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Mouth Diseases

Throat - small, squishy chunks

10/25/2006

Question:

I have noticed small chunks coming from my throat- (I think its`s from my throat) sometimes white, sometimes yellowish. The chunks or pieces are small not larger than a pea and can be smashed into a tissue. The smell is terrible and they just come from i think my throat and I will feel it in my mouth and get a tissue to spit it out and see what it is and it is these gross chunks of whatever it is.

I have never had my tonsils removed- no sore throat or other symptoms - besides ear problems here and there. Any ideas?

Answer:

These chunks likely represent material that can collect in the folds (also called crypts) of our tonsils.  They consist of excess cells from the skin of the mouth, food debris, and lots of bacteria that are kept moist by saliva.  Although tiny amounts of this stuff can be found in almost everyone’s mouth, a few people develop visible particles (chunks) like you.  In some people, they can even calcify and become hard like small seeds or stones.  They are then called tonsilliths.

Daily mild gargling with non-alcohol containing mouthwashes, warm salt water, or diluted hydrogen peroxide can help slow the development of these debris particles.  About the only way to stop them altogether is to have the tonsils removed.  Most people though find that they can live with the tonsil chunks as long as they know they are nothing serious.

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University