How To Get Rid Of Tonsil Stones

Because tonsillectomies are less common than they used to be, many people still have their tonsils these days (via UNC Health Talk). However, if you still have your tonsils, chances are you've experienced the annoying and somewhat gross problem of tonsil stones or tonsilloliths (via Healthline). You might develop tonsil stones if you have poor dental hygiene. Other reasons they develop are if you have large tonsils, suffer from chronic sinus issues, or have chronic tonsillitis. 

While Everyday Health reported the hard white or yellow formations in your tonsils don't pose a severe health risk, they can be annoying and cause bad breath, a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, and more (via Healthline). If you experience these issues, there are things you can do to help. Of course, if you're unbothered by these formations in your tonsils, doctors recommend leaving them alone entirely (via Everyday Health). However, if they cause you irritation, then there are a few things you can try to remove them on your own. If that doesn't work, then you will know when it's time to see a professional. Read on to find out some techniques you can use to get rid of tonsil stones.

Here's how to remove tonsil stones on your own

Getting rid of tonsil stones can be as simple as gargling with saltwater, which can dislodge the stones (via Healthline). Coughing is another possible way to remove tonsil stones with few risks or downsides.

Another removal method involves using a cotton swab, your toothbrush, or your finger to squeeze them out gently (via Everyday Health). Be aware, though, that this method might activate your gag reflex. Also note that you shouldn't use a sharp object to remove the formations. "There is risk for injury to the tonsil and bleeding," Dr. Jennifer Setlur told the publication. "There is a risk for vascular injury."

Another no-contact method of coaxing these annoying tonsil stones out is a water flosser. The benefit of using a water flosser is that you shouldn't gag, and there's no risk of injury from using sharp objects. 

If these home remedies don't work, there are some other options.

Here are your options for professional removal

If you have continued problems with tonsil stones, you might need to discuss it with your doctor. But, according to Everyday Health, typically, you don't need a tonsillectomy to get rid of these formations. "Most dentists or general practitioners may not want to manipulate this area and may recommend an ENT or oral surgeon," Dr. Jennifer Setlur told the publication.

Healthline reported that one possible solution is "laser tonsil cryptolysis," where a professional uses a laser to help eliminate the crypts where tonsil stones collect. You usually only need local anesthesia, and your recovery time should be minimal. Another similar procedure called "coblation cryptolysis" uses a salt solution and radio waves to cut through the crypts without causing a burning sensation in your throat. Finally, a complete tonsillectomy might be the last resort if you have persistent problems (via Everyday Health). Again, these surgical solutions are usually the last resort if tonsil stones significantly affect your quality of life. 

Be sure to talk to your doctor about your options if you experience frequent tonsil stones.