Tonsil stones are unpleasant but do you really need to see the dentist or can you use a water flosser for tonsil stones removal at home?
Tonsils, which are located in the back of your throat, are a vital part of your body’s lymphatic and immune systems. It gets uncomfortable, though, if small stones called tonsil stones develop there. Even though they often cause no symptoms, they might have modest effects like poor breath.
You may have read several comments on message boards suggesting using a Waterpik for tonsil stones. However, there are also some things to be aware of when it comes to using a water flosser to remove tonsil stones that may encourage some people to use a different method of removal.
Table of contents
- 1 What are tonsil stones?
- 2 Is it safe to use a Waterpik for tonsil stones removal?
- 3 What do dental professionals say about using an oral irrigator for tonsil stones removal?
- 4 How to remove tonsil stones with a Waterpik water flosser
- 5 Best water flossers for tonsil stones removal
- 6 What Waterpiks to stay away from when removing tonsil stones
- 7 Youtube video on how to remove tonsil stones with a Waterpik
- 8 When to see a doctor
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 FAQ
What are tonsil stones?
Tonsil stones, often referred to as tonsilloliths, are just an accumulation of germs, food, debris, and other things in the cavities around your tonsils.
They will accumulate similarly to how plaque may if your tonsils aren't properly cleaned. Once you are aware of their presence, they may be quite unpleasant and even distracting. But don't be alarmed, as they are harmless, and getting your tonsil stones removed is quite easy!
If you can't see your tonsils from the angle in the mirror, you can snap a photo of them using the rear camera on your phone with a flash. Although smaller tonsil stones are harder to locate, they might cause the following symptoms:
- Throat discomfort
- Bad breath
- Enlarged tonsils
- Swallowing issues
- Ear pain in some cases
As you can see, these symptoms are somewhat imprecise, and having just one or two might indicate the presence of an entirely separate disease. Therefore, if you have any of these symptoms, be careful and investigate more.
Is it safe to use a Waterpik for tonsil stones removal?
The main purpose of oral irrigators, like those made by Waterpik, is interdental cleaning, which involves removing plaque and other debris from the spaces between teeth and from the gum line.
However, you may be wondering if a water flosser can also be used to remove tonsil stones. You can use a Waterpik to remove tonsil stones, but make sure to use it on the lowest setting. The Waterpik may cause discomfort and bleeding if the water pressure is too high.
If you place the water flosser too near to the soft tissue in the back of your throat, you might really harm it. Even on its lowest setting, some Waterpiks may still be way too powerful to be used on the tonsil's delicate tissue.
This can further irritate them or cause inflammation. If your tonsils are inflamed, they are more likely to trap more food particles and other debris.
If you have never used a Waterpik before, also read our articles on how to use a Waterpik and the best Waterpik Flossers.
What do dental professionals say about using an oral irrigator for tonsil stones removal?
When searching for advice for using a water flosser for tonsil stone removal, you’ll find mixed opinions. Here’s what Dr James Wright with 34 years of experience in dentistry says about using an oral irrigator for tonsil stones:
No: I would not recommend it as you could hurt yourself. Sometimes the stones can become embedded. I would recommend an ear, nose & throat doctor to examine you. They can remove it and then work with you on preventing future stones.Dr. James Wright, healthtap.com
While Dr James Wright doesn’t give a recommendation for the attempt of using a water flosser for tonsil stones removal, other doctors are positive about it. One of them is Dr David Martin. He has 29 years of experience in head and neck surgery. Here’s what he says:
Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are easily removed with a Waterpik. I have patients use this at bedtime, to clear all food from the tonsils, which is what causes them.Dr. David Martin, healthtap.com
And here is what Dr Yash Khanna says about using a water flosser for tonsil stones:
Yes it is safe and works sometimes but you have to be careful and not use high pressure as it can cause rupture of the tonsils. Use low pressure and if it is painful do not do it.Dr. Yash Khanna, Family Medicine 58 years of experience, healthtap.com
How to remove tonsil stones with a Waterpik water flosser
It sounds like it may not be the best option, but instead, when used carefully it could work in some cases. Here are eight simple steps on how to use a Waterpik to remove tonsil stones.
- To see your tonsils and the stones you want to have removed as clearly as possible, try to put up a light and mirror.
- Fill up the water tank with lukewarm water, and if you want to, you might add 1-2 tablespoons of salt.
- Put the flosser's nozzle in your mouth and direct it toward your tonsils. Make sure the pressure is on low before turning the flosser on.
- By directing the water jet upward, downward, and all around the afflicted region, start cleansing your tonsils.
- The warm water will assist to loosen the germs in the cracks if you continue doing this for 10 to 30 seconds. At some point, the first stones should start to come out.
- Increase the pressure or force of the flosser gradually to aid in removing any remaining stones.
- To get rid of them entirely, you may need to refill the tank and carry out the procedure again.
- After the tonsil stones have been removed, gargle with mouthwash to help remove any remaining dirt and bacteria.
Keep in mind that everyone has a different level of success with this method.
Best water flossers for tonsil stones removal
Here we'll discuss some Waterpiks which have been proven to be a good water flosser for tonsil stone removal.
Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660UK
The Waterpik Ultra Professional Water Flosser WP-660UK is known for its great performance and its recommendations from dental professionals.
We recommend this Waterpik for removing tonsil stones for these reasons:
- You have 10 pressure settings, starting with a very low pressure of just 10 PSI.
- It comes with 7 tips including a special “pik pocket tip”, which can be beneficial for flushing out tonsil stones.
- This Waterpik gives you 90 seconds of flossing time, so you can focus on getting the tonsil stones flushed out.
Here are a few customer reviews, from people who had success flushing out tonsil stones using the Waterpik Ultra Professional:
This also works wonders for dislodging tonsil stones, just remember to put the setting no higher than 2 or 3 and test the pressure first before aiming it in the back of your throat in the crypts of your tonsils.Amazon customer
My wife gets tonsil stones from time to time, and it cleans them out for her with no problems. Very quick and easy.Amazon customer
Another great water flosser we can recommend for tonsil stone removal is the Oclean W10. This is because it has a sensitive mode, starting from just 30 PSI. It also comes with 4 tips including a periodontal pocket nozzle.
The periodontal pocket nozzle is designed to help clean periodontal pockets along your gum line. However, it can also be quite helpful when removing tonsil stones as it enables you to be more precise and efficient with the spray. It's not a Waterpik, but it can be a good option for a smaller budget.
This water flosser is great quality it's amazingly in the hand feels like it's belongs there has so many modes and speeds to fit Olney holds a really long charger and is very powerful but gentle! So simple to use both my teenage Sons use it everyday! Great size for travel as well used it on the last vacation and so happy I brought it! Love all the different attachments that come with it also!!Amazon customer
This thing is amazing! Flossing doesn’t compare to what this water flosser can do! It immediately shoots out all the stuff hiding in my teeth and my mouth feels so much cleaner. I like using the highest setting, but it’s still just as effective on the lowest setting if you have sensitive teeth. The water tank is easy to refill, and the battery life is very good! Wish I had this when I had braces years ago!Amazon customer
What Waterpiks to stay away from when removing tonsil stones
If you are looking for a Waterpik for tonsil stone removal, you should look for one that has a low-pressure setting. But, be careful, even the lowest setting of most water flossers might still be too strong for most people.
While you find good success stories of customers using the Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660UK for flushing out tonsil stones, you don't find good reviews for the Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser. Here's what some customers are writing about their attempt to remove tonsil stones:
Low setting is still too strong for cleaning tonsils! I bought this to clean my tonsils and stay clear of tonsil stones, but even at the low setting, this is still too strong. I know this is made specifically for teeth, but maybe a dial setting instead of buttons would allow for more pressure adjustability. I had the corded one, and at the lowest setting it was mild enough to not make my tonsils bleed when I cleaned them. If you need this to clean your tonsils, this is too rough.Amazon customer
The Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser is a great portable device. But if you're looking for a water flosser for tonsil stones removal, you should look for a device with a low-pressure setting below 20 or 30 PSI.
You might find cheaper water flossers on Amazon that have a low water pressure setting. However, if you're looking for a high-quality Waterpik for tonsil stones, we can only recommend the Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660UK. If you're looking for a cheaper option, we can recommend the Oclean W10.
Youtube video on how to remove tonsil stones with a Waterpik
When to see a doctor
If you're unable to remove a tonsil stone with a water flosser or another home remedy, you should not try to push the stone out with a sharp object (such as toothpicks or pens), as this can cause bleeding.
Speak with a doctor if a tonsil stone lasts for many weeks, or if you have symptoms you believe are related to tonsilloliths. You should also contact a doctor if you are able to remove a tonsil stone but continue to have discomfort, breathing difficulty, or poor breath.
Other treatments for tonsilloliths may include:
- Antibiotics: Although there are negative effects and medicines are no cure for what's causing your tonsil stones, they may be helpful.
- Surgical removal: Your doctor may remove your tonsil stones if they are exceptionally big or giving you trouble.
- Cryptolysis: This procedure scars your tonsils using a laser or radiofrequency tool, reducing the likelihood of tonsil stones.
- Tonsillectomy: Your tonsils may need to be removed if tonsil stones persist over time.
Waterpiks or other water flossers can be a good approach to get rid of tonsil stones. You should be very cautious, though, as a high-pressure water stream can be harmful to the tonsil's delicate tissue.
We recommend the Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660 for removing tonsil stones because this device has a low-pressure setting of just 10 PSI. On the other hand, it’s a powerful device with a large reservoir to assist you in your everyday dental hygiene regimen for preventing tonsil stones in the future.
Everyone's conditions are different, though, and if you didn't have success removing your tonsil stones with a Waterpik, make sure to consult a doctor.
Remember that while oral irrigators can be helpful in removing tonsil stones, the primary purpose of a water flosser is for preventing gum disease, which you can read more about in our guide here.
And if you need some extra help keeping gums clean, free of bacteria and not inflamed, check out our guide to using hydrogen peroxide in Waterpiks.
Is a water flosser good for tonsil stones?
Yes, a water flosser can be helpful in removing small tonsil stones. But start with a very low water pressure setting. High water pressure can be dangerous for your tonsils' delicate tissue.
Does a Waterpik remove tonsil stones?
Yes, a Waterpik in general is beneficial in removing tonsil stones. But begin by setting the water pressure extremely low. The sensitive tissue in your tonsils may be at risk from high water pressure.
Which Waterpik is best for tonsil stones?
Choose a Waterpik that has a low water pressure setting. We recommend the Waterpik Ultra Professional WP-660 as it has 10 levels, the lowest setting starting at just 10 PSI.
Can you use a Waterpik for tonsil stones?
Yes, a Waterpik can be helpful when it comes to removing tonsil stones. However, each person's condition is different, and you might want to consult a doctor for the best-recommended treatment.
Healthtap.com: Is it safe to use Waterpik for tonsil stone removal? Consulted 17th August 2022.
Researchgate.net: Tonsillolith: Not Just a Stone But a Living Biofilm. Consulted 17th August 2022.
Livescience.com: What are Tonsil Stones? Causes, symptoms and treatments. Consulted 17th August 2022.