Swollen Tonsils with White Spots

Swollen tonsils with white spots is often referred to as tonsil stones. This condition is usually not something serious but it gives a lot of discomfort. Let us find out some more information on this.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Tonsils are small gland-like structures located inside the throat. The main function of the tonsils is to hold all the viruses and bacteria present in the mouth and thus prevent any kind of infection. Basically, the white spots formed on tonsils are made up of mucus and calcium layers. It gives you a feeling that something has got stuck at the back of your throat. When flashlights are used closely inside the mouth, you can see the white spots on both sides at the back of the mouth and upper part of the throat. Sometimes, these spots spread over the roof of the mouth as well.
The surface of the tonsils have a number of tiny pockets called tonsil crypts which are made up of soft tissues. The lining of this soft tissue is continuously exposed to the saliva of your mouth. The digestive enzymes of saliva then break down the food particles that get trapped in the tonsil crypts. The residues of carbohydrates or starch thus obtained combine with mucus and bacteria and hardens up to form the white spots of various sizes which are also known as cryptic tonsils.
Causes and Symptoms
The key factors which are held responsible for swelling of the tonsils and formation of the white spots on them are: infection caused by the bacteria that exist inside the mouth, deposits of secreted mucus, residues of food substances and hyperactivity of salivary glands that triggers enzyme action. In certain cases, dead white blood cells may form white spots on the swollen tonsils.
Apart from the inflammation and presence of yellowish to white spots or lumps on it, this condition has other symptoms. Bad breath is one of them. Even if you brush your teeth after every meal and use mouthwash, you would find that the bad breath is coming back within a few hours. Actually, the white spots emit foul smell of sulfur compounds which results in bad breath. The larger the size of the white spot, the stronger is the odor. However, this does not mean that if you have bad breath, then you are suffering from tonsil stones. Sore throat or strep throat is another common symptom due to which swallowing becomes painful. It may trigger earache and itching sensation inside the ears as the nerves of that area are all interconnected. Some people feel a bad taste in their throat and roof of mouth.
Removal of White Spots
There are several methods that are used for scraping out the white spots from the surface of the tonsils. Some of them can also be tried at home. Brushing the tonsils gently with the help of a toothbrush helps in removal of the white spots. Alternatively, a medicine dropper which has a small curved tip can also be used for this purpose. The curved tips of the dropper suck out the calcium layers very easily. However, this could be painful. You can get rid of them without any pain by irrigating the affected part of the mouth with saline water. For this, take an empty bottle of nasal spray, fill it up with a solution of warm water and salt and spray it over the spots. Repeat it several times in a day in order to obtain the best results.
If one or more of the spots grow bigger, then you should not try to remove them at home. Rather, consult a doctor for the same. They often use curette for removal of tonsil stones. Curette is a surgical instrument which consists of a long, thin metal stick with a small loop at one end. Tonsil stones, when removed manually, provides only a temporary relief. For a long-term relief, these stones should be removed by means of laser surgery. In serious cases, a surgery known as tonsillectomy has to be conducted which involves removal of the tonsils. However, it is done only if other treatments fail to resolve the problem.
Small-sized white spots may not bother you much. Sometimes, they disappear on their own and do not require any treatment at all. However, the big ones create a lot of nuisance and need to be controlled as early as possible.