Why is My Tonsil Stone Black?

February 14, 2024

Tonsil stones are small, hard lumps that form in crevices on the surface of the tonsils. They are typically white or yellow, but sometimes they can be black. They can be painful and are often the cause of bad breath. Most people can dislodge them with a cotton swab or by gargling.

Your tonsils are gland-like structures at the back of your throat. They are meant to act like nets, trapping bacteria and viruses before they can enter your body through the nose or mouth. They also contain lymphocytes, cells that fight infection. Sometimes, debris, including dead lymphocytes, can get trapped in the nooks and crannies of your tonsils. This debris can bond together over time, forming tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones.

Symptoms of tonsil stones include bad breath, a metallic taste, pain or difficulty with swallowing, or the sensation that something is stuck in the throat. Often, though, symptoms are mild or go away on their own.

Many people find that the simple step of gargling with apple cider vinegar helps to break down tonsil stones and makes them easier to remove. This can be done before brushing teeth and after a meal. Rinsing with water or mouthwash that doesn’t have alcohol is also helpful. You can also try using a toothpick to dislodge the stones, but this is usually not recommended as it can damage tonsil tissue and cause bleeding. If you have severe or recurring tonsil stone symptoms, your health care provider may recommend surgical removal of the tonsils.

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