Imtiaz Ibne Alam
Top Endorsed
  • Pharmacist, Medical Writer, Manuscript Writer, Science Writer, Research Writer

Symptoms and Treatments of Tonsil Stones and Bad Breath

Tonsillolith in mouth

Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths or tonsilar calculi, are collections of calcified material in the back of your throat. They are generally made up of a mixture of bacteria, calcium, old food, and a combination of different kinds of sulfurs.

Tonsil stones cause halitosis (bad breath) and can even result in pain or swelling in the back of the throat if they're really big or if there are many of them.

In this article, we'll explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for tonsil stones.

Causes of Tonsil Stones

There is no definitive evidence as to what causes tonsil stones. They often form when debris, including food particles, dead cells, and bacteria, becomes trapped in the tonsil crypts. The debris accumulates over time and hardens into tonsil stones. Several factors can increase the risk of developing tonsil stones, including poor oral hygiene, chronic tonsillitis, dry mouth, and large tonsils.

These small calcified stones that are produced and stored in the folds of the tonsils appear to be a problem for many people. Often, those that deal with symptoms of tonsil stones wonder for years what is wrong with them and why they are coughing up on occasion. And if there is such a thing as tonsil stones, then why the small particles smell so awful.

Symptoms of Tonsil Stones

If you have been wondering about small particles coming out of the back of your throat, here are some ways to tell if they are tonsil stones:

  • Bad Breath. Tonsil stones are usually accompanied by chronic bad breath. One study found that 75% of people with stones had very high quantities of bad smelling sulfur compounds in their breath.
  • White Stones. Tonsil stones can often be diagnosed by white debris being dislodged from the back of one's throat. This can sometimes happen unexpectedly when a person coughs, but sometimes these small stones must be coaxed out with gentle pressure to relieve discomfort.
  • Tonsil Swelling. Tonsil swelling can be a direct result of these stones. Because the stones are made of calcified debris, they tend to be somewhat rigid, and may cause irritation to the tonsil.
  • Difficulty Swallowing. Some people with tonsil stones describe a feeling of having something stuck in their throat and not being able to figure out what it is. This sensation may cause them to be unable to eat or drink without discomfort. While none of these symptoms are life-threatening, many people search for answers on what causes the stones and what can be done to get rid of them. Treatments vary from home remedies and medical procedures to daily preventive measures.
tonsillolith close up
A close view of tonsillolith with a ruler

Home Remedies to Treat Tonsil Stones

Many online discussions detail the ways people have treated their tonsil stones at home. One popular method is to use two q-tips, one to hold the flap of the tonsil out of the way and the other to apply pressure. By doing this, the tonsil stone is often dislodged and can be disposed of.

Another effective method is to use water, such as a water pick on a low setting or a syringe full of water aimed at the site. While these methods may not be pleasant, they can clear tonsil stones effectively.

No matter the method used, dealing with tonsil stones is a disturbing procedure that most people would rather avoid.

Medical Treatments for Tonsil Stones

Several medical remedies can alleviate discomfort and other issues caused by tonsil stones.

For those suffering from particularly large stones, a doctor may need to use a cutter to remove the stone piece by piece. After the procedure, the area would be rinsed and cleaned well.

Another less invasive technique is to have the surface of the tonsils laser treated. By doing this under local anesthetic, the tonsils are smoothed, leaving fewer places for bacteria and debris to build up.

The most invasive medical treatment involves removal of the tonsils altogether. However, this is not done as much today as in the past because it is now known that the tonsils are an integral part of one's immune system.

How to Prevent Tonsil Stones

The best thing, when dealing with tonsil stones, is to prevent them in the first place. Many who have dealt with tonsil stones have found that treating the problem is better than simply treating the symptoms. By determining what is causing the stones to build up in the tonsils, it is possible to stop the process.

Much success has been found by those who have opted for an oral treatment solution. However, it is essential to avoid using alcohol-based products like mouthwashes and toothpaste, as the alcohol can easily irritate any tonsil stones you may already have.

Instead, pick up oxygenating toothpaste and mouthwash. These include products such as oxygenating toothpaste and mouthwash, sinus drops, and even throat spray. By using these products, bacteria are prevented from growing at the back of the mouth, and tonsil stones are prevented as well.

Brushing the tongue is another effective way to prevent the build-up of tonsil stones. An even better idea is to purchase a tongue scraper that is made specifically for that job. This way, you can scrape away any crud that could otherwise form into tonsil stones.

By trying a recommended daily routine that includes these solutions, you may find that you no longer need home remedies or medical solutions.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, tonsil stones are a common condition that can be effectively treated with home remedies or medical treatments. However, prevention is the best course of action to stop the growth of bacteria and the formation of tonsil stones. By taking preventative measures such as oral treatments and tongue scraping, you may be able to avoid dealing with the unpleasantness of tonsil stones altogether.

By following a recommended daily routine that includes these solutions, you may be able to avoid the need for home remedies or medical treatments altogether.

Remember, it is always best to consult with a medical professional if you are experiencing persistent discomfort or symptoms. Take care of your oral health and stay healthy!

Image sources:

Glacko2021, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tonsillolith, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

⚠️ Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.