You’ve discovered you have tonsil stones and you want to do something about it, so you grab yourself a cu-tip, reach into the back of your throat and experience a giant gag reflex.
So close, and yet so far! Removing this Throat Pearl is going to be a little more difficult than you thought! Or is it?
One of the best ways to remove tonsil stones without gagging is to use a throat numbing spray to dull the senses, which will significantly reduce your gag reflex so you can remove your tonsil stones. Other methods include ice, gargling, and salt.
So in this article we’re going to cover what the gag reflex is and how we can work around it so that you can manage your tonsil stones.
What Causes The Gag Reflex?
Technically speaking, the gag reflex is your body’s defense mechanism to protect you from swallowing something foreign or unattended and is controlled by the medulla oblongata.
The pharynx contracts and the larynx pushes up as a reflex, seemingly uncontrollably.
If you’ve ever tried to remove tonsil stones and you almost threw up, or you smelled a tonsil stone with similar results, then two separate triggers have occurred. In fact, the gag reflex can be triggered in two different ways:
- Physical stimulus, aka somatogenic
- Psychological/Mental stimulus, aka psychogenic
In the first example, probing around your tonsils and the back of your throat will elicit a physical gag reflex, and in the second example the thought of probing around the back of your mouth might elicit a psychological trigger.
This is why you can sometimes gag when you smell, taste, or see different stimuli which is activated by your cerebral cortex.
The good news is that you can train your body to not be as sensitive to gagging, at least physically. Though you may still trigger a psychological gag reflex which can be reduced over time.
Secrets To Removing Tonsil Stones Without Gagging
A while ago I made a video on Youtube covering this topic because I noticed that this was a very common issue people were trying to solve.
By this point I had gotten used to removing tonsil stones over the years so I had developed a resistance to gagging, so I had to think about different ways a newbie could go about removing tonsil stones with a sensitive gag reflex.
These are the tips that have worked for most people.
Throat Numbing Spray For Tonsil Stones
Originally intended for people who were in lots of pain from a sore/strep throat, the throat numbing spray by Chloraseptic (Amazon) works incredibly well for removing tonsil stones!
Simply spray it on your tonsils and in the back of your throat before using one of your tonsil stone removal tools and you’ll be able to probe around without feeling anything.
In fact, the physical trigger of your gag reflex will be significantly reduced. However, you may still experience a mental trigger.
Numb Your Throat With Ice
If you’re not able to get to the store and get some throat numbing spray, another way you can numb your gag reflex is by using ice. Most people have access to ice, so I wont link to any recipes here, but I will say that the process will take a little bit longer.
Depending on the area you’re trying to numb, you may want to cool the outside of your throat around your lymph nodes while also tilting your head back and gargling with ice water.
Try not to overdo it, as it shouldn’t take very long to cool the area long enough to remove any tonsil stones. The numbing effect won’t last long either, as your body will warm back up quickly.
Another potential problem with this method is that by using ice you will be reducing the size of your crypts, which may make removing tonsil stones harder.
If you simply cannot get over the gag reflex, try this next one!
Gargling With A Tonsil Stone Dissolver
The third way you can remove tonsil stones without gagging is by using this homemade gargle, which has worked for A LOT of people.
Gargling is sort of an indirect way to remove tonsil stones because you’re slowly dissolving them, and making them fall out on their own.
The technique is simple: tilt your head back and stick out your tongue as far as you can without gagging, and gargle for about 30 seconds at a time.
Make sure that you feel the solution get all the way to the back of your throat or it won’t do much good.
Use Salt To Trick Your Gag Reflex
Another option is to use a pinch of salt on the back 1/3rd of your tongue prior to removing a tonsil stone. Honestly this one is really interesting to me because it’s not really clear why this would work. A few of my viewers had this to say:
However, in my research the gag reflex is actually controlled by the medulla oblongata, so the link between the hypothalamus is not all that clear to me.
I have seen it mentioned that the salt works to trigger your taste senses and temporarily block new taste sensations, but lets be honest – it’s the physical stimulation that’s causing it.
A study found in Pubmed concluded that salt didn’t have much of an effect on the gag reflex when compared to nitrous oxide, so take this with a pinch of salt (dang it, I’m still trying to figure out how to get this pun just right).
Desensitize Your Tonsils With Practice
Finally, the best advice I can give you is to simply start the process of desensitizing your tonsils.
I’ve been using tools for a number of years now and honestly forgot about how my gag reflexes used to be.
And that means, the more often you remove tonsils stones with the tool like the light pick or irrigator, the less of a gag reflex you’ll experience and the easier it gets.
It took me about a month of daily use before I started getting comfortable with using tools in the back of my throat.
If you’re just starting, it’s okay to use the throat numbing spray at first. Simply use a soft toothbrush or cu-tip to deliberately probe around your tonsils each morning, and over time you will develop “resistance” to gagging.
Just because you don’t see your tonsils stones doesn’t mean you can’t really smell them. So if you still have your tonsils then I highly recommend getting used to cleaning them.
Tonsil stones can form as fast as overnight and will be a reoccurring issue if you don’t take proactive steps in preventing them from forming in the first place.
One of the best ways to do that is by utilizing a simple daily routine that consists of flushing out the crypts with water and using an oral probiotic.
Getting over your gag reflex can be done with practice. Start with the numbing spray and slowly work up to not using it, and you’ll be removing tonsil stones like a pro in no time (probably around a month)!
So if you got value out of this post, please share it with a friend and let me know which method worked best for you.