A couple of times every year, I get the nagging feeling over a couple of weeks—or even longer—that there’s something in the back of my throat I should be swallowing, but I can never figure out what it is. During this period, sometimes a horrible white calcified thing would come out of the back of my throat, ye gods.
This time it started a couple days ago, so for once I searched teh interwebs, because there’s nothing that the Internet is more useful for than scaring the bejeezus ((Spellcheck says this is a word. Hallelujah.)) out of you when you have random symptoms.
Except in this case, it was pretty normal and run-of-the-mill… the things forming in the back of my throat were tonsil stones, aka tonsiliths. I never got my tonsils removed ((Or my teeth straightened, or my asthma diagnosed, because my parents thought doctors were evil. Though I understand that tonsils aren’t removed these days, usually, as they actually are helpful in fighting disease or sommat.)) so these things form in my tonsils.
I tried a number of things to try to get the damned thing out:
real bubbling-in-your-mouth gargling (no one ever taught me, thank goodness for the internet)
squirting water out of a little dental syringe thing that I got to clean out the pits from the removal of my wisdom teeth years ago ((One of the things that helped pushed me into poverty further as a graduate student with the laughable student health insurance provided by the university. It was either pay for the (local anesthesia only) operation to remove all four teeth, or end up losing all my back teeth to rot, since it was spreading, and possibly die of an infection. Like the olden days. Sigh.))
attempt to use a q-tip (too short!) or finger (gaaag… gaaaaag… argh)
And finally I gave up and googled further, looking for anything else that did not involve sticking something sharp or edged into my mouth, since I know from experience that actual wounds are much worse than tonsiliths.
I did find some internet snake oil, of course: “Therabreath” has bought and created dozens, maybe even a hundred, sites about tonsiliths/tonsil stones that specifically point back to their $40+ kit ($80 “deluxe”). I was suspicious because there was little explanation about how the products worked, and the reviews were always rather too general and too praising.
Fortunately, I did find someone who wasn’t interested in forwarding the dubious products of Therabreath, oddly enough: Tonsilstones.org, a small blog which a chronic sufferer had set up for people to share stories and information. It was this and other sites that eventually led me to the following solution:
This is called a “blackhead remover” tool. You’ll find it in the cosmetic section next to wherever they sell the tweezers. The important features of this little device are the length (just right), and that the head(s) are smoothed loops of metal—rounded and ideal for pushing things gently (natch) without ripping into tissue.
As various people—and myself—found out, the flattened loop end doesn’t do much, but the “wire” loop end works. And you can also use it to remove blackheads.
I have a bad gag reflex, but this little thing was thin enough such that… well, for some reason, it didn’t provoke my gag reflex as much. It took several minutes of pushing around before I—because this was a rather protruding tonsilith that just wasn’t budging—hooked some part of it and pulled it out. I think the final removal started from underneath the… thing.
It was a big tonsilith. The tool didn’t make me gag—the feel of the tonsilith being pulled/pushed out made me gag. I take it from reading on the internets that the large size (nearly 1cm long) was a bit unusual. It was like pulling out a smelly, ugly perl made from mucous and shit. Really. *shudder*
From now on, I’m going to gargle daily—when I do it right, it actually feels good—and scrape my tongue, in an attempt to keep “stuff” from building up in my tonsils again. Here is a video about tongue-scraping. The dude is right about what shows up the first time you do this. Ugh.
And now I’m going to go drink some more damn tea. Gods.
Note for anybody who comments: Yes, I will be removing “Therabreath” testimonial comments from this post if they look like they come from any tonsilith/tonsil stone site apart from the aforementioned tonsilstones.org and its non-Therabreath fellows.
ETA: Look, someone made a video of removing their tonsilith! Now, that is a tiny tonsilith. Mine was at least a hundred times bigger—definitely at least the size of the q-tip head alone.