Bad Breath

Bad, Bad Breath

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, can range in severity from a mild annoyance to a major social embarrassment or sign of a serious health problem. Almost everyone experiences it at least occasionally but, for some patients, the source of the problem is a chronic condition of one or both tonsils.

Sometimes You Just Have to Ask

Is it my imagination or does my breath really stink? All tonsils have normal pockets in them, sometimes called crypts, fissures, pits, capsules or even crevasses. A collection of material such as food particles or mucus, or the presence of chronically infected tissue, can result in a recurrent foul odor. At times, the patient can easily feel or see collections of material often referred to as tonsil stones, tonsilloliths, caseum or just plain “white bumps.” However, these can also be hidden from view depending on one’s anatomy and extremely tricky cases can escape detection during a routine examination.

It is possible to pinpoint the cause of bad breath exactly by performing a simple test during which material is pressed out of the tonsils and given a smell test. This is usually easy and painless, some patients can do it themselves at home, and it does answer the question as to whether or not the tonsils, or something in them, are definitely the source of that powerful smell. There are also more objective tests, of course, and a VSC halitometry test can be performed to actually measure the presence of volatile sulfur compounds which humans find offensive.

Laser Treatment for Halitosis – To Remove or Resurface?

Patients with otherwise healthy tonsils, who suffer primarily from halitosis, may be ill-advised to have their tonsils completely removed. Millions of people have undergone tonsillectomies (removal) and gone on to live normal, healthy lives with no known adverse effects. For many, this has meant the end to years of constant bouts with infections, sore throats and other miserable symptoms, so it was good riddance to them.

However, some doctors feel that tonsils adult tonsils provide yet unknown benefits to the overall immune system and should not be completely removed unless it is absolutely necessary. Laser technology makes it possible to apply a technique, laser cryptolysis, which quickly resurfaces the tissue of the tonsils. This prevents the fissures from accumulating debris and causing halitosis, but does not completely remove the tonsils.

Resurfacing can cause much less trauma and partial tissue removal with a laser is often all that is needed to cure persistent halitosis. The option of having a local anesthetic in a quick outpatient setting, combined with a speedier recovery and less pain, is a very attractive feature. An experienced surgeon can help you answer specific questions as to which surgical choice is most appropriate for your condition.