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How to Remove Food Stuck in Tonsils

By Catherine Chase ; Updated July 27, 2017

Your tonsils are located at the top of your throat, on either side. Both of the tonsils contain crevasses, known as crypts, in which food particles can become stuck. Typically you’ll naturally swallow these deposits without even knowing they exist. Sometimes they may stick to the tonsils and form a clump with bacteria and dead cells. According to the Medical Consumer’s Advocate, these clumps are called tonsilloliths, or tonsil stones. They cause inflammation, bad breath and, sometimes, a sore throat. Try removing them with some simple home remedies.

  1. Try coughing. Hard coughing may dislodge the food particles and other debris, and force it out of your mouth.

  2. Gargle often with salt water, or at least after every meal. The Medical Consumer’s Advocate recommends using about 1 tsp. of regular table salt mixed into a glass of water to help dislodge the food particles. It can also help kill bacteria that causes bad breath.

  3. Scrape the food particles out if neither coughing nor gargling work for you. Use a sterile cotton swab to gently scrape the tonsils. Do not touch the uvula, which is the teardrop-shaped structure hanging down in the back of your mouth. Touching the uvula will cause gagging.

  4. Use a water pik if you’re uncomfortable with scraping your tonsils. A water pik is a device that dentists often use. It provides pressurized water. Rinse the tonsils with the water pik to dislodge food particles.

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