This month’s blog deals with the common and often embarrassing problem of tonsil stones. Tonsils stones (or tonsilliths) are small clumps of whitish, odorous debris that collect in the surface crevices (crypts) of the tonsils. Many people think they are food particles, but they are primarily made up of shedded epithelium. The epithelium or surface lining of the tonsil will shed, much like skin sheds, and collect in the crypts of the tonsils. This epithelial debris may then mix with bacteria, resulting in a low grade sore throat and/or chronic bad breath. When the tonsilliths fill the crypt they may be coughed out or sometimes removed with pressure from a Qtip or the patient’s finger. After removal, they will generally recollect within weeks to months. They can be extremely annoying but are not dangerous, so if they are noticed infrequently and are only mildly symptomatic, they do not require treatment. However, for some patients, tonsilliths can be a weekly or even daily annoyance, and these patie ...

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