I had never heard of tonsil stones before; and then I started finding these hard little clumps of goo coming out of my tonsils. I thought then that it was a really weird thing, but I've learned since that one out of ten people have tonsil stones (also called tonsilloliths) at some point. So the question is – what are they and what causes them? Tonsil stones are little stone shaped calcified formations that develop in the crypts and crevices of your tonsils. Your tonsils work as filters, removing bacteria and other toxins before you swallow them. But they also capture other “junk” like nasal drip and food debris, and all these things can build up in the creases and pockets of your tonsils. The accumulations calcify over time, forming tonsilloliths.
Sometimes, the only clue you might have that there is any problem will be a consistent problem with bad breath – this is called halitosis. You may brush and rinse your mouth frequently, but still be plagued with bad breath, and sometimes a bad taste in your mouth. The odor comes from the bacteria in the tonsil stones; it has a smell similar to that of rotted food. If the tonsilloliths do not work their way out of the tonsils and continue to grow bigger, it can start to feel like you have something caught in your throat, and may even hurt when you swallow. They can cause inflammation of the tonsils, or even infections that lead to fever. It can be accompanied by earache or cold symptoms. If you're suffering from any of these symptoms, you should check with your doctor to confirm whether or not tonsil stones are the culprit.
Seeing blobs of white goo coming out of your tonsils can be scary if you are not aware of what they are; it can also be frustrating to suffer from the symptoms knowing that there is no real cure for the problem. However, there are a few things you can do to ameliorate the problems that they bring. Gargling every day with salty, warm water can help break down the stones so that they come out on their own and you can rinse them out of your mouth. It also helps to alleviate any sore throat pain associated with the tonsilloliths. Once they are flushed out from your tonsils, you'll have relief from the symptoms they bring – but be aware that they usually return.
You might want to use your toothbrush or a cotton swab to gently rub across the surface of your tonsils to help remove the stones – some people make this a part of their daily routine to help avoid the bad breath associated with them. The best cure is to do what you can to prevent them, including brushing after each meal and drinking plenty of water.