Your dentist at Reston Serenity Smiles wants you to practice good dental hygiene for many reasons, including to avoid bad breath. We’re all familiar with the typical causes of bad breath: garlic-laden foods, raw onions, and smoking, among others. One cause that you may not know of, though, are tonsilliths – more commonly known as tonsil stones.
What are They?
We all have debris and bacteria our mouths. Microscopic pieces of food, post nasal drip, and residue from drinks are just some of the things that reside in our mouths. Your body’s immune system is trained to fight and instinctively goes after anything that doesn’t belong, including food debris and bacteria. If you don’t have tonsils, you’re in the clear; if you do have tonsils, foreign particles can get stuck in their tiny craters and crevices, alerting your white blood cells get to work and go on the attack. The result is a calcified, yellowish-white, “stone” that produces horrendous bad breath.
How Do I Know If I Have Them?
Some people are completely unaware that they have tonsil stones, as the stones can simply become dislodge then be swallowed. Those who aren’t so lucky have a few obvious symptoms. Sometimes, you can actually see the tonsil stones on your tonsils. The next time you brush your teeth, take a good look at the back of your mouth; if you see something whitish that stands out against the pink of your tonsils, it could be a tonsil stone. Some people feel like they have something stuck in their throats and repeatedly cough or clear their throats to find relief. Still another indicator is if you have an unpleasant taste in the back of your mouth and are prone to bad breath. If you are unsure, your Reston dentist or hygienist can tell you for certain when you visit for cleanings or treatments.
I Have Them. Now What?
For some people, removal is as simple as gargling with a little salt water to dislodge the stone. If the stone is visible and your hands are immaculately clean, you may be able to scrape it off with ease. If your tonsil stones are causing you discomfort and they don’t seem to come out naturally, a doctor can assist with removal. The best plan, however, is to avoid letting them form in the first place.
Can I Prevent Them?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent tonsil stones from ever forming – all of which involve practicing impeccable dental hygiene. Because they are caused by bacteria, the most important thing is to eliminate the bacteria in your mouth. Brush after every meal to avoid the accumulation of food particles. Floss daily to clean the plaque, food, and bacteria that settles between your teeth. The back of your tongue is a breeding ground for bacteria, so invest in a tongue scraper and use it daily. Finally, drink lots and lots of water to help flush out anything that could eventually turn into a tonsil stone.
If you are concerned that you may have tonsil stones or simply want to get to the root of your bad breath, contact Reston Serenity Smiles today. Dr. Kazemifar and her staff look forward to helping you achieve fresh breath and the smile that you’ve always wanted.