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#1
Old 06-08-2011, 08:42 AM
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Let's talk about tonsil stones (yes, TMI)

We had a thread on this a long time ago, and I was immensely comforted to know that not only was I not the only person to get these disgusting things but other people were actually much more laid-back about them. I admit I get wound a little tight about gross bodily functions.

So I have a rather large one now and it is bothering the hell out of me. For those of you not in the know, tonsil stones are when food particles and other nastiness fills up the little tiny holes in your tonsils. I asked my dentist about them some years ago who very matter-of-factly explained them to me and told me how some people can expel them on command.

Usually they work themselves out on their own but I have a small mouth and what looks to me to be big tonsils, and anything touching my tonsils makes me gag (cue blowjob jokes). I tried to poke at it with a Q-tip but it just made me want to upchuck and it certainly didn't get it out, and I'd rather do almost anything than vomit.

So share your gross stories, or advice, whatever you like. Remind me this is normal.
#2
Old 06-08-2011, 08:57 AM
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I get them occasionally and they drive me nuts. It makes it feel like I have an irritation in the bottom of my ear canal. I have somehow figured out a way to "suck" them out by flexing the back of my throat which can create a little vacuum to get them out. However, once they come out I need to immediately wash out my mouth because it's tough to get the nasty little bits completely out of my mouth.

And they REEEEEEK!!! Like concentrated bad breath. If I smell them, they make me gag something fierce (do not cue blowjob jokes).
#3
Old 06-08-2011, 08:59 AM
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I think I may get them on occassion. There have been times when I was sick and coughing and hacking a lot and something matching their description would be produced. So I think I may only get them when sick. I always forget to ask the dentist about them.
#4
Old 06-08-2011, 09:01 AM
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First time I've ever been glad I got my tonsils removed as a kid. Thanks!
#5
Old 06-08-2011, 09:04 AM
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I am grateful to have my tonsils - I think they are part of the reason I only ever get a head cold. Literally it never goes into my chest, ever. But tonsil stones are almost not worth it.

And yes, they are horribly smelly.
#6
Old 06-08-2011, 09:05 AM
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Oh god, why did I do an image search on tonsil stones? And it just kept getting worse and worse as I scrolled down....

I can now say that I've never had LARGE tonsil stones. I have sympathy for anyone who has.
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#7
Old 06-08-2011, 09:14 AM
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I get them. They are nasty. My sister-in-law, a dentist, tells me that it's not a hygiene issue, and there's nothing I can do except get rid of them when they show up. I notice that I'm getting one when I feel like I'm getting a wicked sore throat, but only on one side.

I do poke them out, and I buy swabs (the long q-tips with cotton on only one end) from the pharmacy for this purpose. Better leverage than a q-tip. Because these appear in the little pockets in your tonsils, I've had much better luck poking the tonsil beside the tonsil stone, which creates pressure and usually expels the tonsil stone onto my tongue, at which point I swill some water and rinse it out. And then I stomp around the bathroom and say YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK YUUUUUUCK and generally act like a three-year old until it's out of my system. And then my throat stops hurting.

To the OP: I had trouble with gagging at first, too, but the swab-to-the-side method is so much quicker for me that I've been able to overcome it long enough to get rid of them.
#8
Old 06-08-2011, 09:17 AM
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Ah, I didn't think of the longer swabs. That may actually work. Part of my problem is that my mouth really is small and it is hard for me to get my hand at the right angle to put the Q-tip back there. (I had to get all four of my wisdom teeth removed because my mouth is so small).

I will look for the longer swabs today. Thanks for the brilliant idea!

ETA: I do the three-year old stomp, too.

Last edited by Anaamika; 06-08-2011 at 09:17 AM.
#9
Old 06-08-2011, 09:29 AM
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I get them occasionally, generally when I've got a lot of post-nasal drip going on, like when I get a mild cold or I'm stuffed up for whatever reason. If I feel like I have one, I just put pressure on the bottom of my tonsils, pop them out onto my fingernail, and then wash them down the sink. My mouth opens quite wide (I practically have a flip top head, according to my dentist, even though my mouth *looks* tiny), so that technique may not work for everyone.


Ew. I just saw on Wikipedia that birth control pills can exacerbate post-nasal drip. Which is weird, because my periods of increased tonsil stone development do seem to correlate with times I was on the pill. Weird! Or confirmation bias. Now I want to do an experiment on myself.
#10
Old 06-08-2011, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
Oh god, why did I do an image search on tonsil stones? And it just kept getting worse and worse as I scrolled down....

I can now say that I've never had LARGE tonsil stones. I have sympathy for anyone who has.
::::note to self, do NOT google this. Not at work, anyway!::::

When I was a teenager I had 'em all the time. Usually only on one side, though.

As I've gotten older, I'll get them at random some times, but other times they appear when I'm feeling like I'm catching a cold - a bit more postnasal drip and / or throat discomfort. It feels like something's STUCK back there. Oftentimes, a tonsillolith-ectomy will make the other symptoms stop, which is strange. It's more of a bilateral thing now.

Removal: I usually just use a fingertip - as noted, pressed *beside* the spot. A flashlight, shined into the mirror and reflected back into the throat, facilitates this. No flip-top head but for some reason, I'm fairly good at holding my tongue out of the way w/o requiring a tongue depressor of any sort.
#11
Old 06-08-2011, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
Removal: I usually just use a fingertip - as noted, pressed *beside* the spot. A flashlight, shined into the mirror and reflected back into the throat, facilitates this. No flip-top head but for some reason, I'm fairly good at holding my tongue out of the way w/o requiring a tongue depressor of any sort.
I cannot do any of this. I can barely reach back there with a finger and my stupid tongue keeps getting in the way and won't cooperate.
#12
Old 06-08-2011, 10:31 AM
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Is it possible to have them and not know it? Maybe small ones? Is this something I should be hypnchondriacally worried about despite never having heard of it before?
#13
Old 06-08-2011, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
Is it possible to have them and not know it? Maybe small ones? Is this something I should be hypnchondriacally worried about despite never having heard of it before?
No. You'd know.
#14
Old 06-08-2011, 11:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
Is it possible to have them and not know it? Maybe small ones? Is this something I should be hypnchondriacally worried about despite never having heard of it before?
You could possibly have them without knowing. Open your mouth wide, look in the mirror at the back of your throat. Are there little white things poking out? Those are probably tonsil stones. No need for hypochondria, though--even if you do have them, they're harmless. (ETA: They'd have to be pretty small for you not to notice them with your tongue, though)

I used to get them a lot when I was a kid, but I had a horrible gag reflex so there was no way I was going to let anybody near them. For awhile I was convinced I had a horrible disease of some sort, but I still didn't tell anybody for fear they'd want to poke around back there. Didn't find out what they were for years--possibly here on the Dope.

BTW, another name for them is "Tonsilloliths." Which sounds positively architectural.

Last edited by Infovore; 06-08-2011 at 11:05 AM.
#15
Old 06-08-2011, 11:20 AM
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I get those things when I've been congested or had cold/allergy issues. Usually they feel like something that shouldn't be there rubbing around when you swallow.

Typically, mine come out the most often when I'm brushing my teeth, and switch to brush my tongue, and gag a little. Out they pop, and I spit them out and rinse.

They're pretty nasty smelling, although they look mostly like a little chunk of peanut.
#16
Old 06-08-2011, 12:43 PM
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Wow.

You really do learn something new every day.
#17
Old 06-08-2011, 12:50 PM
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I use a drinking straw, open wide and try to target around the lith. If I get really lucky I can pop it directly into the straw =) Straws are long enough to see around as I manipulate it, my hand is not too close to my mouth.
#18
Old 06-08-2011, 03:14 PM
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Aaak! I hate these things! I get them really badly sometimes, and it can be almost impossible for me to get rid of them completely. It seems like there's always more hiding behind the ones that I can get to. I must have really deep tonsil crypts. Whenever I poke around to get them out, my tonsils start bleeding, even if I'm being more or less gentle. Is that normal?
#19
Old 06-08-2011, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
Is it possible to have them and not know it? Maybe small ones? Is this something I should be hypnchondriacally worried about despite never having heard of it before?
My thoughts exactly. Never knew about them; now I fear them.

ETA: Oh yeah. My tonsils were removed. Nevermind.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 06-08-2011 at 04:35 PM.
#20
Old 06-08-2011, 05:25 PM
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My tonsils also bleed at the rare times that I remove a tonsil stone before its time. Over the years I have gotten used to my tonsils being inflamed, sore, and filled with stones. It doesn't usually bother me any more, unless one gets big enough that it feels like it's touching the back of my throat or tongue.

I learned at a very young age how to depress my tongue without a tongue depressor. It really makes life a whole lot easier. I haven't had strep in about 10 years but I used to get it 2 or 3 times a year throughout my childhood. Not needing a tongue depressor makes the whole process so much less miserable since the last thing you want when you have strep is stuff being shoved into your mouth.

I once asked my dentist if there was anything at all I could do to completely eliminate my bad breath. She said, "you have GERD and nasty tonsils - you're screwed". Thanks Doc.

My sister will remove a tonsil stone immediately if it gets big enough that she can feel it. She also bleeds after removing one.
#21
Old 06-08-2011, 06:49 PM
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I don't have bad breath, thankfully, not even when I have them. I tried and tried to get this one out today but it won't. It's HUGE. I guess I'll just have to wait until it comes out normally. Blah.

Last edited by Anaamika; 06-08-2011 at 06:49 PM.
#22
Old 06-08-2011, 07:10 PM
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Yes, post-nasal drip tends to make them a lot worse, which is why I have a problem with them.

Although it sounds from Wikipedia that the exact mechanism by which they are formed and calcify is not exactly understood, bacteria are a part of this.

If you swish and gargle a non-alcoholic mouthwash about 2-3 times a day, it will reduce the number of tonsilloliths and their size. I personally use biotene (be sure buy the big bottle, it's kinda pricy).
#23
Old 06-08-2011, 07:18 PM
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I'm currently considering having the tonsils removed to be done with the damned things.
#24
Old 06-08-2011, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
Is it possible to have them and not know it? Maybe small ones? Is this something I should be hypnchondriacally worried about despite never having heard of it before?
You ever sneeze and have something come out of your mouth (not nose) that's an off-white and smells terrible if you squish it with a tissue? If not, no.

I didn't know you could get them out on their own. I don't think I'll try, it'd probably make me puke if I poked around back there.
#25
Old 06-08-2011, 10:16 PM
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I get these occasionally (like once or twice a year). I check my tonsils most every morning just to be sure there aren't any there. When I do get them, I can usually pop them out with a little pressure from a finger or else pry them out with a toothpick, although that might not be a physician-recommended method.

Last edited by ataraxy22; 06-08-2011 at 10:17 PM.
#26
Old 06-08-2011, 10:47 PM
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Occasionally a person will try to pop one out by using his or her finger, but the little bugger will latch onto the person's finger and haul the finger back into the tonsil. In the most serious cases, the finger, then the hand, then the arm, and finally the rest of the body will be consumed, leaving nothing but a lump of calcified pus where there used to be a person.
#27
Old 06-09-2011, 02:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
I am grateful to have my tonsils - I think they are part of the reason I only ever get a head cold. Literally it never goes into my chest, ever. But tonsil stones are almost not worth it.
I believe the current line of thinking is that tonsils help guard against sickness in children but not for adults.

I got a tonsillectomy a couple years ago due to tonsil stones and chronic tonsillitis, and I've actually gotten sick a lot less since the procedure.
#28
Old 06-09-2011, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunter Hawk View Post
I believe the current line of thinking is that tonsils help guard against sickness in children but not for adults.

I got a tonsillectomy a couple years ago due to tonsil stones and chronic tonsillitis, and I've actually gotten sick a lot less since the procedure.
I'm on the fence right now about having this done at the doctor's suggestion. How was the procedure, and would you do it again?
#29
Old 06-09-2011, 09:37 AM
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An oldie but goodie:

http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/...=Tonsilloliths
#30
Old 06-09-2011, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunter Hawk View Post
I believe the current line of thinking is that tonsils help guard against sickness in children but not for adults.

I got a tonsillectomy a couple years ago due to tonsil stones and chronic tonsillitis, and I've actually gotten sick a lot less since the procedure.
I don't get sick very often, and I just don't see the point of having major invasive surgery for what is essentially an inconvenience. I don't get tonsillitis, ever. I'm glad it worked for you, though.

Last edited by Anaamika; 06-09-2011 at 09:48 AM.
#31
Old 06-09-2011, 09:52 AM
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This thread has been a model of decorum compared to that one. Yick!

#32
Old 06-09-2011, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Fiveyearlurker View Post
I'm on the fence right now about having this done at the doctor's suggestion. How was the procedure, and would you do it again?
On the whole, it was worth it.

I ran into a couple of post-op complications with bleeding, so I got to go back to the hospital a few days after the surgery for some minor cauterization and spend a couple days in observation. It's an uncommon complication, but I just happened to be part of that percentage.

The overall recovery took a while--I missed three weeks of work.

Lost about 20 pounds (I'm somewhat overweight, so I looked a lot better for it), but alas I promptly gained it right back after I recovered.

If you're thinking about having the procedure, make sure you have family or friends who can keep an eye on you for a week or two and can get you to the hospital if necessary (prior to the procedure, my doctor told me bluntly that I should stay in the vicinity of a hospital for a couple of weeks just in case).

That being said, I'd do it again.
#33
Old 06-09-2011, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
This thread has been a model of decorum compared to that one. Yick!

I thinK i set the tone. It's bad enough we have them, we don't need to discuss them in detail!
#34
Old 06-09-2011, 11:33 AM
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I use a mother of pearl chopstick. Works like a charm.
#35
Old 06-09-2011, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
Yes, post-nasal drip tends to make them a lot worse, which is why I have a problem with them.
Same here. I don't know why I have post-nasal drip (other than it's not allergies,) but I have it pretty much 24/7...two to three times I week I have to use a flashlight and those long medical cotton swabs to remove the larger ones.

My post-nasal drip has also caused my Eustachian tubes to get blocked up. For the past seven years I have had tinnitus and get small "pops" in my ears every time I swallow...every. fucking. time. Air travel is very painful for me, as the pressure in my sinuses and ears goes haywire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiveyearlurker View Post
I'm currently considering having the tonsils removed to be done with the damned things.
Same here...I'm hoping an ENT will also go "hey, deviated septum/other weird thing causing post-nasal drip and blocked tubes, let's fix that too!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
I don't get sick very often, and I just don't see the point of having major invasive surgery for what is essentially an inconvenience. I don't get tonsillitis, ever. I'm glad it worked for you, though.
Well, I wouldn't call it major surgery...def. just a minor procedure (some newer techniques can be done with just local anesthesia in an outpatient setting,) and only minimally invasive. After all, the hole to get at them is already there,
#36
Old 06-09-2011, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by bouv View Post

Well, I wouldn't call it major surgery...def. just a minor procedure (some newer techniques can be done with just local anesthesia in an outpatient setting,) and only minimally invasive. After all, the hole to get at them is already there,
You are right, but to me all surgery pretty much is major surgery.
#37
Old 06-09-2011, 02:31 PM
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I forgotten about these. I used to get them when I was younger but, despite a trip to the doctor who sent a swab off for analysis and told me there was nothing to worry about, I was never quite sure what they were. I think I was told it was a minor case of tonsillitis, but reading the wiki article that doesn't seem accurate. Haven't had one for several year now.
#38
Old 06-09-2011, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bouv View Post
Well, I wouldn't call it major surgery...def. just a minor procedure (some newer techniques can be done with just local anesthesia in an outpatient setting,) and only minimally invasive. After all, the hole to get at them is already there,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
You are right, but to me all surgery pretty much is major surgery.
Minor Procedure = Something done to someone else.
#39
Old 06-09-2011, 03:46 PM
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Whenever I get tonsil stones, I remove them with a few squirts from a Monoject curved tip syringe (google it). No toothpicks or swabs needed.
#40
Old 06-09-2011, 09:54 PM
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I read this thread last night, which led me to googling, then youtubing. It looks like they're pretty common, but.... ick. Yet I could not look away.

The youtube videos literally kept me up last night thinking about it.

Today, yeah, I was still thinking about it. So I looked in my mouth. I have never seen or heard of this before so I figured no way. But I had one!! I poked it with a rubbery pointy dental thing I have for my gums and it popped right out and I accidentally swallowed it. (Blech)

So as far as having one and not knowing, that's what happened to me, but it seems like the back of my tongue doesn't go back all the way to my tonsils. Even when I tried feeling it with my tongue back there I couldn't.

It seems those that have it have been dealing with it a long time. Did I get them my whole life and not known it? Or could it be a one time thing?

Plus, I was just at my dentist yesterday!! He didn't tell me I had a calcified growth in my tonsils!! Should he have mentioned it?

Very interesting thread. I have NEVER heard of anything like this at all before.
#41
Old 06-09-2011, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
I get those things when I've been congested or had cold/allergy issues. Usually they feel like something that shouldn't be there rubbing around when you swallow.

Typically, mine come out the most often when I'm brushing my teeth, and switch to brush my tongue, and gag a little. Out they pop, and I spit them out and rinse.

They're pretty nasty smelling, although they look mostly like a little chunk of peanut.
I only get them after my nose if stuffy or I had a cold. I just feel them in my throat and cough them out. I haven't gotten any in like two years. They do stink.

This is why I love the dope. I never knew the name.
#42
Old 06-09-2011, 11:40 PM
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I used to get them periodically and was able to expel them by contortions of my throat. I haven't gotten them in many years now. I have no idea why.
#43
Old 06-10-2011, 03:48 AM
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On investigation, I still get them, found a very small one in the back of my throat that was easily dislodged. It's been many years since I had a large one, they must have been falling out without me noticeing.
#44
Old 06-10-2011, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by bouv View Post
Same here...I'm hoping an ENT will also go "hey, deviated septum/other weird thing causing post-nasal drip and blocked tubes, let's fix that too!"
I have an ENT willing to do it. But, I don't think I get more infections or anything. I would just do it as a convenience and because I'm always worried that my breath stinks.

He told me that it was 48 hours of pain, but it sounds like from above, it's a considerably longer recovery if I'd be laid up from work for two weeks! That's not an option for me.
#45
Old 06-10-2011, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by TurningJapanese View Post

The youtube videos literally kept me up last night thinking about it.
Never occurred to me that there would be a Youtube vid on this. Therefore, I spent an hour last night looking at these videos.

Holy cow that was something else. One was of a 12 year old girl removing tons of these. Now I worry about my kids' tonsils...
#46
Old 06-10-2011, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by aruvqan View Post
I use a drinking straw, open wide and try to target around the lith. If I get really lucky I can pop it directly into the straw =) Straws are long enough to see around as I manipulate it, my hand is not too close to my mouth.
Brilliant! I've been using the non-business-end of a toothbrush (and a tiny flashlight) and it's not always very effective. I think I'd prefer a delicate stone removal procedure than my current method of crudely bludgeoning my tonsils.
#47
Old 06-10-2011, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
Never occurred to me that there would be a Youtube vid on this. Therefore, I spent an hour last night looking at these videos.

Holy cow that was something else. One was of a 12 year old girl removing tons of these. Now I worry about my kids' tonsils...
The video of the 12-year old girl was one of the first links that came up in my google search. I'd never heard of them before this thread and almost gagged just watching that video!
#48
Old 06-10-2011, 03:08 PM
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I gargle with an alcohol based mouthwash a couple of times a week and stopped having tonsil stones. May want to give it a try if you're bothered by them.
#49
Old 06-10-2011, 03:52 PM
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I just got another one out. It's like my tonsils heard me talking about them and decided to punish me. Disgusting.
#50
Old 06-10-2011, 09:11 PM
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I get them occasionally. Usually I notice them when it starts to feel like I have something stuck in the back of my throat when I swallow. My gag reflex isn't too bad, so I usually just stick my finger in and push from behind/beside to squeeze them out, then cough hard to keep from swallowing them. I have managed to expel them just from coughing in the past, but it wasn't easy.
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