Noticing white spots on tonsils can be quite frightening and it is no wonder that people panic when they first see them. However, they are not dangerous or life-threatening, and they can be easily removed.
What are white spots on tonsils
Those white spots are actually called tonsil stones or tonsilloliths. Human tonsils are not perfectly smooth, they have small indentations that are called crypts. Sometimes, mucus, bacteria and food particles get stuck inside the crypts and are then covered by mucosa. Eventually this mass hardens, or calcifies to be precise, and it results in tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones may or may not cause symptoms. Sometimes, if they are protruding, they can feel as a foreign object stuck in the back of the throat. White spots on tonsils in most cases smell very bad and cause foul breath. Other symptoms include redness and swelling of the tonsils, difficulty swallowing, cough fits and sore throat.
Causes of white spots on tonsils
Like mentioned above, white spots or tonsil stones are caused by a combination of mucus, food particles and bacteria stuck inside tonsil crypts. However, white or yellowish patches on tonsils may be a sign of strep throat infection, which requires medical attention and probably a treatment with a course of antibiotics.
Other reasons may include poor oral hygiene, poor eating habits and also smoking cigarettes without filters.
Treatment for white spots on tonsils
Tonsil stones are often misdiagnosed. Some doctors prescribe antibiotics, and sometimes they even schedule a tonsillectomy, which is a surgery for removing the tonsils. However, this is not necessary since tonsil stones can be removed quite easily.
Some people try to remove them using their fingers. This is not recommended. Not only it may cause damage to the tonsils, but, it is also unhygienic and it may lead to infections. In addition, touching white spots on tonsils and squeezing them like a pimple will break them and they will release an intense foul smell that lingers in mouth for a long time.
When trying to remove white spots on tonsils at home, it is best to use a wet ear bud.
Tonsil stones can go away on their own, and sometimes coughing helps to expel them. When a tonsil stone is big and embedded deeply into a tonsil, it may be a good idea to see a dentist who can take it out using proper instruments.
Gargling with salt water can help dissolve white spots on tonsils, and it is also an effective means of prevention against this problem.