What Causes Tonsil Stones? If You Still Have Tonsils, You Basically Can’t Avoid Getting Them

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Tonsil stone videos are the new must-see TV for people who have become desensitized to pimple popping videos, which now seem tame — and not at all gross — in comparison to tonsil stones. But the new popularity of these videos means many people are discovering for the first time what tonsil stones are, leading some to wonder what actually causes tonsil stones (in order to avoid them like the literal plague). Sorry, kids, but if you still have your tonsils, there's basically no way to avoid these foul demons.

As the go-to spot to find camaraderie for all of your weirdness, YouTube brings everyone's darkest secret desires to the surface, including people's obsession with these stones. Without the magic of YouTube, I would have never heard of tonsil stones, and after you read this you might wish you hadn't, either. But, if you're one of those people who goes down a rabbit hole watching weird medical documentaries that involve things like parasitic twins or brain-eating amoebas, then tonsil stones are definitely your jam. If you're a hypochondriac or otherwise afraid of the grossness that is the human body, then you might want to stop reading right now.

While people who love to watch pimple popping videos often like to pop other people's pimples for fun, I doubt anyone is going to be in a hurry to remove your gross tonsil stones. And, let's be honest, tonsil stones sound totally made up, like something you might hear about in a sci-fi movie. But, unfortunately, they are as real as doughnut salad and global warming, and if you have them I'd like to offer you my deepest sympathies.

Why Are Tonsil Stones So Gross?

Gross Science on YouTube

If your gag reflex won't allow you to watch tonsil stone videos, allow me to paint you a picture instead. Imagine a teratoma, which is a parasitic twin that often contains tiny teeth and hair and can grow undetected in your body for years and years. Now imagine having that hanging around in your mouth. Before you freak out, tonsil stones are not a teratoma, but they look like little yellow teeth growing out of your tonsils, sort of like you're growing another set of scattered teeth in the back of your throat.

Tonsil stones, it turns out, are just trapped dead cells and mucous that hang out in the nooks and crannies of your tonsils and harden into yellowish stones known as tonsilloliths, according to WebMD. I just keep reading it as tonsil sloths, and because these lazy lumps just lie around in your mouth — sloth seems pretty freakin' appropriate.

If the image of extra teeth growing in your mouth is not enough to freak you out, how about this: Tonsil stones are not just stones. They are living biofilm, according to a study by the Center for Genomic Science at the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute. Yes, you read that right — tonsil stones are freakin' alive. In your mouth. I'm no doctor, but this pretty much sounds like the definition of a parasitic twin. The good news is that unlike teratomas, tonsil stones don't grow hair, so at least there's that.

How do you know if you have these uninvited guests that have decided to have a party in your tonsils? According to WebMD, symptoms include exceedingly bad breath — the kind that stops traffic, sore throat, white debris (that looks like teeth!), difficulty swallowing, ear pain, and tonsil swelling.

How To Remove Your Gross Tonsil Stones

FunFormator on YouTube

While they often resolve on their own by popping out of your tonsils themselves, you can also remove your tonsil stones at home with a water pick or by gargling salt water. If that doesn't work, and your tonsil stones are of the extra large variety, you can get them surgically removed (and maybe get a video of it at the same time).

If you think you have tonsil stones, and you don't want to stick your hand in your mouth, or you don't want to go to the doctor, we have bad news for you; there's really not much you can do to make them go away forever, short of getting your tonsils removed. You're probably going to want to find a way to get them out of your mouth, though, for the sake of people around you. Why? After you read this tonsil stone removal experience from Reddit user chefjessphd, everything will become crystal clear.

Let's be clear that there is no reason to be ashamed of your tonsil stones. If YouTube is any indication — and we've already established that it is — you are most definitely not alone. However, it's still in your best interest to remove them, not only for your own comfort, but for the good of all of humankind.