How to get tonsil stones out

Can you use a waterpik for tonsil stones?

The short answer is YES, you can use a Waterpik water flosser to help treat tonsil stones.

My recommendation is to try the Waterpik WP-660 Aqaurius, which we have reviewed here.

However, there is more to consider here, so read on to better understand how you can make use of oral irrigators like Waterpik to help with this condition.

What are the symptoms of tonsil stones?

It is quite common not to actually show any symptoms, but typical symptoms of tonsil stones are:

  • Bad breath
    • One of the primary indicators of tonsil stones.  Regular tooth and tongue cleaning is not helping the situation.
  • Sore throat
    • With a clear link between tonsillitis and tonsil stones, the 2 often occur at the same time.  This therefore makes it difficult to determine whether the pain in your throat is caused by your infection or the tonsil stone.
  • Discomfort when swallowing
    • Depending on the size and location of the stone, you might feel like something is obstructing your throat and giving you difficulty in swallowing.
  • Swelling
    • The tonsils can become swollen through infection in some cases as the stone forms.
  • Ear pain
    • Despite the stone being in the throat and not the ear, the link in nervous pathways can mean that pain is felt in the ear if a stone is touching or blocking certain nerves.
  • White lumps
    • If you are taking a good look at the back of your mouth and see some White spots or lumps that look unusual, this could be a tonsil stone.  Not always visible, they can be small and hidden in crypts out of your line of sight.

Are tonsil stones harmful?

No.

Tonsil stones are not generally harmful and rarely cause any real problems.

For the vast majority, they are small, just a couple of millimeters.  This means they are often swallowed without really realising or easily removed.

Photo of extracted tonsil stones

It is possible that being too aggressive with the removal of the stones can cause tearing or damage to the tonsils which in turn leads to infection.

Some will experience larger numbers of stones and more discomfort and may opt for surgical procedures.

A 2018 report from King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences in Saudi Arabia detailed one of the largest recorded stones measuring 3.1 x 2.1 cm.

Bad breath & tonsil stones

A tonsil stone is a build up of organic matter.

As they grow, bacteria feeds and breads on them, the consequence of which is a sulfurous odor.

It is this that causes the bad breath.

Bad breath is often one of the first indicators of tonsil stones.

To limit the chances of bad breath, you should:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time
  • Floss once a day
  • Brush your tongue and inside cheeks
  • Drink water after a meal to wash away food and bacteria
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In between times, long lasting mouthwashes like TheraBreath can reduce the impact of the bad breath.

Dr Katz is a leading specialist in this field and is all too aware of how the sulphur given off by those suffering with tonsil stones can cause bad breath.

He and his company have developed 2 core products to help you tackle the problem.

Tonsil Stones Treatment Kit

Containing the basic products Dr Katz believes you need, the aim here is to dissolve the tonsil stones.

AktivOxigen serum attacks the bacteria that lead to tonsil stones whilst Nasal/sinus drops cleanse your sinuses.

A throat spray reaches the difficult to access areas of your throat and a mouth wetting lozenges attack bacteria, stimulate cleansing salivation and freshen your breath on the go.

Tonsil Stones Deluxe Kit

Taking the tonsil stone game to the next level, this kit includes

  • 2 x TheraBreath Oral Rinse
  • 1 x TheraBreath Toothpaste
  • 3 x TheraBreath Fresh Breath Throat Spray
  • 2 x AktivOxigen Serum
  • 3 x TheraBreath Nasal-Sinus Drops
  • 1 x TheraBreath Dry Mouth Lozenges (24pc)

How are they treated?

You might think that surgical or medical treatment is required to help deal with tonsil stones, but more often than not, this is not necessary.

As the stones are considered harmless and occur naturally, advice is where possible, to treat them with a number of different ‘at home’ treatments.

These do it yourself treatments are less invasive and often take just a few minutes to perform.  I will explain some of these procedures shortly.

Although you can go to a doctor to have the stones removed, their approach in the first instance is normally no different to how you would do it at home. The only difference is they are a trained medical professional.

Antibiotics can be used, but this is not always an appropriate treatment for all.

If the tonsil stones are particularly frequent, large or causing a lot of discomfort, surgery is possible, but is usually the last resort.

It is best to speak to your doctor or an ear, nose and throat specialist for their assessment and advice.

Should surgery be the best option for you, the normal procedures are:

  • Laser Tonsil Cryptolosis – A laser is used to eliminate the crypts where stones form, smoothing the surface of the tonsil.
  • Coblation Cryptolysis – Like the laser, charged ions are used instead to eliminate these crypts.
  • Tonsillectomy – The most invasive procedure which removes the tonsils and is the only way to ‘cure’ tonsil stones.

What is the cure & how can you stop tonsil stones? 

Aside from tonsil removal, there is no way to guarantee the removal of or cure tonsil stones.

Various treatments including antibiotics may reduce or stop them for periods of time, but they can come back.

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Some will suffer it for a year, others for many years.

As our bodies change we can essentially develop and stop developing tonsil stones.

How can a Waterpik oral irrigator help with tonsil stones?

As I mentioned above, Waterpik is one brand within the oral irrigator/water flosser market.

The market leader, Waterpik are synonymous with oral irrigators, so the name is often used interchangeably.

Irrigators are designed for interdental cleaning, removing plaque and debris found in between teeth and along the gumline.

However, the way in which they work, their availability and effectiveness make them great for tonsil stone removal.

Each product has their own pros and cons.  You might like to read our article titled ‘Best Water Flosser’ to find out more about flossers, but my top picks are listed below.

How each of these work is that they use an electrical power source to drive water that is stored within a reservoir on the unit, at pressure out through a nozzle or tip.

The pressure at which the water is pushed out can be powerful enough to dislodge and lift out the tonsil stones you are suffering with.

Many water flossers offer adjustable rotation on the tips as well as variable pressure settings.

This allows for you to gradually increase the water pressure and adjust the angle of the water stream to more effectively remove the stone.

Adjusting the pressure from low to high gradually also avoids doing unnecessary damage.

The use of a water flosser can too help reduce the potential gagging feeling that comes with placing an object to the back of the throat to pop out a stone.

Water flossers are available as countertop of cordless options.

My general recommendation would be to opt for the countertop units as these have larger reservoirs and allow for a longer running time than cordless options.

There is no tried, tested and completely successful route to remove tonsil stones with a water flosser.  Their size, shape, position and accessibility can all have a bearing.

However, the following steps should help you achieve some of the best results.

Assuming you have purchased an oral irrigator:

  1. Try and setup a light and mirror so that you can see your tonsils and the stones you wish to remove as clearly as possible.
  2. Fill the irrigator water tank with lukewarm water.  You could add 1-2 teaspoons of salt if you like, but generally it is not recommended as it could affect the water flosser. Avoid using cold water as it is harsher and sharper on the softer tonsil tissue.
  3. Put the nozzle of the flosser into the mouth and aim it towards your tonsils.  Power the flosser on, making sure the pressure is set to low before doing so.
  4. Begin cleaning your tonsils by moving the jet of water up down and around the affected area.
  5. Continue to do this for 10-30 seconds as the warm water will help loosen the bacteria in the crypts and the first stones should be lifted out.
  6. Gradually increase the power/pressure of the flosser to help loosen those stones that have not already come out.
  7. You may need to refill the tank and repeat the process a couple of times to clear them all.
  8. Once the tonsil stones have been removed, gargle using a mouthwash to help cleanse and remove the remaining dirt and bacteria.
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I wish to make clear whilst an effective way to clear tonsil stones, it is not guaranteed to work.  Different people have different levels of success, but for most it is one of the most comfortable and effective ways to release them.

The power of the jet of water emitted from the nozzle and be powerful and cause damage and bleeding to the tonsils, always begin on the lowest pressure and gradually increase the pressure.

An oral irrigator is a device to help remove existing tonsil stones.

Using an irrigator is not a cure to tonsil stones.

Aside from tonsil removal, there is no way to completely get rid of them forever.

What Are Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones are hard white or yellow formations located within the tonsils. Tonsil stones can cause bad breath, a sore throat, and even trouble swallowing.

The tonsils are gland-like tissue in the back of each side of your mouth. They contain the lymph nodes that work as a part of your immune system, filtering out viruses and other harmful particles from entering your body and making you sick.

Typically, you swallow small particles of debris, like food, dead cells, and mucus. When this debris gets caught in the small pockets of your tonsils, tonsil stones can form. This happens more often in people who:

  • Regularly have inflammation of their tonsils
  • Have large tonsils
  • Have repeated tonsillitis

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Symptoms of Tonsil Stones

The symptoms of tonsil stones are often difficult to notice: Most of the time, these growths are small and cause no real symptoms at all. If you do discover a tonsil stone, it’s typically by accident.

Larger stones, however, can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • White spots on the tonsils
  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat, or a feeling of stones in your throat
  • Red or swollen tonsils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain, depending on whether the stone is pressing a nerve

Sometimes it’s tough to tell whether your symptoms are caused by a tonsil stone or by an infection: Tonsillitis can also cause pain when swallowing, swollen tonsils, and sore throat, for example.

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