What Are Tonsil Stones? (Tonsilloliths)

If you have ever had a sore throat, you may have noticed something strange in your mouth – small, white lumps that seem to have appeared out of nowhere. These are called tonsil stones, and while they may not be the most pleasant thing to look at.

This article will discuss everything about tonsil stones, including how to recognize them and how to get rid of them. and a lot more.

What Are Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones, also called tonsilloliths or calculi, are small pieces of hard matter that form in the crevices of your tonsils.

If you’re wondering what your tonsils are, they are two small, round pieces of tissue at the back of your throat that help to filter out bacteria and other pathogens from entering your body through your nose and mouth. In addition to this, your tonsils also produce antibodies to help fight off infection.

While your tonsils are doing all of this hard work, bacteria and other debris can get trapped in the crevices of your tonsils. When this happens, the debris calcifies and forms small stones.

These stones vary in size from a grain of sand to a pea and can vary in color from white to yellow.

You may not even know you have tonsil stones unless they cause you discomfort or are visible when you look in the mirror.

Most of the time, tonsil stones are harmless and do not require treatment. However, large tonsil stones can cause pain and difficulty swallowing.

In some cases, tonsil stones can also lead to bad breath.

What Causes Tonsil Stones?

Tonsil stones form by a build-up of bacteria and other debris in the mouth.

When food particles, bacteria, and dead cells become trapped in the nooks and crannies of your tonsils. Over time, these substances harden and calcify, forming small, white, or yellowish-white stones.

Tonsil stones are most common in people with chronic inflammation of the tonsils (tonsillitis) or recurrent infections (strep throat). People with specific medical conditions, like diabetes, are also more vulnerable.

You can read more about this by taking a look at Research Gate’s blog, Chronic Tonsillitis Improves Metabolic Control In Type 1 Diabetic Patients.

Tonsil Stone Symptoms

Most people with tonsil stones don’t experience any symptoms.

Some common symptoms of tonsil stones include:

Bad Breath:

This is the most common symptom and is often one of the first things people notice. When tonsil stones become large enough, they can cause a noticeable foul odor. This odor is also called halitosis. According to one study, about 3 percent of people with bad breath have tonsil stones.

You can read this study, Halitosis And The Tonsilson The National Library Of Medicine.

Symptoms of tonsil stones - bad breath(Halitosis)

Sore Throat

Tonsil stones can cause inflammation and swell in the tonsils. This can lead to a sore throat and difficulty swallowing—ear, nose, and throat pain. If you’re looking for a product to help soothe your sore throat, check out our best Organic Ginger.

Swollen Tonsils

Tonsil stones can cause the tonsils to swell. This may make it difficult to breathe or swallow.

Ear Pain

You may experience ear pain if the stones are large enough to press on your ear canal.

Difficulty Swallowing

If you start experiencing certain pains while swallowing, chances are you may have tonsil stones. Open your mouth wide and look up in the mirror. If you see white or yellow spots on your tonsils, they could be tonsil stones.


Stones can also cause you to cough. This is because they can irritate the throat.

Symptoms of tonsil stones - cough

Tonsil Stone Diagnosis

Tonsil stones are most commonly diagnosed by way of a physical examination. Your doctor will likely use a lighted instrument, such as an otoscope, to get a better look at your tonsils.

A CT or MRI scan may be used to diagnose tonsil stones if they suspect the stones are large or if you have recurrent problems with them.

Tonsil Stone Prevention

Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

This is the most important measure to prevent tonsil stones. It is recommended to brush your teeth at least two times a day, floss daily, and use mouthwash. These habits will help remove bacteria and other particles that can build up in your mouth and lead to tonsil stones.

Eating A Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is important for overall health, but it can also help prevent tonsil stones. Avoiding meals that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and help keep your tonsils clean.

In addition, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help keep your immune system strong, which can help prevent tonsil stones.

Avoiding Smoking

Smoking tobacco can increase your risk of tonsil stones. Tobacco use can cause inflammation and irritation in your mouth, which can lead to the formation of tonsil stones. If you smoke cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of tonsil stones.

Avoid Dehydration

Dehydration can make your mouth more likely to form tonsil stones. When you’re dehydrated, your saliva becomes thicker and sticks to your tonsils more easily. This provides a perfect condition for bacteria to grow and thrive.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help prevent dehydration and reduce your risk of tonsil stones.

Tonsil Stone Removal and Treatment

Laser Treatment

Most times, your doctor may use a laser to remove tonsil stones. This procedure is called laser ablation.

Laser ablation is less invasive than a tonsillectomy and has a shorter recovery time. However, it’s not always effective and may need to be repeated.


If tonsil stones are large and cause pain or difficulty swallowing, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat tonsil stones. Antibiotics can help shrink the size of the stones and reduce inflammation.


In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove tonsil stones. This is typically only recommended if tonsil stones are large and do not respond to other treatments.


If tonsil stones are large and cause persistent pain or tonsil infection, your doctor may recommend a tonsillectomy. This is a surgical procedure to remove the tonsils.

While a tonsillectomy is generally safe, it’s major surgery with a long recovery time. It’s often only recommended as a last resort.

Symptoms of tonsil stones - Sore throat

Home Remedies For Tonsil Stones

If you’re already dealing with tonsil stones, there are some things you can do to get rid of them.

Here are a few tips:

Gargle with warm salt water: Salt water is a natural disinfectant and can help to break down the stones. Mix a teaspoon of salt with warm water and gargle for 30 seconds. Spit the water out afterward. Do this several times a day until the stones are gone.

Cough them up: If you can reach your tonsil stones with your tongue, you may be able to cough them up. Put your finger at the back of your throat and try to scrape the stones off. Once you get ahold of one, cough it up.

Use a cotton swab or water pick: A water pick can help to break up the stones and make them easier to remove. aim the stream of water at your tonsil stones and let it do its work. You may need to do this several times a day until the stones are gone.

Avoid dairy: Dairy products can contribute to the formation of tonsil stones. If you’re prone to them, it’s best to avoid dairy altogether.

Drink plenty of fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids will help to keep your throat hydrated. This will make it harder for the stones to form in the first place. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Consult your doctor if you can’t get rid of your tonsil stones. They may be able to prescribe medication or recommend a surgical procedure.

Always remember that tonsil stones are not harmful and will eventually go away on their own. However, if you’re concerned about them or if they’re causing you pain, we recommend these teas to ease your symptoms.

These teas can help to soothe your throat and reduce inflammation.

The Bottom Line

Tonsil stones are an unsightly and often embarrassing problem, but they don’t have to be a lifelong issue. By using the tips we’ve outlined in this blog post, you can clear them up relatively quickly and easily. If you still experience problems after trying these methods, please consult your doctor for more help.


What are tonsil stones?

Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are small, hard deposits that can form in the crevices of your tonsils. They’re made up of food particles, bacteria, and other debris that become trapped in the nooks and crannies of your tonsils.

Are tonsil stones dangerous?

No, tonsil stones are not dangerous. However, they can be quite painful and cause discomfort. If you have a ton of them, it might make it difficult to swallow or breathe.

How do you get rid of tonsil stones?

There are a few different ways to get rid of tonsil stones. You can try using a cotton swab to gently remove them. You can also gargle with salt water or use a water pick to flush them out. If you cannot get rid of them on your own, you can see a doctor or ENT specialist. They can remove the stones with a simple procedure.

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