finger to remove tonsilloliths, consider using your toothbrush instead. Although this method is more likely to make you gag, it's also more effective, more sanitary, and safer than the first two. When using this method, be sure to use a soft toothbrush. Gently brush the part of the tonsil where you believe the stone is.
Maybe you'd prefer to remove tonsilloliths using a method that's a bit more high-tech and accurate. Do you have an irrigating device such as a Waterpik Irrigator? If you do, you can use the tongue attachment to direct a spray into the crypt containing the tonsil stone. It's important to use the device on its lowest pressure setting. Be aware that for some people, even the lowest setting is too strong. A spray that's too strong is capable of tearing through tonsil tissue. If this is the case, you can modify the tongue attachment by using a small hobby drill to enlarge the tip slightly.
If you can't get rid of them yourself, and they're still driving you nuts, it's time to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, or ENT. Your dentist or doctor can refer you to a good ENT. There are a number of techniques available to an ENT, including surgical excision of the stones.
There is one more way to remove tonsilloliths that's far more effective than any of the others, and that's to have your tonsils taken out. I can't recommend this method if you're having it done just to eliminate tonsil stones. This surgery is risky enough for a child. For adults, the risk is higher and the pain following the surgery is guaranteed to be more intense. If your ENT recommends the procedure be done for other reasons, then it makes sense to consider it. Your ENT will discuss the benefits and risks with you to help you make the informed decision that's best for you.
No matter which method you use to remove tonsilloliths, I'm sure you'll agree that you'd be a lot happier if you could prevent tonsil stones from forming in the first place, or at least reduce the frequency of occurrence. Even if they aren't completely eliminated, follow my method and you will no longer suffer from the chronic bad breath associated with the stones.
Here are some steps you can take to dissolve and remove tonsilloliths and tonsil stones without surgery. A simple combination of AktivOxigen Tablets and Nasal Sinus Drops will effectively eliminate tonsil stones without unnecessary tonsil surgery. Plus, the occasional use of an oxygenating spray will help to neutralize the anaerobic sulfur-producing bacteria immediately on contact.
Now keep in mind, if you truly want to prevent bad breath then you must use an oxygenating toothpaste and mouthwash and ideally a tongue scraper to neutralize the anaerobic bacteria from the very back of the tongue. When you use such an oxygenating toothpaste and mouthwash (like TheraBreath) you will experience a residual effect from the AktivOxigen/Nasal-Sinus Drops solution, and it will prevent tonsil stones from ever forming again.