Do you know what the white balls in your throat are? They could give you bad breath

You may have ever woken up with a smelly, yellowish ball on your tongue and wondered what it is. If that is your case, here is the answer: it is tonsillar caseum, also known as tonsilloliths or tonsil stones. It is the material resulting from “the degradation of exfoliated epithelium fragments, keratin remains, foreign bodies (such as food remains) and mucus due to the action of bacteria in the mouth”, according to the Infosalus portal.

These remains accumulate in the holes of the tonsils and end up forming these white balls, with a rather unpleasant smell. This is a rare problem as it is estimated that approximately one 12% of the population suffers it, but not everyone knows of its existence. Jonas Nunes, the director of the Breath Institute, acknowledges that 61% of patients with halitosis who come to his centers had not had prior evidence of tonsilloliths in their tonsils. It is a fairly common occurrence, since the pillars of the soft palate can hide it. The remaining 39% did notice the presence of caseum in their throat after coughing, or when they saw a tonsillolith on their tongue when they woke up.

tonsillar caseum

Example of tonsillar caseum

José Víctor Tisner Nieto

The most likely to suffer from it are young adults (women and men alike), who have a history of frequent tonsillitis and subsequent rhinorrhea. Apart from noticing its presence once the tonsillolith is out of the tonsils, there are other ways of capturing its presence, such as the discomfort in the throat when noticing that “we have something”, an unpleasant taste in the mouth or halitosis .

Causes of Caseum

These tonsilloliths can appear for different reasons:

  • Poor oral hygiene. If we do not have good oral hygiene, stones can form that end up becoming tonsilloliths.
  • Oral bacteria excess.
  • Consumption of medications that cause dry mouth.

What solution do we find to this problem?

People who suffer from caseum can suffer psychologically, since the shame of having halitosis can condition the social life of the affected person, either with a partner, with friends, at work, etc.

Some remedies that we find to get rid of them are:

  • Gargle. Try gargling with warm water and a tablespoon of salt, 2 to 3 times a day, for 20 seconds at a time. You can opt for a mouthwash if salt water is not your thing, but the important thing is that it does not contain alcohol so as not to dry out the area further.
  • Use a cotton swab to clean the tonsils. It is probably the least recommended option, since it can infect the area more. You can try doing it without applying much force, but we repeat, it is the least recommended option.
  • Tonsillar cryptolysis. This laser technique allows the caseum to be removed quickly and painlessly. It is about removing the superficial layers of the tonsils so that the tonsilloliths do not have space in which to deposit.

If you see that the problem worsens, it is best that you go to a professional to recommend a treatment so that you can finally say goodbye to the tonsil caseum.

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Laia Vila


Laia Vila


Judith Vives

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