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Tonsil stones becoming more common

Posted at 2:11 PM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 16:48:05-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —  Have you ever heard of tonsil stones? Well, they're more common than you may think.

Kylee Angell said she was sitting with her daughters and felt like she had a scratchy throat.

“I took the flashlight on my phone and looked in the mirror and saw it,” Angell said. “So Thursday night I felt one, and I posted it on my moms Facebook group and within 10 minutes, I had hundreds of comments of tonsil stones and how to get them out and what they were.”

Doctors say they're soft lumps of debris that form in the crevices of the tonsils.

“What happens over time is in those little dips and crevices of the sponge, we get food caught or mucus caught. It gets kind of gets overrun by bacteria that's naturally in our throat and it becomes a hard little ball,” Dr. Natasha Burgert said. “It's essentially their body's natural way of protect and defend us and it's just a natural consequence of that.”

Dr. Burgert said tonsil stones are a natural consequence of the body trying to protect and defend itself.

The stones are becoming more common as more people aren't getting their tonsils removed. They are harmless, but can be very odorous.

“People just get creeped out that it's a puss pocket. They think their kid has strep throat because they see some white stuff that can be a mimicker of illness, but the good news is they're relatively harmless and perfectly safe,” Burgert said. “They're very odorous. They're full of bacteria and it takes a while for them to mineralize.”

Several online clinics say you can take them out yourself, but Dr. Burgert doesn’t recommend you do this.

“Don't try and pop it,” Dr. Burgert said. “Your tonsil has a lot of vascularity a lot of blood flow and it's an important tissue to have back there and so if you are trying to dig around back there, you can make a mistake and maybe cause some injury.

She recommended brushing and gargling regularly with mouthwash to flesh out the stones.