bad breath and tonsils

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Understanding The Connection Between Bad Breath And Tonsils

For many who suffer from chronic halitosis, there's a definite connection between their bad breath and tonsils. That connection comes in the form of tonsilloliths, also known as tonsil stones


Bad Breath and Tonsils: How and Where Tonsilloliths Form

The surface of a tonsil is covered with pockets, or crypts. The surface can be fairly smooth with shallow crypts, or it can be rough with deep crypts. When a tonsil becomes inflamed, the crypts expand. If the crypts are large enough, debris may become lodged in them.


This debris may consist of food particles, dead oral tissue cells, post-nasal drip mucous, and various bacteria. Some of the bacteria are from the back of the tongue and sinuses. These bacteria are a primary cause of bad breath for everyone, even those who've had a tonsillectomy.


All of this debris gets mixed together. The body senses this mixture as foreign to the body and sends white blood cells to attack the invader. All this activity produces a white or yellowish clump, shaped like a cauliflower. If this clump falls from the crypt early, it may be soft with a texture akin to that of cheese. Usually, though, the clumps are hard as a rock.

Frequently, the stones are so small that they're swallowed without notice. But if a larger one gets on your tongue, you'll quickly discover that it tastes horrible and smells atrocious. Those smelly clumps are the connection between bad breath and tonsils.

In many cases, though, tonsilloliths cause extreme discomfort with many sufferers reporting the feeling that they have something stuck in the back of their throat. Larger tonsilloliths can also cause a persistent sore throat as well as frequent bouts of tonsillitis. And let's not forget the odor. As I mentioned earlier, tonsilloliths are very pungent, and that odor flows from your mouth every time you exhale.

If this describes your situation, I'm sure the question on your mind is "What can I do about it?"


There are a number of methods for removing tonsilloliths up to and including surgery. Better yet, there are ways to eliminate the odor, and at the same time, prevent tonsil stones from forming in the future.


Bad Breath and Tonsils: Methods for Removing Tonsilloliths

Tonsilloliths can be dislodged by using your fingernail to poke at them and scrape them out. But I don't recommend doing it this way as it's not very hygienic. If you insist on using this method, please do yourself a big favor and first wash your hands thoroughly.

Many sufferers have reported successfully dislodging tonsilloliths by using a cotton swab to poke and squeeze the tonsilar crypts. Make sure you use high-quality swabs and first moisten the swab with water. The last thing you need right now is to have cotton strands stuck in the back of your throat.

Another implement you can use is your toothbrush as long as it has soft bristles. This method will have a greater tendency to make you gag than the first two methods, but it's more effective, more sanitary, and safer than the first two.

Do you own a Waterpik Irrigator or similar device? The tongue attachment can be used to direct a spray into the tonsilar crypts. Only use this type of device on the lowest available pressure setting. If it hurts to do this, the pressure is too high, and you should discontinue use immediately. Some who have experienced this problem have modified the tongue attachment. Using a small hobby drill, slightly enlarge the opening in the tip of the tongue attachment.

If the do-it-yourself approach doesn't appeal to you, you'll need to see an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist). There are a number of techniques available to an ENT, including surgical excision of the stones.

The ENT can also advise you on the ultimate method for both removing and preventing tonsilloliths, and that's a tonsillectomy. Keep in mind that a tonsillectomy carries greater risks and more pain for adults than children. Make sure you discuss the benefits and risks with your ENT before you decide whether or not to have the surgery.


Bad Breath and Tonsils: How To Prevent Tonsil Stones

Given the above methods for removing tonsilloliths, each with its own risks, wouldn't it be better if you could just prevent tonsil stones from forming in the first place, or at least reduce the frequency of occurrence? Well, you can. Follow my method and even if your tonsil stones are not completely eliminated, you'll no longer suffer from problems with bad breath and tonsils.

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