Tonsil Stones: A Collection of Substances That Harden in Your Mouth

tonsil

Story at-a-glance -

  • Tonsils are small lumps of tissue found on each side of the back of your throat. Their primary role is to help protect your digestive system against bacteria and viruses that can cause infections
  • Tonsil stones can produce a variety of symptoms, most notably bad breath. There’s also a chance that your tonsils may become swollen and infected due to the overwhelming presence of bacteria and decaying food scraps

The human mouth is composed of various organs that work together to taste and break down food into smaller pieces before it goes to the stomach. But what about the tonsils? You may have heard of them due to a friend or relative who needed to have their tonsils removed before. What are they exactly and what’s their purpose?

The Role of Your Tonsils for Your Health

Tonsils are small lumps of tissue found on each side of the back of your throat. Their primary role is to help protect your digestive system against bacteria and viruses that can cause infections. To do this, your tonsils have a network of crypts (or pits) that are filled with white blood cells and antibodies.1

But your tonsils may actually be a double-edged sword. While they serve a very clear and beneficial role, they’re also a weakness because they’re prone to infection and blockage. Calcium, bacteria, food particles and dead cells can become lodged in the crypts. As time goes by, these substances accumulate and harden, turning into “stones.”

Tonsil stones can produce a variety of symptoms, most notably bad breath. There’s also a chance that your tonsils may become swollen and infected due to the overwhelming presence of bacteria and decaying food scraps.2

What Are Tonsil Stones Made Of?

There are five different substances that make up the stones:3

Bacteria

Bacteria are one of the most common causes of tonsil stones and, to an extent, tonsillitis. Your immune system attacks them, which leaves hardened residues that accumulate over time. Furthermore, they cause bad breath by feeding on food particles.

Dead Cells

Your mouth constantly sheds dead cells to keep itself healthy, which can end up in your tonsil crypts. These can pile up as well.

Food Particles

Depending on the ingredients of your food, small scraps can end up in your crypts, which can interact with the bacteria and dead cells to form stones.

Calcium

This mineral is a major contributor to the solidifying process. When a certain amount of it becomes trapped in the tonsils, stones slowly begin to harden or calcify.

Mucus

Mucus can gather at the back of your throat due to nasal drips, or whenever your nose becomes runny. When this happens, small amounts of mucus gather in the crypts.

Tonsillitis May Also Occur

Alongside stones, you may also develop tonsillitis, a condition marked by swollen tonsils. This usually happens when bacteria or viruses infect the tonsils, and your immune system triggers inflammation to ward them off.4 Other symptoms of this condition include:5

Sore throat

Difficulty swallowing

Fever

Muffled voice

Headache

If you detect stones or develop swollen tonsils, have yourself diagnosed by a doctor immediately to help prevent further damage to your mouth.

MORE ABOUT TONSIL STONES

Tonsil Stones: Introduction

What Are Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil Stones Symptoms

Tonsil Stones Causes

Tonsil Stones Treatment

How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones

Tonsil Stones Removal

Tonsil Stones Prevention

Tonsil Stones FAQ

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