Tonsil Stones: Causes and How To Prevent It.

What is Tonsil stones?

Tonsil stones is a condition similar to tonsillitis but instead of seeing white puss appear on the tonsils, you’ll see little collections that look similar to stones (which is where they get their name). They appear as a white or yellowish hard mass, ranging in size from very small to very large. The largest recorded tonsillolith, at 14.5 centimeters (cm) was recorded in 1936.

Tonsil stones are either yellow or white in colour and they typically form in various pockets located on your tonsils. Sometimes they can form elsewhere in the back of your mouth (where ever debris can collect within a small space), but they are typically located on your tonsils.
In terms of your overall health, they aren’t that threatening, they’re actually almost harmless. The thing with them is that they can cause a number of annoying and discomforting symptoms, such as bad breath and swollen tonsils.

It’s for this reason why people desperately want to get rid of them.

So that you can avoid unpleasantness that comes with this type of infection, I’m going to outline the main causes of tonsil stones in this article.

And if you’re unfortunate enough to have already gotten tonsil stones, then don’t worry I’ll show you how to deal with tonsil stones too.

Causes of Tonsil Stones


Bacteria is the primary cause of tonsil stones. Unfortunately, bacteria build-up can result from day to day eating. Because the food that you eat has to move past the tonsils on the way down your throat, it can cause significant bacteria to build up over time.

This is especially true if your tonsils have larger sized crypts than most as you’ll be more vulnerable to it. If left long enough the bacteria content will grow so large that your immune system will be unable to control it, resulting in infections like tonsillitis and tonsil stones.

As there isn’t much you can do about the size of your tonsillar crypts (apart from surgery), it’s very important to clear out your mouth of this bacteria on a daily basis. And you can do this by taking good care of your oral health.

Poor Oral Health

If you aren’t taking measures to properly clear out your mouth of harmful bacteria and debris then you will almost definitely get an infection. As many people overlook doing what their dentist tells them to do, this is the most common cause for getting tonsil stones.

In order to prevent this, I recommend that you do two things: brush and floss your teeth at least three times and gargle some type of antibacterial mouthwash. By doing this on regular basis you’ll keep the small pockets of space around your mouth clean of bacteria and debris.

Poor Hydration = Low Oxygen Environment

Another big reason why stones can grow in your tonsils, or in the surrounding areas, is that it offers the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The stones that you might suffer from that cause bad breath and end up growing in these low oxygen environments because bacteria thrive in such an environment.

Thus, if you are someone that experiences dry mouth symptoms as well, then you are more likely to experience tonsil stones as the saliva in your mouth isn’t able to deliver oxygen.

Not only that but your saliva is also responsible for controlling the activity of harmful bacteria within your mouth. So if you aren’t staying properly hydrated then its ability to do this will be reduced.

There isn’t an exact amount of water that everyone should drink each day, no matter what you might have heard (the 8 glasses per day shtick). In order to get the exact you personally need to get, you need to take into consideration your health, your weight, your activity level and your diet.

Only after doing this will you get an accurate daily measurement.

And don’t worry if this sounds really complicated. There are a number of calculators found online that you can use.

How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones

Antibacterial Gargle

As I said above, I recommend that you gargle some sort of antibacterial mouthwash every day to help you clear out your mouth of harmful bacteria. This is exactly what you can do with salt water as it has antibacterial properties.

The solution can also help you break down the tonsil stones and shake them out of place as well. It’s extremely beneficial and well worth taking the extra minute or so each morning to do it.

All you need to do is take a tablespoon of the salt and add it to a glass full of clean cold (or warm – it’s up to you) water. Begin swirling this around your mouth, making sure it reaches your tonsils, for about 15 seconds. After that, spit it out and repeat with the rest of the glass.

If you don’t like the thought of this then you could use apple cider vinegar instead. It also has antibacterial properties, so would fulfill the same purpose, but it’s also very effective at fighting off fungus as well as bacteria and can help reduce inflammation around the tonsils.

So you could argue that it’s more beneficial.

Besides brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, gargling one of these each day is possibly the best thing you can do to prevent and get rid of your tonsils stones.

Treatment of tonsil stones

Tonsil stones can usually be treated at home. They often detach during vigorous gargling.
However, if you see tonsil stones in the back of your throat but do not have any symptoms, you do not have to try to remove them.
People can use a cotton swab to loosen the stone and gently press on the tissue immediately surrounding it. They should position the swab behind the stone and push forward, pushing the tonsil stone toward the front of the mouth instead of into the throat.
Be careful not to push too hard, as you risk injuring the back of your throat.
Do not use your finger or anything pointed or sharp to try to remove a tonsil stone. If tonsil stones hurt or make it difficult to swallow, people can try gargling with warm salt water.

A doctor should be consulted if:

  • a person has symptoms of tonsil stones, but no stones are visible
  • removing the tonsil stones at home is not possible, or only a portion of the stone can be removed
  • the tonsils are red, swollen, or painful
  • pain is felt after removing a tonsil stone at home

 Prevention of tonsil stones

Preventing the growth of tonsil stones completely is almost impossible. For people who have chronic tonsillitis, a tonsillectomy may be the only way to prevent tonsil stones.

However, good oral hygiene, including  frequent brushing and flossing, can help. Irrigating the tonsils and mouth with a water sprayer can remove debris and bacteria, reducing the risk of tonsil stones.

Other conditions affecting the tonsils

A number of other conditions can cause pain in or near the tonsils. A doctor can help determine what causes tonsil stones.
Other conditions that can mimic the symptoms of tonsil stones include:

  • Tonsillitis: If the tonsils are red and swollen and it is difficult to swallow, there may be an infection in the tonsils. Tonsillitis is often accompanied by a fever.
  • Strep throat: This is one type of tonsillitis that can cause intense pain in the throat or at the back of the mouth. Like tonsillitis, strep throat often causes a fever.
  • Gum disease and tooth decay: Pain in the teeth and gums can radiate to the jaw, ear, or even the throat. Untreated infections in the teeth and gums can spread throughout the mouth, and even to other areas of the body.
  • Tonsil cancer: Tonsil cancer, also known as tonsil lymphoma, can cause a sore in the back of the mouth that does not heal. Other symptoms include pain in the ears and throat, difficulty swallowing, and blood in the mouth.

An otolaryngologist, commonly known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor, can treat most tonsil and throat conditions.

summary of tonsil stones

Now that you know why you possibly are getting tonsil stones, I hope that you find it easier to determine what action you need to take to prevent them. In most cases, it will be a problem in your daily oral hygiene routine, such as not flossing or brushing properly which is a relatively easy fix. Just do what I’ve outlined in this article and you will be fine.

However, sometimes the root cause can be something that you aren’t in control of, like having bigger than average tonsillar crypts. This opens you up to more bacteria collection which increases your chances of getting infection. If this is the case for you then just focus on gargling either salt water or apple cider vinegar.

I hope you enjoyed the article and that something I’ve said provides some benefit in your fight against tonsil stones.

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