Tonsil Stones

small tonsil stones on a finger

About those smelly tonsil stones and how to remove them and be rid of them for good

Tonsil stones are another thing that causes halitosis (bad breath). They are formally known as tonsilloliths. They are objects usually made of calcium that grow and develop over time in the crypts and crevasses of the tonsils. They are usually white with a yellow hue in color and some people describe them as white spots in the throat or white spots on the tonsils. Tonsil stones are common in adults and are rare for children and babies. There are few noticeable symptoms of tonsilloliths other than bad breath, but for most of us here at BreathMD that is enough of a reason to find out if we have them and get them out if we do.

What causes tonsil stones

So how do you get tonsil stones? What cause tonsilloliths? Those are very good questions but unfortunately the exact causes are unknown. While tonsils play an important role in trapping harmful bacteria from entering the rest of your body, they also tend to trap food, mucus, dead cells, and other particles. There is a generally accepted notion that tonsil stones are caused by the food, particles, and bacteria that are accumulated on and in the tonsils. These particles are broken down in time by saliva and digestive enzymes and most of what remains is the hard deposits of the particle (usually calcium). The softer parts are broken down and eventually are washed away.

There have also been studies that prove a correlation between patients who have tonsilloliths and patients who suffer from post-nasal drip, which is another cause of bad breath.

Side-effects of tonsil stones

There are various signs and symptoms of tonsil stones. Below is a list of the side-effects of them. Keep in mind that tonsil stones vary greatly in size and that a lot of these symptoms only manifest themselves with patients who suffer from large or rare giant tonsilloliths.

While the side-effects can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, they are rarely life threatening and there has not been any evidence that they negatively affect one's overall health.

How do you know if you have tonsil stones

tonsil stones are white spots on tonsils

If you suffer from the above mentioned symptoms of tonsilloliths you may have them. Keep in mind it is extremely rare to suffer from tonsil stones if you had a tonsillectomy and had your tonsils removed.

You can usually determine if you have tonsil stones through visual inspection. Grab a flashlight and face a mirror. Open your mouth in such a way that you have a clear view of your tonsils. Shine the light on the tonsils and inspect each of them thoroughly for any white spots or white objects on them. Also you may try taking a clean Q-tip and using that to pull back the flap of the tonsils to inspect the cryptic area in the tonsils. If you do not see any white spots or objects you should be good to go. If you do see white objects they might be tonsil stones, debris from a larger tonsil stone, or a tonsil stone in development.

Tonsils stones can also be detected through X-rays and CAT scans and they are often discovered accidentally through these methods.

How to remove tonsil stones

There are various methods used to treat and remove tonsil stones. They are often removed or dislodged unintentionally by coughing or even swallowing. The simplest method of the removal of tonsil stones is take a Q-Tip (people report a bent bobby pin works well) and to gently apply pressure to the white stone until it is dislodged. If that doesn't work try to apply pressure through different angles and try a back and forth motion. Also if it is hard to reach you might try taking another Q-tip and using that to pull back the flap or part of the tonsil so you have better access. Remember to be very gentle. Your tonsils are very fragile and they might bleed if handled recklessly. A little bleeding is common in removing tonsil stones but do your part and be gentle and take your time to minimize the bleeding and irritation done to your tonsils.

Removal of tonsil stones is also carried out effectively by using an oral irrigator. Ideally the best irrigation tool to use is an oral irrigator that is used to irrigate the lacerations left by the removal of wisdom teeth. Other oral irrigators may be used such as a WaterPik or the SinuPulse Irrigation System but be sure to use the lowest setting at first, and if you feel even the lowest setting would be too powerful on your tonsils, then don't do it. CAUTION: You may rupture or puncture your tonsil if the water stream is too strong. Be careful and smart. Take your time while irrigating and hopefully that will get rid of your tonsil stones.

If you have tried the above mentioned methods and they did not work, consider seeing a doctor. Doctors may remove tonsil stones by curettage, laser, or even surgery if necessary. If they are really bad and keep recurring, the doctor may suggest tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils). The doctor will let you know what the best treatment for tonsil stones would be.

Should I get my tonsils removed?

Many people consider getting their tonsils removed if they suffer from recurring tonsil stones and bad breath. It is a hard decision to make and there are many things to consider personally and with your doctor before removing them. The recovery time from a tonsillectomy increases as the patient gets older and many doctors discourage it for adults, whereas many adult patients have had them removed and stated the recovery wasn't too hard and they are loving life after having them out. Research the topic heavily. If tonsil stones are the only reason you want them out first try removing the tonsil stones and applying the preventive measures in your life that are outlined in the next section. If you just can't get rid of the tonsil stones and if your tonsils are causing you to have tonsillitis and sickness regularly, it might be best just to rip them out yourself. Just kidding, get a doctor to do a tonsillectomy.

Prevention

While removing tonsil stones is possible, it is important to take measures that stop them from returning and recurring often. We believe that the stones are caused by particles that get trapped in the tonsils, so in order to prevent tonsil stones it is important to clean your tonsils regularly to keep them free of the particles that would eventually break down and cause the tonsilloliths to develop. Here is a list of methods you can apply to prevent tonsil stones.

Keep in mind you will probably not see immediate results. Doing these preventive measures will hinder the growth of future tonsil stones, but do little to remove the tonsil stones you currently have. Try to remove the tonsil stones you currently have and then carry out these preventive measures to try to keep new ones from forming. Overtime you should notice results, but don't give up after a couple of weeks. It might take months for you to see results.

Also do not neglect other oral health care while trying to get rid of tonsil stones. Read our article on How To Get Rid of Bad Breath for an overview of a basic oral care regimen that will help you have fresh breath.

If you take the protective measures above, hopefully you will be rid of tonsil stones for good and eliminate tonsil stones from your life!

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Comments (53)
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This page helped a lot!

I've had these for a good while I'm almost 17 and it's really disturbing when I have to deal with this at school or in public I bleed a little sometimes but this page helped I'm not scared or worried anymore and it doesn't cause bad breath for me but I'm definitely considering to get my tonsils removed!

by Marty on May 25, 2015 | 1:51 AM

This page helped a lot!

I've had these for a good while I'm almost 17 and it's really disturbing when I have to deal with this at school or in public I bleed a little sometimes but this page helped I'm not scared or worried anymore and it doesn't cause bad breath for me but I'm definitely considering to get my tonsils removed!

by Marty on May 25, 2015 | 1:51 AM

I decided to have the surgery

I decided to be big and strong and have my tonsils removed, due to the stinky tonsil stones that appeared in my tonsils at least every other day. They were big and sometimes just alot of them backed up, and they smell just like ****, which was causing me to become insecure while talking directly in someones face. Ive been dealing with it since i was like 15 and now im 21. I just had my surgey today 5/21/15 and its not as bad as you would think. I can swallow, move around, i can pretty much do anything. The pain is not deathly, its very managable. The process of getting my tonsils removed only took like 2 hours total for the surgery and now i can finally say i am FREE! FREE of bad breath, free of sore throats, free of tonsilitis. My tonsils have been nothing but a disruption for me and i hope i can help someone out by reading this. P.S. just get the surgey its worth it!

by Hannah on May 21, 2015 | 11:51 PM

I've had tonsil stones going on two years I'm 17 I hate these nasty things I try to get them out but all of it doesn't come out I've even went to the doctor an he couldn't get it out an I've tried meds still no help so I've decided to get them removed

by Dominique on May 19, 2015 | 5:23 PM

Now I know what these things are. Have been wondering what these nasty things were. I'm 19 and have been having then since I was 15. They usually come out by themselves for me. When they don't come out by themselves and it starts bugging me I just pick them right out. Doesn't really bother me a lot. It only gets annoying when it happens when I am at school or anywhere out in public.

by Kassie on May 15, 2015 | 8:51 AM

very painful but worth it

The only way to get rid of those nasty stones is surgery...i was in the same situation until i got mine removed few days ago....im on day 15 today of recovery after the surgery not fully recovered though but i must say im 90% better...its so far the most painful experience one can go through

by Evangeline on May 15, 2015 | 3:40 AM

I get them almost every second day or so.. hate the smell of it. I try and remove them and gargle daily.. for some reason it happens to only one side of my throat .. always... not sure why. very informative page - thanks - will try the probiotics :)

by Kits on May 12, 2015 | 6:01 PM

I discovered I had a problem with these nasty things about 10 years ago. Now periodically they crop up. It starts with a terrible taste in my mouth and a swollen and painful tonsil (I only get them on the side that I primarily chew on). The only way that works for me personally to get rid of them is to first do a sinus flush, then I get my flashlight and in this weird maneuver, I open my mouth wide, clench the back of my throat/tonsils and typically several of them dislodge and come out. It would be the same thing you would do if you felt like you had popcorn kernel stuck in your throat and were trying to dislodge it. If I had discovered I had this issue at a younger age, I would have had my tonsils removed. I despise these things.

by Coco on May 8, 2015 | 6:39 PM

suicideonmymind

i unable to find tonsil stones buh my breath is killing,i feel like dieing...pls helppppp

by toby on May 5, 2015 | 10:50 AM

Surgery didnt help In my case... After 1.5 year, they are back...

by Jessica on May 1, 2015 | 1:03 AM

Thank you this page really helped me out.for me this usually comes maybe once or twice a month and I asked my GP and she said she does not know anything as such.this was worrying me because its yellow and smells so bad.I did not know what is it until going through this page.thank you for sharing this sometimes is hard to ask around about something concerns your health when dont know what is it? And how critical is it?.tanx

by khanyo on Apr 30, 2015 | 11:26 AM

I lived & suffered with this problem for over 15 years... Once I discovered my problem, I would lpik them out n then gargle with mouth wash.. It took 15 years doing the same routine to see results.. Today I can say I'm rid of this problem.. Now a days I still check to see if there hiding bak there, & I don't seem to find any.. So yes you can finally get rid of them by routinely removing them as they occur, & brushing,gargling ur mouth at least twice a day.. Everybody is different, it might or might not take that long to see results... Hope this info was helpful..

by Jak on Apr 28, 2015 | 5:32 AM

Tonsils gone!

I had tonsil infections and tonsil stones the last five years. Tried to deal with them by scraping them out and various gargles. Finally had them taken out, second day post op at 40yrs old. It feels like a really bad strep throat, otherwise not that bad. I wouldn't wait to have it done if you are younger. Even though it's not healed yet the taste of the tonsil stones,smell are gone and the feeling of two lumps in my throat are gone too.

Yay!

by Tara on Apr 24, 2015 | 5:51 PM

I'm 14 Years Old And EVERY Week I Get These On My Tonsils. I Get Alot Of Them Like 6 And It Leaves My Breathe Stink.

by Asia on Apr 23, 2015 | 3:26 PM

Im 22 and have had tonsil stones for two years now.and have been sick for over a year. iv had a big tonsil stone stuck in my tonsil for over two month's now i went to my doctor and she couldn't even get it out so i was referred to a ear nose throat doctor and he was only able to get part of it out. So now i have to get my tonsils removed and i know its going to feel alot better.

by crystal on Apr 22, 2015 | 2:11 AM

VERY HELPFUL

This page is AWESOME and straight to the point, exactly all the information i needed, this is great with no run around thanks

by RaShunda B on Apr 20, 2015 | 9:36 PM

nasty

I'm currently am suffering with it an never knew what it was until I read this web page. It was very helpful an put me at peace knowing what it is. I'm 21 an suffered with this since I was a young child

by Nikki on Apr 19, 2015 | 10:51 PM

I'm 17 and I'm consider surgery. I've been dealing with this for a good year. I've used bobby pins which work effectively for me. In doing so, I would discover more tonsil stones days later. My sister is always complaining that my breath stinks even when I brush my teeth excessively. I'm constantly turning away as I talk to people in fear that they would smell this horrible odor caused from these stones. I was already embarrassed in school when someone offered me a mint because that's how bad my breath was. I hate living with this. Not matter how many times I empty it, it comes back just a few days later with the same problems. I'm tired of dealing with this and I feel like surgery is the way to go

by Sophia on Mar 22, 2015 | 6:49 AM

Huge problem for me in the past, almost daily episode of a softish clump. By depressing the tonsils with wooden spatula I squeezed out soft long cream threads of muck (must be before it forms clumps & calcifies as the stones). Repeated this procedure over a period of a few weeks over the full surface of the tonsils. This was about 10 years ago & I have only had a couple of soft clumps since.

by Ann on Mar 20, 2015 | 1:55 PM

Thank you so much for this! I'm 15 years old and I discovered these nasty things about a year ago. Every so often I check the back of my throat and I'll pick them out. This might sound strange but I enjoy picking them out. I do get worried when I bleed but since a little bleeding is normal, I'm not worried about it anymore. Its like the satisfaction of popping a pimple and relieving the pressure. It feels great to get them out. Thank god they don't make my breathe stink. I've never had bad breath problems and they don't cause any other problems. I was just kinda worried that they were harmful or harming me in a way that I didn't know of but now I feel 100% better! Thanks again!

by Jordan on Mar 19, 2015 | 11:03 PM
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