Tonsils are two round lumps located at the back of the throat. They can be seen when you open your mouth wide and look in the mirror. The tonsils act as defense mechanisms by preventing germs from entering the respiratory and digestive systems through the mouth. Tonsils are the first line defense against complications because they have the ability to produce white blood cells. The tonsils therefore fight against the infestation of bacteria and viruses that enter the body through the mouth.
Though they act as defense mechanisms, they are vulnerable to infection from these bacteria and viruses. When these tonsils become infected, they lead to a condition called Tonsillitis (tonsil stones). The illness can occur at any age but it is common in children.
What Causes Tonsil Stones
Generally, tonsil stones are as a result of a virus that causes cold or bacteria that causes strep throat. Other causes include:
- Debris from eaten food. During the process of chewing food, food is usually broken into small debris that can be swallowed. Not all these pieces will be swallowed because some will remain in between the teeth. Over time, this debris calcifies and sticks to the surface of your tonsils. These remnants are not completely melted by saliva and therefore end up being stored in the tonsil pockets. This leads to tonsillitis. When the accumulation continues, the tonsil pockets become bigger and may even burst.
- Mucous may also cause tonsillitis. In this case, the mucous membranes get infected with some micro-organisms called haemolytic streptococci or some viruses. The micro-organisms in turn affect get into contact with the mucous. The saliva in the mouth may contain the infected mucous which in turn leads to the tonsil stones. When not treated immediately, the micro-organisms will spread to the nose and ears.
- They are also caused by dead blood cells. The tonsils have the ability to produce the white blood cells. The cells may wear out and therefore die. These dead cells will end up accumulating on the tongue’s back and on the folds of the tonsils. Poor oral hygiene like not brushing your teeth on a regular basis might lead to the overproduction of the dead cells. This will lead to the illness.
So other than that- What causes tonsil stones?
The pockets of the tonsils are known as crypts. The crypts have a hollow shape. These pockets get filled with particles in the mouth. These are things like: Food debris, mucous and the dead blood-cells. The particles are then deposited in the pockets which contain a fluid called the lymph fluid. The fluid carries any particles deposited in the tonsil pockets. The tonsil being a lymph nodes, it will act as a filter. It will then filter the bacteria and any unwanted material. Once these have been filtered, these materials are stored in the tonsil crevasses. They then clump together causing the tonsils to swell. Continuous accumulation leads to tonsil stones.
Some of the symptoms of the illness include: a sore throat, a swollen and painful tonsil, ear aches, stomach aches, headaches, stiff and painful neck, difficulty and pain in swallowing, bad breath and fever.
Did you know that prevention is better than cure? With that in mind, experts advise everybody to prevent this complication so that they do not end up spending a lot of money to cure it. Some of the ways to prevent this illness include:
- Always rinse your mouth with a mouthwash. If you do not have this product, you can use lukewarm water that contains salt. This should be done after every meal so as to prevent any bacteria that is found in food from accumulating in the pockets of the tonsils. The water washes away the bacteria therefore alleviating any bad breath.
- Good oral hygiene plays an important role in preventing this condition as well. This means that you ought to brush your teeth regularly, avoid consuming too many dairy products and avoid having your meals thirty minutes before going to sleep.
In conclusion, if you do not know the causes of tonsillitis, it will be very difficult for you to know the effective ways of treating the illness. Therefore, understanding its causes is a beneficial decision to you. If you do not treat them during the early stages, they become very large in size making you very uncomfortable and feeling irritated. They end up causing bad odor from the mouth.