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.


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 (136)
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I just pulled one of these things out again. Been having these since I was a kid. Never knew what these were called until today when I googled it. Even my dentist did not know what these were. Anyhow, since these only come up every now and then, they don't bother me as much. I always squeeze them just to smell how stinky they are. Then, I eat them. Yummy! Breath smells amazingly horrific. Just kissed my girlfriend and gave her some bits and pieces too. Just pretend they are Wonka Nerds candy w/ calcium and good for your bones.

by Pet on Feb 10, 2016 | 1:38 PM

This saved my life

I went to the doctor because I had unbarable pain on my ear and throat and everybody said it was an allergy or infection. Then one day I look in the mirror and notice these stones and I got scared so I researched it. I'm glad I found this I haven't been able to eat in peace untill now.

by Jose on Feb 3, 2016 | 12:21 AM


i have one it hurts my throat im only 11 years old it hurts very bad!

by m on Feb 2, 2016 | 4:57 PM

Hi, I have also suffered from these stones recently. I found avoiding dairy helps. And eating grated carrot and apple helps too. It acts like a brush for the tonsils. Do some warm salt water gargle for 2-3 days before trying to dislodge them. It makes the stones softer. Get some sunshine daily. Lack of vitamin D is also stated to be one of the reasons on some website. Good luck fighting these nasty little stones..

by Priya on Jan 29, 2016 | 11:38 AM

This page has been so helpful & hopeful. Just like many of you, I've gotten this little balls come up since I was younger. They would cough up every now & then but now that I'm 30, they are now a part of the make up of my mouth. I tend to wipe the pointy edge of my tweezers off with rubbing alcohol & then I go to town-lol. I have holes in the back of my throat now that seem to be perminant & everytime I pull them out, my tonsils bleed a little. Some come out easily, but then some won't come out for weeks. I can taste how they smell at times, which makes my breath smell horrific. No one had told me that I have bad breath, but I've learned how to tend to my mouth when ever I feel that my breath is smelling bad, by brushing, gargling with peroxide & using mouthwash to top it off. I find myself digging in my throat a few times a week now. This has been going on for a few years now. It's to the point, that it's now a routine for me like brushing my teeth & bathing. After reading about others experiences on here, I notice that after I eat dairy they are bigger & more aggressive. I believe for me that the dairy triggers it big time. I am a believer that diet could totally do the trick. Usually our bodies experience things because of what we feed ourselves. Some foods may respond well to my body than someone else's, which may cause the tonsil stones in one person & not in another person. DIET seems to be the key. I love the book "Eat Right For Your Blood Type". If you stick with that diet & keep your oral hygiene up, I believe we could all see a difference. Remember, everybody is different & that's why knowing your blood type & what's healthy for you is important to know. Let's get healthy & get rid of these aggrevating tonsil stones.

by Tina on Jan 28, 2016 | 1:24 AM


Some great brush I must go do!

by Sue Berry on Jan 27, 2016 | 5:12 AM

Gargaling cutip all that stuff does not work I had them when I was 16 wasn't that bad didn't have bad breath or anything would just cough them up every once in a while at first didn't know what it was thought it was a price of bread till I squeezed it and it smelt like cow poop I almost died I didn't know what that was coming from my mouth I would pick them out but they came right back now I'm 24 and it is worst I wouldn't care how bad it hurt having surgery to get this things of my tonsils its horrible I'm scared to even talk to people they make our breath horrible know matter how much u gargle salt water mouth wash it doesn't work I can't deal any longer I rather get my tonsils removed they are hell

by crysta on Jan 26, 2016 | 7:11 PM

Tonsils removal

For those who got their tonsils removed did you just go to an ENT surgeon and scheduled the surgery, or you had to get a recommendation from another doctor first?

by Ana on Jan 23, 2016 | 12:00 PM

Javier's method explained

Guys, this site it's been a real help. So after spending hours in the bathroom trying to gurgle with face parallel to the sink, I THINK I got it. So basically you don't push the water out you stay with your face down and try to get the water in kind of inhaling but bc of the gravity the water tends to get out so you kind of try to suck it and it makes like a gargling sound.that's what I figured guys, I'm not quite clear if this is exactly what Javier tried to say but so far this is the only way I could manage to gargle with my face parallel to the sink. And so far nothing came out but I'll keep trying.

by Ana on Jan 23, 2016 | 11:57 AM

Javier's metod explained

Guys, this site it's been a real help. So after spending hours in the bathroom trying to gurgle with gave parallel to the sink, I THANK I got it. So basically you don't push the water out you stay with your face down and try to get the water in kind of inhaling but bc of the gravity the water tends to get out so you kind of try to suck it and it makes like a gargling sound.that's what I figured guys, I'm not quite clear if this is exactly what Javier tried to say but so far this is the only way I could manage to gargle with my face parallel to the sink. And so far nothing came out but I'll keep trying.

by Ana on Jan 23, 2016 | 11:55 AM

I've had tonsil stones since I was 14 and am now in my 40's. Its a horrible condition and causes my breath to really really stink. I must say this website is really really helpful. There is also a similar one for UK sufferers has a great video explaining how these stink balls are formed!

by Katie on Jan 21, 2016 | 8:43 AM

Huge white stones?

1 year ago I noticed these large white things on my tonsils. I don't eat dairy. I don't have bad breath. The only reason I noticed them is because my throat started hurting and I feel like I have popcorn stuck in the back of my throat. One is on each tonsil and they are annoying. I went to an ENT doctor last year, and he got real large forceps and try to wiggle it out. They were not moving. Even though he numbed like the back of my throat up with banana spray, it hurt every time he pulled on them. He said they were stones. I don't understand how everybody on this blog just pulled them right out. He couldn't even move them. He suggested going to the operating room to take them out, and maybe also taking the tonsils out. My mom had her tonsils out and so did my son and make it seem so painful. I recently had major spine surgery and don't want to go through surgery again. They seem to go away after a while, then they come back. I noticed if I eat something sour like a hard candy orlemonade that's when they show up. Even eating hard serial seems to bring them out. I don't think I would want to even try to pull at them, because tonsils are very vascular and you can really bleed a lot if you make a mistake. Tonsils are lymph nodes and if you're doing it with something it's not sterile you could introduce an infection. So I would just go to a doctor. I wouldn't be using bobby pins and poking at it with other things, but I know people do what they think works best. I guess I'm going to have to go back to the doctor they don't go away soon . People say that they are associated with post nasal drip which I have a lot of, but I don't know the relationship of post nasal drip to forming tonsil stones. The look that one up. Well good luck to everybody I hope you feel better.

by Lilly on Jan 17, 2016 | 4:30 PM

Yucky things

I used to get these quite often as a young child and teenager. I can't remember the last time I had a big one which is good. I haven't had bad breath from them but they are very smelly. I used to dislodge them with a drinking straw. When I was about 9 or 10 I showed it to my uncle and he thought a piece of French fry got stuck in my throat. Lol... I knew when I had one because I would feel it with the back of my tongue. Horrible things... Glad I dont really get them any more.

by Brice on Jan 16, 2016 | 10:36 PM

I used to get these tonsil stones every once in a while when I was a kid, I'm 19 now and since I've gotten older I've notice they have gotten more frequent.I wasn't sure what to do about it either, and it wasn't until recently I just found the Peroxyl works amazingly. It's an over the counter mouth rinse I just had a whole bunch all over my tonsils last week they were covered in them and I got rid of them in 3 days just by gargling the rinse each night. Just make sure you don't do the salt water gargil and then the Peroxyl rinse it will make your throat incredibly sore either do the salt water rinse or the Peroxyl, me personally the Peroxyl works better, but that's just me.

by Kenna on Jan 14, 2016 | 2:18 AM

I'm 23 years old and constantly got these, my tonsils were always inflamed and my morning breath was horrendous. Anyway after a few years of this I had my tonsils removed about a week ago. Very painful and recovery time is now 2 weeks, it's been hard to drink and very hard to eat but personally I'm so glad I had them taken out. Extremely smelly breath during the recovery period also.

by Jhon on Jan 12, 2016 | 2:40 PM

I have had bad breath for the longest time despite my over the top oral hygiene. Finally today while I was in front of my mirror I happened to see the stones and immediately went online to find out how to dislodge them. I used q tips..boy were they wonder my breath has been so bad..

by so nasty.. on Jan 10, 2016 | 12:05 PM

The Reason for this...

I also get these small stinky hard things.I just coughed 1 up now in fact..I think I know the cause though, for me anyway. try cutting out the dairy products you consume.. I realised a pattern that I only get these stinky hard things when I drink milk, eat alot of cheese and so on. once I stopped eating those particular foods I stopped getting these nasty little things.

by Samantha on Jan 10, 2016 | 6:42 AM


I had these for years and went to the doctors several times about them but was none the wiser. After other health problems I totally changed my diet and am now pretty much vegan. i haven't had them back at all since and that was 2years ago so they are linked to diet and eating the wrong foods. For me I think it was fish as I was eating a lot
of tuna which was giving me acid reflux but don't know for certain. I read up on Aruyvedic diets which can advise you what foods you should be eating for your particular body type. Deepak Chopra's book 'perfect health' is a good introduction.

by Ronnie on Jan 7, 2016 | 1:33 PM


Reading some of these just grossed me out, but I get them too! They come up out of no where sometimes while I'm talking. I usually have to excuse myself or I fake a cough to spit it out. So embarrassing. I've never told anyone about it, not even my husband. I didn't even know what they were called or anything about it beside the fact that it smells like vomit. I don't have bad breath and it doesn't happen every day. I noticed it happens after I eat a really heavy meal. Ugh. I wish it would go away and I didn't have to secretly deal with this. :(

by Mer on Jan 7, 2016 | 5:54 AM

Wow I'm so glad I eventually googled this! I've been getting these nasty things now and then as far back as I remember (I'm in my 40s). Good to know it's not just me and also there are preventative measures to try.
I haven't noticed really bad breath with them but smell them once they dislodge, which is usually while I'm exercising and after having a sore throat.
Thanks for the informative article and comments.

by Relieved on Jan 6, 2016 | 4:07 PM

Can't stand them!!!!!!

I'm 57 yrs old and have been having these stones since I was in my 20s!! To get them out I bend one end of a paperclip and the other end you leave alone. It's a hook that you can grab them and they stay in the hooked part! It seems the older I get the worse they are getting! They actually come right up when I swallow now. So gross! Can't stand them ! Yuck!!! But I noticed when I eat a lot of sugar that is when I get them a lot more! Glad to read that this is happening to a lot of people ! Not just me! Unfortunately!

by Barb on Jan 6, 2016 | 1:28 PM


Just pulled one out yesterday! Wow so gross!
I had a severe sore throat for a week. Didnt have red/imflammed tonsils... But saw tiny white piece sticking out!
Did some research and decided to poke at the flap of the tonsil and came right out!
Ive recently also had bad breath and couldnt figure out why!
Now i know!
Will be checking my tonsils a lot now...
Will be purchasing a waterpik aswell. As i heard it can help keep the tonsils clean.

by T on Jan 4, 2016 | 5:59 PM

Small bleeding noticed

I have these also. Just wondering if anyone else has had a small amount of bleeding with these things. I noticed from my tonsils getting bigger some blood is coming from them.

by aj on Dec 30, 2015 | 3:32 PM

My tonsils seem largevand when I remove these awful smelling chunks my throat gets sore.I push the matter until itvcomes out.

by Barbara abraham on Dec 30, 2015 | 3:06 PM


I'm 14 and I've had these for a few years now. I have a sore throat now and I just coughed up a white chunk and I'm now so grateful to find this article, hopefully I can use some of these methods to cure my problem

by Heather on Dec 29, 2015 | 1:18 AM

Had them all my life. They've always been a sign that a cold is coming on. Nasty smelling things! Always attributed the tonsils as a first line of defense. That's how I know when to take it easy.

by Fred on Dec 22, 2015 | 7:24 PM

I keep reading that you can get rid of these horrible tonsil stones by having your tonsils removed. Well, I had my tonsils out when I was a child and I just got these "stones" for the first time! I'm in my 60's. My kids have had them in the past, so I knew what they were. The only thing I can think caused mine is constant sinus problems. I have used a q-tip dipped in peroxide, which works fairly well, but they come back within a couple of weeks. This is maddening and embarrassing with how smelly they are!

by C Jones on Dec 14, 2015 | 9:53 PM

Help! So gross continued!

Forgot to mention a couple things about me that may be hug factors in this and the amount of them I get-
1-I don't have any teeth nor do I wear dentures at all.
2-While I'll admit I haven't been one to brush my tongue everyday I do rinse with mouth wash a few times a week
3-I smoke (a pack a day)
4-I'm on several medications for other health issues.

Yeah I'm a mess I know. Please don't remind me!

by Katy Barboza on Dec 7, 2015 | 5:45 PM

Help! So gross!

I suffer BADLY from them. My breathe/taste in my mouth is ALWAYS gros . Worse when I wake up in the am. I'm sometimes coughing up 5-6 a day and then the next day none but still awfully bad taste and breath . Going to see an EMT on Wednesday about it but I need to know before then has anyone else on here has it this badly? It's been going on now since the end of the summer .i had them as a kid didn't have them for years and then they randomly came back. First in June/July two days in a row then they were gone. Then a week later same thing. After a couple weeks of that pattern it got to the point where the taste never leaves my mouth, my breathe is always horrible and it seems they're making me feel physically ill. Is that possible? I am a full time mom, wife,small business ownerand I have a part time job and I'm taking care of my teenage niece. I know getting tonsils removed can be a hard recovery but does this sound like something anyone else would be ready to jump on doing after experiencing them? Ty guys!!!

by Katy Barboza on Dec 7, 2015 | 5:41 PM

Nasty little things!

I used to have these occasionally as a kid, but never knew what they were or told anyone. I just took one out yesterday with the pointy part of the floss sticks and took one out a few minutes ago. I'm 28 and haven't seen these since I was a kid and I hope to never see them again. Luckily no bad breath though.

by Brittany on Dec 3, 2015 | 11:10 PM

I used to have this as a teenager- so horrible! I totally eliminated dairy and started to eat a whole diet and I haven't had them since. Try taking out all forms of dairy and see what happens. Give it a month or two. :)

by Paul on Nov 28, 2015 | 11:21 PM

I think what javier is describing is to bend over at the waist or whatever, at sink level, and face sideways so the water stays in your mouth but you can gargle maybe one side at a time and they will come out? i feel i have tried this option too and it almost seems like the more i try to clean mine out (usually with a bent tip syringe with watered down mouthwash) well... it worked for a while and i was getting them less and less but now it seems like the more i do it the more inflamed my tonsils get and the more often they occur. i don't understand why i can't get them gone for good. i have been working on them for the past few weeks because i noticed i can taste the terrible smell on the back of my tongue and i have tried a lot of stuff and it's not working. thinking of trying therabreath system but idk if that will work either. I DO have a postnasal drip problem constantly. always have... the doc told me i have chronic sinusitis when i was a teen.... well i'm 28 i'm tired of these yucky smelly things! hope i can figure out how to get rid of them once and for all. I had the idea to maybe water down some H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) and gargle that once learning about therabreath... i was thinking it would both promote them to bubble out, but also it would oxegenate the mouth and tonsils.... do you think this would help? it's yucky kinda when i gargle this mixture because then my whole mouth foams bc it wants to oxegenate everything....... takes a while to wear off.... i really don't know... i'm at the point of trying any crazy thing that might work whether it makes sense or not.

by sam on Nov 28, 2015 | 12:04 PM

javier's method

how the hell do you gargle with your face parallel to the sink?
i mean, it makes sense that they would come out easier, tonsils probably have a structure that catches stuff moving from the front of your mouth th the back of your throat, so if you COULD gargle water from the back of your throat moving forward, itd probably be easier to dislodge them...
gravity... and the other laws of physics.
when you gargle, do u start with a normal gargle by leaning your head back and then moving forward or what? make a youtube video or something lol

by roooo on Nov 25, 2015 | 9:49 AM

I've had these for most of my adult life. I'm 58 & long ago I discovered I could use a small metal crochet hook to pick them out. The hook works well because of the curved (hooked) end. I also will use the wand to press upwards form the bottom of the tonsil upward, which will push out most of the hidden stones. Luckily my gag reflex isn't strong. I do think that as the yrs passed that the gag reflex lessened due to becoming less sensitive from cleaning my tonsils.I sit at my lighted make-up mirror so I can see more clearly. I do recommend a small crochet hook about a 2.0 -2.5 mm.

by SJ on Nov 25, 2015 | 3:07 AM

thnx soo much 4 this...gr8ly helped me!! i have had them for a few years but just recently i noticed where they came from....SO gross....i usually just get them out with my finger but be very sure to have a tasteful drink next to u cuz they r TERRIBLE when they cum out....hopefully i can get my tonsils out soon:)

by Mya on Nov 24, 2015 | 7:13 PM

This really helped me!

by tom on Nov 24, 2015 | 10:26 AM

I'm so happy I found this and the more I read the more I found out that people my age have been having this problem. I'm 18 and I get sick very very easily. I just got sick last month and was out of school for 3 days. I have always coughed up those tonsil stones and about 30 minutes ago I was looking in the mirror and realized there was still white stuff in the back of my throat. I did this because my mom was telling me how bad my breath smelled. I knew it had been smelling recently but not that bad. Now I'm self concious and just want my tonsils taken out. But my dentist said not until next summer!! I think I'm going to ask to get them out very soon because I don't like feeling this self concious. Especially around my boyfriend and friends.

by Taylor on Nov 13, 2015 | 11:33 PM


These reviews have been most helpful. I have been coughing up these white things since I was a kid. Now at 34 I decided to google it and behold. I used to think they were priced of cartilage. But upon smelling them I knew. I'd never seen them in my throat before but after looking at YouTube I found them! Well one deep cave. I have also been having an earache and TMJ issues on that side as well. I hadn't coughed one of these things up in years until I recently did a juice detox. I tried the Qtip and finger pushing method with no success. So I used the blackhead extractor tool and it worked great. It has a little hole at the end and I just pushed until I widdled away at it. However now I have a big hole left. I did the gargling upside down thing and it did work. You kind of have to create a suction in the back of your throat when you bend over. And a small piece of food came out. So I'm sure this would have eventually say and become a stone later. I have been also using a combination of warm salt water and clear Listerine because of the peroxide in it. But my morning breath was def down today. Keep posting it really helps!

by In progress on Nov 10, 2015 | 7:15 AM

I'm so glad I am not the only one. I hate these things, I find that if I press on the edge that they will push out. Does anyone else think that the use of an albuterol inhaler may contribute? I have had these things since I was a kid.

by FannyJeanMeowMeow on Nov 2, 2015 | 4:22 PM

I'm so glad I am not the only one. I hate these thinks, I find that if I press on the edge that they will push out. Does anyone else think that the use of an albuterol inhaler may contribute? I have had these things since I was a kid.

by FannyJeanMeowMeow on Nov 2, 2015 | 4:21 PM
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