Does Your Child Have Tonsil Stones? How A Dentist Can Help

If your child has been complaining of a sore throat and difficulty swallowing, or if you have noticed that they have bad breath, you may want to check for tonsil stones.

Tonsil stones are small whitish yellow lumps of bacteria and mucus that have hardened. If you shine a flashlight in your child's mouth, you may be able to see them stuck in the tonsils' crevices. Read on to learn more about tonsil stones and how to get rid of them:

What causes the stones?

Tonsil stones develop over time when minute particles of food stick to the tonsils. If these particles aren't removed, they can attract bacteria. More and more particles and bacteria can adhere and eventually you are left with a tonsil stone.

If your child has poor oral hygiene, then he or she has a higher risk of developing a tonsil stone.

If your child had a serious sinus infection, he or she might also be at risk for tonsil stones. After a sinus infection, the tonsils sometimes swell, then wrinkle. If they wrinkle, then folds, or crypts, form in the tonsils, making it easier for food and bacteria to become trapped.

Lastly, if your child gets sick a lot and has post-nasal drip, then the mucus can sometimes build up and feed bacteria that cause the stones.

Can you prevent them from forming?

Yes! If you help your child improve his or her oral hygiene, then the tonsil stones may no longer be an issue. Regular dental cleanings can also help your child maintain normal flora in the oral cavity.

If you are unsure whether your child has tonsil stones, your dentist can tell you when he or she performs an oral screening at your child's annual check-up. If your child doesn't see a dentist regularly, it's imperative that you start. Your child could be at risk for more than tonsil stones!

Along with seeing a dentist, you can also prevent tonsil stones by adjusting your child's diet. You can encourage them to eat foods with probiotics, like yogurt or pickles. Limiting red meat and starchy foods can also help.

Have your child tested for allergies as well. An allergic reaction could irritate their nasal passage and cause excess mucus.

Children who exercise regularly may reduce their tonsil stones since exercise encourages lymph flow in the tonsils' lymph nodes.

Can you remove the tonsil stones for your child?

If your child is patient enough to let you, you may use a q-tip to gently wipe the tonsils. But because the tonsils are sensitive and your child may gag, this can be difficult.

An easier way to remove loose tonsil stones is to have your child cough into a napkin. If the stones aren't coming out with these options, it's time to see a dentist.

How can a dentist remove the tonsil stones?

Dentists can use oral irrigators to break up and loosen the tonsil stones. Your dentist can also prescribe a good mouthwash that could prevent the stones—and bad breath—from occurring.

If the tonsils have become infected because of the stones, then your dentist can clean them out carefully and prescribe antibiotics.

Surgery is often the last resort, but it can be considered if the stones keep coming back and causing infection or eating difficulties. Surgery is the last option because the tonsils play an important role in defending the body against gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. You can talk with a dental office like Persona  Dental for more information if you think your child may need surgery.