What exactly are tonsils?
The tonsils are a pair of soft tissues that lay at the two sides of the back of the throat. Belong to the lymphatic system, tonsils help fight infections, although it's not scientifically proven that the removal of tonsils leads to a higher chance of infection. The size and shape vary, depending on the person and where it's under infection.
Besides fighting infection, the tonsils also stop objects that are too big to swallow from entering the airways or into the lungs as a buffer zone and increases in size when something too big is entering through. The actual use of tonsils is constantly debated. Some say it's just a useless organ lost to evolution, while some say they do help us greatly when we need it.
What is with the foul smell?
You probably have tonsil stones.
Tonsil stones are formed when bacteria, food, dead cells are trapped in the tonsils for a period of time. Such debris turns hard, often appear in yellow-ish or white in color, and form a bad scent. Tonsil stones can be hard to see due to their location in the mouth. Sometimes, they can appear at the back of the throat also, while most tonsil stones appear on the tonsils themselves. If you suspect yourself of having tonsil stones, use cotton tips to widen your mouth and take a look for the hard, stone-like objects. Tonsil stones vary greatly in size and shape. There's no standard reference point for this, although they are always yellowish or white.
Aside from tonsil stones, the tonsils may smell bad due to an infection. In such cases, medical advice from an expert is your best choice if you don't see any tonsil stones but the nasty smell is still coming from there.
10 Quick Fixes for Smelly Tonsils
1. Brush your teeth
Definitely a no-brainer. The first solution you should go for. Some of the smaller, less noticeable tonsil stones can be brushed away if you brushed on it back and forth. Tonsil stones are often missed in regular brushing due to its back position in the throat. The spot is generally neglected, hence most people will likely to get tonsil stones at least a few times in their lifetime, just that sometimes the tonsil stones are so small and they don't notice their breath is smelling awful, and the stones just get brushed away before they further grow in size and the intensity in smell.
2. Gargling vigorously with salt water
Salt kills bacteria. Using saltwater on tonsil stones kill the bacteria on them, if not annihilating them. Mix some salt into a glass of hot water and then add in some cold water so the temperature is warm. Gargling as hard as you can with the saltwater. Most of the time this can successfully remove the tonsil stones in the process. Only some of the bigger tonsil stones may be hard to remove. Repeat this process a few times, or do it twice a day until you can remove them. Killing the bacteria on tonsils make the tonsil stones harder to stick and easy to come out.
3. Mint gum
It doesn't terminate your smelly tonsil problem but it will do you good for a short period of time when you need to get it fixed right before a date or a meeting etc. Mint gum freshen up your breath way better than other flavors, also partly due to mint's function in killing some bacteria.
Again, mint gum won't take out your tonsil smell for good. But for a short period of time, it will be your best friend when you are outside and don't have anything better with you.
4. Cotton swaps
Get two cotton swaps to put pressure on both sides of the tonsil stone until it pops. Popping tonsil stones are like popping blackhead or whitehead, just press on it and it will eventually pop. Don't use your fingers even if they can reach as the bacteria on your fingers may worsen the infection or give you something else in the process.
Popping tonsil stones are generally safe and the fastest way to get rid of tonsil stones. However, some tonsils stones may not be so easily popped out. You may combine other methods such as gargling saltwater and then use cotton swaps for better results.
Did you know that garlic is also highly effective in killing bacteria? Put a piece of garlic in your mouth and grind it towards the back of your throat where the tonsil stone is located. Bacteria on the tonsil stone will be killed off by the garlic and the little piece will act as a scrub to get the tonsil stone off.
Some people may find garlic to be too spicy or too strong to have on its own, you may grind it and put it together with some salt. Both will act as a scrub and kill off the bacteria efficiently. Do NOT mix it with sugar as sugar provides an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow faster and more.
Yep, even vinegar can remove tonsil stones! Basically vinegar is acidic and it erodes the tonsil stones, making it easier to fall off just by rinsing your mouth after. Pour vinegar in your mouth and let it sits for about 3 minutes, spit it out and repeat it again. After spitting it out this time, rinse it with water vigorously and the tonsil stones should come off easily.
Note that vinegar is not only erosive to tonsil stones but also your natural teeth. Tonsil stones are more volatile as they are hardened debris, nowhere near the density of your teeth, so they get soften more easily. But your teeth may also get it from the vinegar, so do rinse it carefully after so the vinegar doesn't stay on your teeth as well. The vinegar won't do harm to your teeth for such a short period of time, but you always need to rinse it thoroughly to avoid any issues, especially if you have sensitive teeth.
Purchase OTC Products
7. Herbal Mouth Spray
A lot of herbal mouth sprays on the market kill bacteria effectively. There are different flavors according to your own taste. Many of these herbal mouth sprays are targeted for people with bad breath. It will not kill off the bad breath in one go but it will help your breath to stay fresh for a prolonged period of time, and it usually takes a few days up to a few weeks to completely eliminate the source and your breath will remain fresh.
You can ask your pharmacist for the best option for you, according to your needs and personal preferences, such as how often you want to take it, how strong is the dosage and how bad is your breath, etc.
8. Stone Free Herbal Pills
There are literally pills out in the market dedicated to eliminating tonsil stones. They are capsules you swallow and they attack the infection in your tonsils and kills bacteria on them. Enhancing your immune system to allow your body to fight off the infection is how most of the pills work. Some pills may work differently by creating a hostile environment for the bacteria to survive and the tonsil stones will come off on their own.
Since it's a swallowing option, the result may not be immediate. Expect to take it for a few days before the result to kick in. Some companies claim their pills can even prevent further tonsil stones from forming by signaling your body to attack it before it's even formed. So the pills might offer a clean solution if tonsil stones bother you often.
9. Breath Capsules
A little different than the previous one, breath capsules target bad breath from any causes. They aim to bring up a fresh breath by killing off the bacteria in your body. Your immune system in your mouth may be weakened as your other body parts are under attack. This option brings you a fresh, clean breath by eliminating all the bacteria that might have formed during your eating habits.
10. Vitamin pills
That's right. Vitamin pills' effect may not be as aparent or as immediate, it will be your solution for the long run. Your tonsils are struggling to fight back bacteria because of your weak body immune system. To tackle the fundamental problem, you have to boost your immune system. Almost everyone has vitamin deficiency from the diets we have today. Lacking a certain vitamin would cause your body to dysfunction, thus failing to attack the bacteria rampaging your tonsils.
There are many types of vitamin pills. Maybe you only need a few or a certain type of it. Consult with your doctor or at the local pharmacy for more precise information regarding your situation.
Having bad breath is a nightmare. It takes away your confidence to talk to people and your willingness to engage in any social activities. Luckily, most of the time, you don't need to visit the hospital over any bad breath emergency and you can fix the problem on your own. Almost all of the bad tonsil smell is caused by tonsil stones. Follow all our tips on alleviating the bad smell and start having a confident smile on your face when you talk to people and can finally look them in the eyes when you speak!