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, according to WebMD.
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
WikiHow has step-by-step instructions for how to remove these gnarly mouth boogers from your tonsils. 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 gaga reflex, trying to remove them with your tongue is easiest. "Press on your tonsils and try to break up the stones or push them free. Working the back of your mouth by swallowing hard can also help to loosen the stones," WikiHow instructed. "Try coughing to loosen and release the stones." 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.
"Use the brush side and the flat side to lift the tonsil tissue to find the calcification deposits. The brush side can help to dislodge the stones from the tissue," WikiHow reported. "Pull your tongue out and say 'aaahh' for a better view." 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.
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, Live Science recommended seeing an ear, nose, and throat specialist who can remove the tonsil stones for you. If you're embarrassed about having tonsil stones, take comfort in the fact that at least your name is not Noodle, like the patient in the above video.
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.