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How to clean cryptic tonsils

Updated November 21, 2016

Tonsils are masses of lymphoid tissue in the back of the mouth near the opening of the throat. They are part of the immune system and can range in appearance from smooth, with superficial pockets, or rough with deep pockets. These deep pockets are called crypts. Large crypts have a tendency to collect debris, such as bacteria, dead cells, mucous, dust particles from the air and bits of food. The accumulation of this debris triggers an immune response and an attack by the white blood cells. The result is bad breath, a mildly sore throat and the formation of a foul-smelling, whitish lump known as a tonsil stone. To keep your tonsil crypts clean and stop the formation of tonsil stones, follow the steps below.

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  1. Stand in front of the mirror with your mouth open as wide as you can. Shine the pen light onto the back of your throat and visually inspect your tonsils. Look for any white spots or lumps.

  2. Dip the cotton swab in warm water. Squeeze to remove excess water and sweep each tonsil with the moist swab. Use the mirror to guide you. Focus on any areas where you can see tonsil crypts or debris. If you encounter a stone, gently prod the outer fold of the tonsil tissue to force the stone out of the crypt.

  3. Once you have thoroughly swabbed each tonsil, gargle with antibacterial mouthwash.

  4. Boil a cup of vinegar and wait for it to cool. Then gargle with it instead of, or in addition to, antibacterial mouthwash. The liquid will help to clear out any remaining debris and the acid in the vinegar will help to prevent the formation of tonsil stones.

  5. Gently brush tonsils with a toothbrush that has been rinsed with antibacterial mouthwash to remove stones or debris from particularly deep crypts. Be warned, though, this method is much more likely to trigger your gag reflex than using a cotton swab.

  6. Fill the tank of your oral irrigator with a diluted solution of antibacterial mouthwash and warm water. Turn it to the lowest setting and direct the spray at your tonsils to flush out any remaining particles.

  7. Warning

    Be gentle when sweeping or prodding your tonsils. Set your irrigator at the lowest setting or you may cause your tonsils to bleed. If this happens, stop immediately and gargle with warm salt water. Do not use your fingernail to scrape a tonsil. This can lead to an infection.

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Things You'll Need

  • Free-standing mirror
  • Pen light or small flashlight
  • Warm water
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Anti-bacterial mouthwash
  • Vinegar
  • Toothbrush
  • Oral irrigator (Water Pik)

About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.

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