Bad breath can be caused by a number of things, such as certain medications, poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, etc. One possible cause of your bad breath could be tonsil stones. Tonsil stones are calcified lumps of bacteria and debris that can get caught in your tonsils. A dentist can help you remove any tonsil stones you may have and recommend products that can reduce their recurrence. Read on to learn more about tonsil stones.

Who is at Risk for Tonsil Stones?

While practicing good oral hygiene, like brushing and flossing, can certainly help to reduce bacteria in your mouth, it's a misconception that tonsil stones are caused by poor oral hygiene. If you have a family history of tonsil stones, your tonsils just may develop them more easily. Also, people with allergies or chronic sinus problems are more likely to develop them.

Besides Bad Breath, What Other Symptoms Could You Experience?

Sometimes you can actually see the stones as white flecks on your tonsils. If you cannot see anything, you might still have an impacted tonsil stone. Besides causing bad breath, tonsil stones can cause painful swallowing, swollen oral tissue, and ear pain.

How Can a Dentist Remove Them?

Some people can gently remove the tonsil stones themselves with tongue depressors or cotton swabs. If you cannot see any stones or cannot remove them without gagging, then you may want to have your dentist remove them. A dentist can use the air/water syringe to loosen the stones, and then he or she will use suction (the saliva ejector tube), to pull the stones out.

How Can You Prevent Them?

If your tonsils are in bad shape, your dentist might recommend you to an oral surgeon or an ENT to have them removed. However, some people don't want to remove their tonsils since they play an important part in the immune system. Thankfully, there are other ways to prevent tonsil stones besides removing the tonsils completely.

According to dentistry IQ, one study found that sulfur compounds can produce the anaerobic bacteria that plays a role in tonsil stone development; so, if you are prone to tonsil stones, you should avoid certain drinks (e.g. wine), rinses, and pastes that contain these types of compounds. Your dentist can help you identify which products and drinks to avoid.

Another way to prevent tonsil stones is with a water flosser or waterpik. These types of tools send streams of water into your mouth which can loosen bacteria and small stones before they get too big.

Lastly, your dentist can set you up with an oxygen-infused mouthwash. These mouthwashes contain ingredients like chlorine dioxide and natural zinc compounds. Bacteria cannot thrive in an oxygen-rich environment, so these types of mouthwashes are great at preventing bacterial growth and stone formation.

Reach out to a dentist in your area for more help today.