This might sound a little gross, but have you ever found yourself picking a hard, yellowish, gravel-sized, globule off your tonsil – or maybe coughed one up? If you have, you’re not alone. They’re called Tonsilloliths or tonsil stones, and according to the New York Times, about 6% of the population gets them. The majority of people that do, have no idea what they are! They don’t even know there’s a name for those little rocks they dig out of their tonsils every few weeks. Even doctors are stumped. They tell most people that the tonsil stone is just what’s left of last night’s dinner!
So what is it really? Your tonsils are covered in all these little nooks and crannies, that can get filled with dead cells, mucus and food debris. Once all that gunk is in there, bacteria get to work on it and basically compress everything into a hard, chalky, mass. This is the tonsil stone. Now, most of the time these stones are pretty small, but they can grow to more than an inch wide! They aren’t just annoying, they can ruin your social life too. About 75% of people who get tonsilloliths also have severe bad breath. This happens because the bacteria that turns the gunk into tonsil stones cause a nasty odor.
So how do you get rid of them? Doctors say first, try gargling with mouthwash a couple times a day to make sure that none of that bacteria builds up. Then, they say, use a waterpik to blast the things out of your tonsils. Try that for a month and see how it goes. If nothing changes there is one more thing you can do, and that’s get a tonsillectomy. Surgically removing your tonsils completely is the only way to get rid of tonsilloliths for good. However, most doctors think you should try less drastic measures first.