Tonsil Stones: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Tonsil stones are small stones that form at the back of the throat that are nearby tonsils. Although they are usually asymptomatic, they can cause minor complications such as the bad breath.

Actually, the tonsils would catch the bacteria before they go deep into a person’s oral cavity.

However, the tonsils have small folds in which bacteria and food collect and form small, stone-like substances, which doctors call tonsil stones or tonsillitis.

In addition to bad breath, these stones can cause sore throat, sore throat, hoarseness, and inflamed tonsils.

It is common for people with tonsil stones not to even realize they have them. Tonsil stones are not always easy to see and they range in size from rice to large grapes. Tonsil stones rarely cause major health problems.

However, sometimes they become large and that causes your tonsils to swell and they often have an unpleasant odor.

Picture of Tonsil Stones

Picture of Tonsil Stones

What Causes Tonsil Stones?

Your tonsils are made up of pits called fissures, tunnels, and tonsil crypts. Various types of debris such as dead cells, mucus, saliva, and food get trapped in these pockets. Bacteria and fungi eat this structure and cause a distinctive odor.

Also Read: What Is the Mucus Plug? All You Need to Know About it

Over time, the debris hardens into tonsil stone. Some may have a single tonsil stone, while others have several smaller structures.

Possible causes of tonsil stones:

  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Large tonsils
  • Chronic sinus problems
  • Chronic tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils)

Symptoms of tonsil stones

Although some tonsil stones are difficult to see, they still cause noticeable symptoms. Symptoms of tonsil stones may include:

  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Ongoing cough
  • Swollen tonsils
  • White or yellow debris on tonsils
  • Small tonsil stones that are larger than large ones may not cause any symptoms.

Preventing Tonsil Stones

If you have tonsil stones, they can occur regularly. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent them. These stages include:

When you brush your teeth clean the bacteria on the back of your tongue and practice good oral hygiene.

  • Quitting smoking
  • Gargling with salt water
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

How to Remove Tonsil Stones

Most tonsillitis is not dangerous, but most people want to get rid of them because they cause a bad odor or discomfort. Treatment starts with home remedies but in case of seriousness, it may lead to medical procedures.

Low-pressure irrigator

We suggest using a low-pressure water irrigator such as a water flosser can help loosen tonsil stones.

Stand in front of a mirror and using a water irrigator, aim the water flow towards the tonsil stones.

Be careful when releasing the tonsil stone, as it can fall towards the back of the throat and cause coughing. Do not try this on children who may be choking.

A person can also use a water flosser to water the tonsils regularly to prevent the formation of tonsil stones.

Irrigators are available for purchase online.


Rinsing strongly with salt water can reduce throat discomfort and help remove tonsil stones. Saltwater can also help change your oral chemistry.

It also helps to get rid of the odor caused by tonsil stones. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle.


When you cough one you may first find that you have tonsil stones. A powerful cough helps to loosen stones.

Manual removal

It is not advisable to remove stones yourself with rigid objects such as a toothbrush. It is important that your tonsils are so sensitive to delicate tissue.

Manual removal of tonsil stones is dangerous and can lead to problems such as bleeding and infection. If you must try anything, using a water pick or cotton swab is the best option.

Minor surgical procedures are recommended if the stones become particularly large or cause pain or persistent symptoms.

Laser tonsil cryptolysis

In this process, a laser is used to remove crystals containing tonsil stones. The procedure is often performed using local anesthesia. Discomfort and recovery time is usually short.

Cobblestone cryptolysis

In cobblestone cryptolysis, there is no heat. Instead, radio waves convert the salt solution into charged ions. These ions can cut through the tissue. Like lasers, cobblestone cryptolysis reduces tonsil crystals but without the same burning sensation.


Tonsilectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. This procedure can be done using a scalpel, laser, or cobblestone device.

Doing this surgery for tonsil stones has been controversial. Doctors who prescribe tonsillectomy for tonsil stones use it only for severe, chronic cases and after all other methods have been tried without success.


In some cases, antibiotics may be used to treat tonsil stones. They can be used to reduce bacterial counts that play a key role in the development and growth of tonsil stones.

The disadvantage of antibiotics is that they do not treat the root cause of the stones and they come with their own side effects. They should also not be used for a long time, which means that tonsil stones may return after you stop taking antibiotics.

Problems with tonsil stones

Although problems with tonsil stones are rare, they are possible. One of the most serious problems caused by tonsil stones is a deep infection of the tonsil trusted source, known as pus.

Large tonsil stones can spoil and cause damage to the normal tonsil tissue. It can lead to significant swelling, inflammation, and infection.

Tonsil stones associated with tonsil infections may also require surgery.

Are tonsil stones Contagious?

No, tonsil stones are not contagious. They are made of a material called Biofilm Trusted Source.

In the mouth, biofilm is a combination of bacteria that interact with your oral bacteria and your oral chemistry. This mixture can be attached to any damp surface.

In the case of tonsil stones, the material inside the tonsils hardens. Another common biofilm plaque in the mouth.

Touch Points

Tonsil stones are a common problem. Although they bring a wide variety of symptoms, tonsil stones rarely lead to serious problems.

If you have frequent tonsil stones, practice good dental hygiene and stay hydrated. If they become a problem or you are worried about them, talk to your doctor. Together you can decide the best way to treat your tonsil stones and prevent them in the future.

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