Have you ever heard of tonsilloliths? You might want to google it. Apparently they can be white or yellow cheese-like formations that form in the crypts of the tonsils and can smell unpleasant. I have this issue and googled it a couple of nights ago. Removing the tonsils will permanently take care of tonsilloliths, but you can also use a q-tip to scrape the stuff out (it's kind of difficult sometimes, and you can flex your throat as if to gag, then scrape upward with the q-tip and the things should pop out.) You can gargle with salt water, and you can also gargle with some kind of vinegar. I don't know if this is what you have, but I hope I was helpful. The holes, if they are in the tonsils, are normal. But food and bacteria get trapped in them, and they end up "calcifying" into hardened clumps. Sometimes you can feel that they're there, and sometimes you can't.
Try googling "tonsilloliths" and anything else you can think of. Have a great day!
I have had this problem for as long as I can remember. Q-Tips are not the way to go. First, they aren't sterile, so you can introduce an more bacteria into your tonsils that could possibly cause tonsillitis. Second, they also can cause bleeding. And third, you can't get all the jink out with a Q-Tip.
I use a water pic. I find that the "portable" kind works best because I don't have to deal with a tank and the whole production involved. The portable one charges and when you want to use it, you unplug it. Just shoot water in there to clean out all the junk. I don't do this every day, like I should, but if you do it every day, it will keep that junk from building up in the crypts.
Hmmm... I never considered cotton swabs introducing more bacteria into the tonsil. Good point, Brucas. : )
I must admit, I live and die by cleaning out my tonsils with a cotton swab. I hadn't considered a device like a water pik. I think I'll invest in one now, though. Again, Brucas, I appreciate your input about a portable one.
jess804 - I'm not a doctor, so for liability reasons I cannot answer your question about whether or not you have cryptic tonsils. Sorry. : ( What I *can* tell you about are *my* experiences with *my* diagnosed cryptic tonsils and my tonsilloliths, though. ; )
First off, I think I was about 12 years old as well when I noticed whitish-yellow solid nodules on my tonsils. I felt like I had something caught in my throat. These critters seemed to favor my right tonsil at the time. I have two larger holes in my right tonsil and one large hole in my left (but I get tonsilloliths in other tonsil crypts besides these three). The largest of my holes (in my right tonsil) is so deep the entire head of a swab can fit into it and support the weight of the swab (I don't recommend finding out if yours can do that, by the way).
Sometimes my tonsilloliths would break off on their own, sometimes I would take an implement (typically a cotton swab or a toothbrush) to knock the things off. Heaven help me if it broke off and I happened to get a taste of it. : P My father experiences them as well, but I don't think my mother or any of my four siblings experience them.
I dealt with them for a few years, but when I was 15 my folks took me to an ENT for an unrelated problem. While there, we asked about these white nuggets on my tonsils that I sometimes developed. I hardly had a sore throat with them unless I pushed too hard trying to fish the foul things out. He took one look at my tonsils and said, "Oh, yeah. Those are cryptic tonsils." A rough run-down of the information he gave me approximately 20 years ago (that I hadn't already figured out on my own) was this:
They're medically harmless, really just annoying.
The white stuff is bacterial build-up.
"Cryptic tonsils" derives from the deep crevices that resemble burial crypts.
I could have my tonsils removed, but he advised against that course of action because normal tonsil function is to prevent infection.
He had a gargle recipe to help keep my tonsils clean.
I used the recipe for a while. It worked with fair-to-middling success. As I recall, the only things in it were salt, warm water, and hydrogen peroxide, but I don't remember the proportions. : ( But I do remember the VERY IMPORTANT THING with the recipe was NOT TO SWALLOW the gargle.
Again, I just dealt with the stones. Their frequency would wax and wane over the years. Only recently (past two or three years) I deduced that eating nuts and really crumbly food (like the peanut butter in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup) tends to aggravate *my* tonsilloliths. So I suggest you might keep an eye on the kinds of food you eat and see if you notice any patterns with your tonsillolith activity.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been using cotton swabs to clean out my tonsils. I don't necessarily recommend this, this is just something *I* do (gotta love the weaselly way I phrase that, right?). At one point I purchased a tooth flosser (looks and feels about like a toothbrush handle) and some of those floss-pick thingies that can be placed inside the flosser handle and locked in). Well, the flosser didn't work so well as a flosser for me personally - your mileage may vary, and I'm not here to condone or condemn any particular products. But if I snap off a cotton swab head a little below the swab and place *that* in the flosser handle, I made myself a *great* tonsil swab that has the reach I need.
I also wet the swab with a hydrogen peroxide-based mouth rinse before I use it to swab out my tonsils. When I'm finished, I usually brush my teeth. At the very least, I gargle with the hydrogen peroxide-based mouth rinse.
As I mentioned earlier, I am enticed by Brucas' post about portable water piks, and I think I'm going to give that a try over my juryrigged cottonswabbing method.
Well, sorry for the long post. I hope this gives you some information you need - maybe some things to look for, some things to avoid, and just some information in general to know you're not alone.
One specific comment to your post I neglected to address earlier, and for that I apologize:
1. In my personal experience of 22 years with tonsilloliths, they have not gone away. Perhaps your physician knows something I do not in this area, but I have little hope of them ceasing for me at this point. I can tell you their behavior changed oddly over time for me (I almost always had something on my right tonsil, but now the reverse is true), but they have not gone away.