Bad Breath and Tonsil Stones
Tonsil stones or to use their medical name, tonsilloliths can accumulate on the tonsils over time. They are mostly made of food, dead cells, mucus and other unpleasant things. You have to remember that the main purpose of the tonsils is to act as a first line of defense against inhaled or swallowed substances then in a way the tonsils are just dog their job. The main problem is that they have an unpleasant odour coming from hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan amongst other substances. They can also come lose at embarrassing times and often leave a continually bad metallic taste in the mouth.
One obvious solution would be to remove the tonsils. However this is a much more risky procedure for adults than for children and is rarely carried out.
One possible solution was to use lasers to remove over 90% of the tonsils but this required a general anesthetic with all the attendant complications. However surgeons are now looking at using the laser to just remove the pitted surface. This is carried out with just a local anesthetic, basically a mouth spray using Xylocaine. The hand held laser wand is inserted into the mouth and the red laser beam fired is fired in bursts of 20 to 30 seconds. Around 40% of the tonsils are removed this way. Because the laser seals as it cuts there is no bleeding.
There are a number of treatments which look to treat one or more of the sources of the problem. Nasal decongestants which aim to dry up excess mucus can contribute significantly.There is also the possibility of using sinus irrigators to help clean the nasal passageways.
For many people tonsil stones are just one problem associated with that socially terrible complaint of bad breath.Let us now look at a summary of the main causes of bad breath.
Tongue problems. Basically bacteria breed on the back of the tongue. Here the tongue is dry, poorly cleansed and an ideal breeding place for bacteria. Dead cells, food debris and post nasal drips all contribute to these conditions. It is the anaerobic respiration which can yield a putrescent smell typical of rotten eggs. The solution is removal of the debris and bacteria by using either a tongue cleaner or a toothbrush.
Your mouth can have over 600 different types of bacteria in it. Some of these will produce proteins which then break down into amino acids and then further into the gases which can have a foul smell.
Gum disease. Anaerobic bacteria can grow below the gumline and their waste products can cause bad breath.
Nasal problems. These can be due to infections of the sinus or indeed the presence of foreign bodies within the nasal patches.
Tonsils. As well as tonsil stones discussed above there can also be bad breath coming from putrefaction.
The Oesophagus is basically the passageway between your mouth and your stomach. If the valve at the bottom doesn’t close properly then gases can rise up into your mouth.
Finally it is worth noting that many people who say that they have bad breath do not actually suffer from it. There is even a medical name for this condition, Halitophobia or delusional halitosis.