How to get rid of tonsil stones
Most of us have had at least a problem or two with inflamed tonsils. Tonsils contain cells called lymphocytes that are a critical component in the immune system that help to fight off infections. In order to function well as a germ filter in the immune system, the tissues of a tonsil consist of a convoluted system with crevices and structures to trap virus particles and other foreign objects. Over time, debris consisting of dead cells, food, saliva and mucus may become trapped in these crevices, forming pockets of small, white masses. Calcification of these masses leads to the formation of tonsilloliths, more commonly referred to as tonsil stones. Depending on the size of these objects, they can be removed using a variety of medical and non-medical procedures.
Drinking carbonated drinks and gargling with salty warm water
One of the easiest ways to remove a tonsil stone is by drinking a carbonated drink and gargling salty warm water. This can be easily done at home and is an inexpensive way to remove the stones. The carbonation in a soft drink will help to dislodge the stone while the salty water will help with the discomfort that comes with the tonsil stones.
Using a tooth brush or a jet of water
Brushing around the area on the affected tonsil may help with dislodging the tonsillolith. The brush should have soft bristles to prevent any damage to the back of the throat. Alternatively, the area can be gently irrigated by a stream of water while taking care not to be too rough. The physical force applied using either of these two methods can dislodge a stuck tonsil stone.
Using your finger or a Q-tip
Using your finger to dislodge the object might be another good alternative for a toothbrush if the latter proves uncomfortable. A wet Q-tip may also be used to dislodge the tonsil stone by gently brushing the affected area of the tonsil. The basic idea is to apply the smallest amount of force that will push the object away.
Using swallowing exercises
If inserting objects inside your mouth proves uncomfortable for you, swallowing exercise might just help remove the tonsil stone. These exercises consist of intervals of hard swallowing and tongue thrashing to help remove the tonsil stones. Hard swallowing may consist of constricting your throat when swallowing very hard with the tongue on the roof of the mouth. In between the hard swallowing, you can thrash your tongue and try to reach the tonsil stones. This alone method will work for most cases of tonsil stones.
Having minor surgery to remove the tonsil stone
When any home-based remedies cannot remove the tonsil stones, a visit to the ENT should be the next option especially when the tonsil stones interfere with your everyday life. The procedure can be done in the physician’s office normally under general anesthesia. The ENT will scrap off the tonsil stone from the tonsil, with the procedure taking a couple of minutes to complete.
Using laser or coblation cryptolysis
In laser cryptolysis, the tonsil stones are removed using a laser beam targeted at crypts that house the tonsil stones. Coblation cryptolysis also reduces the crypts but is more comfortable that the laser beam which gives a burning sensation. In coblation cryptolysis, charged ions are washed through the tonsil tissue and reduce the crypts within the tissue.
Removal of the tonsil
When all else fails, the only true solutions known to fully treat tonsil stones is through a tonsillectomy. However, this is normally a last resort solution because, in addition to the high probability of a painful recovery, the risk factor for this surgery is high when there are other pre-existing conditions. Before resorting to this or any other medical option, it is wise to consult your doctor and try other options before making a final decision.