If you've seen the tonsil stone videos on YouTube, then you know tonsil stone viewing is both horrifying and fascinating. And, many viewers might be wondering if they too have these stones that look like little yellow teeth. If you do have them, can you remove tonsil stones yourself? Like most everything these days, there's a YouTube video for that. If you've somehow missed the tonsil stone memo because you were too busy watching pimple popping videos, here's the quick and dirty on this disturbing phenomenon that's sweeping the internet.
First, if you're eating, you might want to stop before you continue reading. Trust me; it's for your own good. Second, let's clear one thing up. Anyone who still has their tonsils can get tonsil stones. So if you do have them there is nothing wrong with you. And, I will admit to even digging around in my own mouth to search for tonsil stones after learning about them last week — I didn't find any. Basically, tonsil stones 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.
There is an old commercial for a mucous medication that shows myriad mucous cells having a dance party in your lungs. This is what tonsil stones do, but instead of hanging around inside your chest they're much lazier. They burrow in the pink folds of your tonsils like bears hibernating for the winter. OK, before we move on, let's all say ewwwww together. Now that you're sufficiently grossed out, here's how to remove tonsil stones at home.
How To Remove Your Own Tonsil Stones
Wondering how to remove these gnarly mouth boogers from your tonsils? First, get a flashlight and mirror to check and see if you have any visible tonsil stones. If you don't know where your tonsils are or what they look like, you're not alone. I actually had to Google "what do tonsils look like" because I have spent zero time in my life thinking about tonsils. Your tonsils, according to the Mayo Clinic, are two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of your throat. You have one on each side.
Because of your built-in gag reflex, trying to remove them with your tongue is easiest. “You might cough and feel something hard in the back of your throat or on your tongue,” according to Utah’s Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic’s website. “Spitting it out will reveal a small tonsil stone.” You can also gargle with salt water to try to dislodge the stones. If you're not having any luck using your tongue, you can try a toothbrush.
"Gently press them out with a cotton swab or the back of your toothbrush,” Allina Health’s website says. “Your tonsils are delicate, and you could cause bleeding or damage if you try to remove tonsil stones too aggressively.” Basically, if you've always wanted to pretend to be your own dentist, this is your chance.
You can also use a cotton swab and your finger, which might be difficult for people with a sensitive gag reflex. Use the swab to move the fleshy tonsil tissue to locate the stones, push up to dislodge them, and finally scrape them away from the tonsil tissue. “Wet the end of the q-tip (makes it more sticky to the stone) and press against the bottom of the stone trying to pop them out of place,” Innovation Drive Dental’s website recommends.
If swabbing doesn't work, you can try a water pick, which is an oral hygiene tool that shoots a strong stream of water into your mouth. Aim if at your tonsils to help dislodge those creepy little critters.
If your tonsil stones are stubborn AF, tonsil stones are so prevalent that you can actually buy a tonsil stone removal kit, which can really up your dentist role playing game.
However, if you're not actually a dentist or a doctor, and you are unable to remove them yourself using any of these methods, see an ear, nose, and throat specialist who can remove the tonsil stones for you. If you get tonsil stones on the regular, having your tonsils taken out is another option, in which case you'll never have to worry about tonsil stones again. There is no home kit for this — you'll have to get surgery from a professional doctor. But, part of the recovery is eating lots of ice cream — there's always a silver lining.