What Are Those Weird White Things in the Back of My Mouth?

Young man wearing a black leather jacket and backwards baseball cap anxiously covers his mouth due to bad breath from tonsil stones

Your teeth and gums aren’t the only aspects of your mouth that affect your oral health! Your tonsils have a major impact on your oral and overall health too. If you happen to notice small white spots on your tonsil area, you might have tonsil stones.

About Tonsil Stones (AKA Tonsilloliths)

Your tonsils are two pads of lymph tissue at the back of your mouth that are supposed to help ward off bacteria and infection, but they can be the source of a lot of literal and figurative pain if they themselves become infected. Food particles, mucus, and saliva can collect in the wrinkly craters and pits of your tonsils called tonsillar crypts. If these accumulations do not clear out over time, bacteria can latch onto them and cause bad breath, inflammation, and infection. Even though it’s your body’s way of trying to prevent infection, these yellowish-white lumps (that look a bit like minced garlic) can become bothersome if they become trapped and grow too large.

Who Gets Tonsil Stones?

If you have tonsils, you’re at risk for developing tonsil stones. Some people may be more susceptible to them than others, including those with enlarged tonsils, those who consume a lot of dairy products (which themselves include live bacteria), those going through puberty, and those who neglect their oral hygiene.

How Do I Know If I Have Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones have quite a few telltale indicators, including:

  • Yellowish-white cheese-like beads on and in the crevices of your tonsils
  • Bad breath
  • Discomfort when swallowing
  • Chronic sore throat
  • A ticklish feeling that something is stuck in the back of your throat
  • Ear pain

How Do I Treat Tonsil Stones?

Be very careful when trying to dislodge your tonsil stones because your tonsils are very delicate:

  • Try gargling with warm salt water rinses until you dislodge the tonsil stone.
  • Gently irrigate your tonsils with a water flosser on the lowest stream setting.
  • Avoid using sharp objects and unclean fingers to scrape at your tonsils.
  • Consult an ear-nose-throat specialist to remove stubborn tonsil stones.

How Can I Prevent Tonsil Stones?

Practice excellent at-home oral hygiene to cut down on the likelihood that you’ll develop bacteria overgrowth in your mouth and tonsils:

  • Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to dislodge bacteria and food particles from your teeth and gums before they wind up in your tonsils.
  • Be sure to brush your tongue at least once every day, from back-to-front and from side-to-side.
  • Moreover, rinse with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash at least a few times a week.
  • If you find yourself repeatedly having extremely large and uncomfortable tonsil stones, debilitating tonsil infections, and/or trouble sleeping due to obstructive sleep apnea, discuss with your doctor whether you’d benefit from a tonsillectomy, in which your tonsils are removed.

Another way to protect yourself from tonsil stones is to visit us at Bluedot Dental for twice yearly checkups. Contact our team to schedule a cleaning and exam today!

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