The Quick Explanation
Here’s the sweet and simple definition: Tonsil stones, also known by their scientific name tonsilliolith, are calcified particles which form in the nooks and crannies of tonsilse and are a source of food for sulfur producing bacteria.
Below each aspect of why tonsil stones form and what exactly they consist of will be discussed in detail.
Without tonsils there would be no tonsil stones, so why do we have tonsils in the first place?
The official definition: “Either of two small masses of lymphoid tissue in the throat, one on each side of the root of the tongue.”
When we’re young, this lymphoid tissue helps create antibodies which protect us from diseases and fight infections. They are the first line of defense for bacteria entering through the mouth and thus a reason why they swell and become sore at times while combating these germs.
These tonsils have crevices or crypts all around, little nooks and crannies which particles can get lodged into and stuck. It’s in these crypts which tonsil stones form.
How do Tonsil Stones form?
So in these crevices in the tonsil, deposits of stuff get stuck. This stuff can range from mucus to dead cells to saliva to food particles. These all act as food for bacteria which will feast upon the nutritious meal just sitting there for them and produce sulfur as a waste product. In the mean time, these deposits will slowly calcify and turn into the white/yellowish stones that we know them to be.
What exactly are Tonsil Stones made up of?
Tonsil stones are made up of the primarily calcium and also include other minerals. Here’s a list of everything that they consist of:
How to recognize a Tonsil Stone?
So how exactly do you know if what you just coughed up was a tonsil stone? Let’s break down the characteristics of a tonsil stone.
- Small ant sized to large pea sized
- Irregular shaped
- .3g to 42g
- Smooth exterior
- Firm, but squishable into a mush
- White to yellowish
- Will darken and turn more brown with age
- Sulfur/rotten eggs
- When squished its odor infects everything that it touches
Fun fact: if you leave a removed tonsil stone out in the air it will dramatically shrink in size and turn brown with time.
How do you know if your tonsils have tonsil stones?
Here are some of the biggest symptoms that may indicate that you have tonsil stones:
- Bad breath, otherwise known as hailtosis
- Sore throat or discomfort
- Ear pain
- Inflammation of tonsils
- You can see white specks on your tonsils
- Metallic taste in mouth
Now we know why and what tonsils stones are, let’s take a look at how we can treat them.