Tonsil Stones - what is the best way to remove them?

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Tonsil Stones - what is the best way to remove them?

Postby Dwayne » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:31 am

Hello. I found your site when searching for information about chronic sore throats and I appreciate the information you provided. I recently went through a similar bout of frequent sore throats, one after the other, that just didn't seem like they were ever going to stop. Fortunately, I've been without a sore throat for the past two weeks, so maybe I'm finally getting over these.

However, during these bouts of sore throats, I developed a new problem that I didn't even know existed - tonsil stones. They are these tiny hard white balls that collect in my tonsils. I first noticed one when I felt like something was stuck in my throat, thinking maybe a piece of rice or popcorn, or something like that. I looked online for information on what could be causing it to feel like something is stuck in my throat, almost scratchy at times, and I came across tonsil stones. I didn't think that is what I had, but I watched a few of the videos on YouTube of people removing them with all sorts of odd devices and then took a look in my own throat.

It is not easy to look in your own throat. I used my wife's makeup mirror, and found the non-magnified side worked best for me. I use my cell phone's flashlight to get a look back there. Sure enough, I saw a tiny white speck on one of my tonsils. Reading a few articles, you see all sorts of suggestions on how to remove them. It seemed the safest was to use a wet q-tip, but that was not that easy. I found that once I pulled back the flap of skin (?) that was on the tonsil with the speck on it, the speck was actually just the tip of a much larger tonsil stone. I'm not sure if I just broke up the stone or if I really got most of it out, but there were several small stones in each tonsil.

I read that people have used all sorts of different things to try to get them out, with most saying that a little dental irrigation syringe with a curved tip worked best. It is called the Monoject #412, which is a 12 cc (12 ml) syringe, with the tip curved to a point. I ordered a few for cheap off of ebay and was excited to give it a try. I found that the tip sometimes scratches my tonsils (no bleeding though), and if I put the tip into one of the crevices or crypts in my tonsils, I sometimes can't squeeze the syringe, I'm assuming because the tip is pushed up against the tonsil. I have no idea if I can put too much pressure in one of the crypts, if I may damage the tonsil.

I now start to notice one returning when I either can feel something stuck in the back of my throat, or I get a bad metallic taste in my mouth. I get worried that my breath smells horrible when I have that taste, since tonsil stones smell absolutely horrible. I don't think I have ever smelled anything quite like them. One day I was at work and started to get that taste in my mouth. I tried pushing on the side of my tonsils with my finger but nothing happened. I was desperate so I took a small paperclip and bent the tip into a loop. I used the bathroom mirror and my phone flash light and was able to get one out quite easily. I'm not excited about having pushed a paperclip into a hole in my tonsils thought.

Does anyone know why I would suddenly be getting these, and if there is actually a good way to get them out? For me, q-tip works some, paperclip loop worked better, Monject 412 dental syringe worked so-so, and finger didn't really seem to do anything.

I'm tempted to see an earn nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) to see if they can identify why I'm getting them and what the best way is to remove them. Hopefully he won't say I need to come to his office every few weeks so he can extract out the stones. I also hope he doesn't suggest removing my tonsils.

Any ideas?

Re: Tonsil Stones - what is the best way to remove them?

Postby Dwayne » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:34 am

At my annual physical exam, I mentioned the tonsil stones to my internist. He said he gets them a few times a year, but he said it would be worth seeing an ear nose and throat doctor (ENT) to see what he/she says. I went ahead and made an appointment.

It was a little disappointing as the ENT doc said there really isn't anything to do other than keep popping them out ad they show up. He said the only way to stop them would be a tonsillectomy, but he said that is a big deal to do in an adult. He also said insurance often considers it non-essential surgery, so may not cover it. I'd ask the insurance companies to have to sit with a stinky tonsil stone near them and see how non-essential they think it is then. He did say that in my case, because of the recurrent sore throat, that insurance could be more likely to cover it.

Also, I didn't mention in my first post, but I am on immunosuppressive medications, anti-TNF Humira and immunosuppressive azothiaprine (Imuran). He said being immunosuppressive shouldn't contribute to tonsil stones. He said he has had people with recurrent sore throats from immunosuppressive therapy have their tonsils removed. He decided to do a throat culture just to make sure I don't have an ongoing infection. It is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but the culture grew out non group A strep. It isn't the usual bacteria that causes strep throat, but he said with my immunosuppressed status, I should treat the infection. I'm taking a week course of Augmentin.

He said studies of antibiotics for tonsil stones showed no benefit to antibiotics for stones.

As to his suggested way of removing them, he said a waterpik is what he suggests. He then said I could use anything that works as long as it isn't sharp.

Reading up more, it seems people have mixed comments on waterpiks. High pressure can hurt the tonsils, and low pressure doesn't seem to move the stone.

I've practiced more with the Monoject syringe and that does seem to work best right now. I just have to get it positioned correctly and then apply decent pressure to wash out whatever is there.

I haven't found anything better yet, but I admit, I haven't tried a Waterpik yet.

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