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Bad breath is among the most common complaints of children and adults. One estimate suggests that up to 30% of adults complain of having bad breath. Could tonsil stones be the culprit of bad breath and other oral health concerns? To correctly answer that, we must first identify what tonsils stones are and what causes them.
What Are Tonsil Stones?
Tonsil stones are small growths in the tonsils. These deposits are called tonsil stones because they are found on or within the tonsils and present like hard or calcified “rocks.”
They are most commonly seen as white spots on the tonsils, or areas of the tonsils that are red, bumpy, or swollen.
Tonsil stones may be equated with kidney stones, but tonsil stones are not quite the same. They are not usually associated with disease or decay and do not typically pose any real harm to your health.
The Role Your Tonsils Play
Your tonsils play an important part in your body’s immune system. Tonsils essentially function as small nets that prevent bacteria, debris, and other materials from passing through the throat and nasal passages. Although many people have their tonsils removed without serious or adverse side effects, most doctors do not automatically recommend having them surgically removed unless removing tonsil stones becomes a regular or difficult occurrence.
Trapped Bacteria and Debris
Tonsil stones’ exact composition varies. Symptoms of tonsil stones vary from person to person and include sore throat, bad breath, and discomfort while swallowing. Some tonsil stones may also be asymptomatic.
Over time, the trapped bacteria and debris that have accumulated can cause infection of the tonsils. When this occurs, it is essential to get rid of tonsil stones as soon as possible.
The debris that makes up tonsil stones is usually innocuous. This debris consists of expected mucus, skin cells, and food particles. The size of the pockets or “crypts” on tonsils can also contribute to the development of stones. With proper hygiene and care, crypts may not have as much material to collect and harden.
Tonsil Stones and Dentistry
It may not seem that tonsil health and dental health go hand in hand, but good oral hygiene can actually play a large role in preventing tonsil stones from forming. Many tonsil stones can be removed with a toothbrush or a cotton swab. Preventing them altogether is usually the better route to prevent discomfort or injury.
Do Healthy People Get Tonsil Stones?
Healthy people can get tonsil stones. Because the stones themselves are not indicators of inflammation, health and tonsil stone development are not intrinsically linked. Tonsil stone formation is typically a result of inadequate hygiene rather than health.
Preventive Dental Care and Tonsil Stones
Preventive dental care can be an important part of your home remedy arsenal to fight against tonsil stone formation. Regular brushing and flossing, consistent dental visits, and simple salt water rinses can help prevent tonsil stones and improve your oral health. Tonsil stones are made up of debris. Consequently, removing dental plaque can cut down on the material available to become lodged in the tonsils.
Managing Oral Health for Tonsil Stone Prevention
Many people do not link the health of their throat, nasal passages, and tonsils to their oral health, but each of these is closely linked. When your oral health is not at an optimal state, your overall health follows suit. Your dentist can offer additional information about how to maintain your oral health and subsequently aid your overall health.
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