How to prevent tonsilloliths without surgery?
August 26, 2008 11:28 AM   Subscribe

How do I prevent tonsil stones (tonsilloliths) without removing my tonsils?

Recently I sneezed and a white/yellowish discharge popped out. It was very foul smelling and was disgusting. After some research, I realized for some strange reason I was now getting tonsil stones in the back of my throat. After my research I went to the bathroom, opened my mouth, and sure enough there was a small white buildup.

I don't have the means currently to get my tonsils taken out but would like to know if anyone has successfully prevented this build from occurring and effectively stopped their sore throat and bad breath.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If "after some research" doesn't mean visiting a real live doctor, then you're being irresponsible with your health. Go see one soon and don't do any more self-diagnosis on the Internet.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:39 AM on August 26, 2008

Listerine. Get some and gargle it nightly. That ought to help.
posted by phunniemee at 11:40 AM on August 26, 2008

In response to lmdba, it's a freaking tonsil stone. S/he doesn't need to go to the doctor for it. It's a waste of a copay and the doctor's going to laugh about it as soon as he walks out the door.

(If, however, you get recurring sore throats, then you should go to the doctor. But not for the occasional tonsil stone. Crimeny.)
posted by phunniemee at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

Listerine can make tonsiliths worse because by killing everything it throws off the natural ecosystem going on in your mouth, allowing the bad yeasts/bacteria to proliferate. Brushing, flossing, and tongue-scraping religiously is the better route (and works for me).
posted by emyd at 11:44 AM on August 26, 2008

When I mentioned this to my ENT, he blew it off, and told me to gargle with baking soda twice a day. I was there for spring time allergies, and once those got under control, my tonsil stones stopped.
posted by kimdog at 11:45 AM on August 26, 2008

White spots and the rest in your throat are symptoms of strep throat also.
posted by lee at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2008

Even if your tonsils are removed, you can still get tonsillolith-like pockets in/on the throat, as I do. Tonsil stones aren't harmful and don't necessarily indicate an important infection, or any infection for that matter. They are disgusting, though.
posted by wryly at 12:15 PM on August 26, 2008

We've discussed these little death-smelling balls before.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2008

Make sure what you have are indeed tonsil stones. They should be discreet objects rather than a film or a discharge or spots on your gums. If you have any of those other symptoms, get it checked out.

For standard-issue tonsil stones, you might want to start gargling with a hydrogen peroxide-based mouthwash like this. It probably won't get rid of any tonsil stones you already have but it should help prevent the formation of new ones.
posted by Mender at 12:23 PM on August 26, 2008

I've had these things for the last 15 years or so... They're an annoyance, but I've always been told they're harmless.

I was originally told that I could "brush my tonsils" if I wanted, to get rid of them ... The end result of this was that I involuntarily gagged at the taste of toothpaste for a number of years (Not handy). Now I just go at them with a Q-tip, press the tonsils till the stone comes out, and go on with my day.

My doctor was quick to say that they usually won't consider surgery unless there are infections involved. Surgery is risky business, and this is a pretty minor problem. It's gross, but a fair chunk of personal hygiene is.
posted by FortyT-wo at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2008

They should be discreet objects

Well, they should be, but they're not. They should be discrete objects.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

As a data point, I had some gross tonsiloliths for about a year, and the doctor said there wasn't any infection, etc. so I didn't really do anything about them, no gargling at all.
However, they went away once I lowered my stress level by getting a new job. So my theory is that a slightly low immune system can contribute to this kind of thing.
posted by MissSquare at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2008

I started getting tonsiloliths in my early 20s and thought they were food caught in my throat. It happened maybe once or twice a year, came out with some coaxing from my tongue or finger, and that was that. In my 30s they came on more and more frequently until they were a staple of my existence, with me never feeling my throat was fully clear, always with a nagging "something" there, and my breath smelled of death (per my wife)

I saw an ENT and he was reluctant to take out my tonsils just for tonsiloliths, however things were bad.

I tried gargling all the mouthwashes they say. I tried brushing but they'd be so far back I would end up gagging myself and sometimes vomiting (which also necessitated the purchase of several new toothbrushes). I would get various picks and try to dig them out and end up bleeding in the back of my throat and yet those smelly little buggers would rarely budge.

I have read all the information about gargles, but they didn't work for me. And like I said brushing and picks didn't work.

I ended up living with it until I could get my tonsils removed. Nothing else at all worked for me.

I'm not trying to suggest the impossible for you, but if it IS tonsoliths (and not strep or a yeast infection or anything else) then just know that trying to self-fix can cause more harm than good...

During the time I lived with it, sugar-free breathmints became my best friend.
posted by arniec at 1:03 PM on August 26, 2008

Gargling with salt water and gently cleaning my tonsils with a Q-tip soaked in salt water did the trick for me. Drinking a lot of fluids and trying to sleep with your mouth closed also helps.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:18 PM on August 26, 2008

Ok, I know your question is how to prevent these nasty little things, but I never figured that out. Mine were caused by post nasal drip which was pretty constant during allergy season. Like arniec, I had to eventually get my tonsils removed- I was 20. BUT... I found that putting pressure to the side of the tonsilloliths would cause it to sort of pop out. That said, be careful about doing this. The tonsilloliths (or popping of them?) caused the pockets in my tonsils to become bigger and deeper until my tonsils bled frequently. That convinced my ENT to take them out pretty quickly.

Good luck!
posted by veryhappyheidi at 7:49 PM on August 26, 2008

You know? I've been thinking about this question, and I don't think I've had a tonsillith since I started using my neti pot every day. I just use sea salt in it, and do it in the morning. I used to get big ol' gross ones, too. I've been doing it almost a year now and I don't think I've had even one.

It's worth a try (not like this). I did it for the allergy thing but I guess it's working for the tonsils too.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:04 AM on August 27, 2008

« Older Transhumanism in the Real World.   |   On an Urban Photo Safari in T.O. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.