Tonsil stones (tonsillolith) are malodorous white, yellowish or greyish calculus that form in the crypts (pockets) of some people's tonsils. People who have had their tonsils removed do not get tonsil stones. The stones are made out of a combination of mucous, skin cells, mineral excretions from the tonsils and bacteria. They are harmless, but can be bothersome and are a factor in bad breath. People who have larger pockets in their tonsils are more prone to developing tonsil stones. Because tonsil stones are generally not considered a serious condition, there has not been a lot of research to record how frequently they occur. A case report in The Nurse Practitioner: The American Journal of Primary Health Care, vol. 31 no. 7, states that "tonsilloliths are not an uncommon finding."
Gargle with warm salt water twice a day to loosen tonsil stones and to kill bacteria.
See a doctor about getting a prescription for an anti-bacterial mouthwash to help prevent the formation of new tonsil stones.
Go to the doctor if the tonsil stones are causing you discomfort. A doctor can remove the stones using forceps.
Talk to a doctor about undergoing a procedure called laser cryptolysis, which closes the pockets in your tonsils.
Discuss the possibility of having your tonsils removed with your doctor. A tonsillectomy is only performed in cases where tonsil stones are so severely embedded in the tonsils that removal is difficult or impossible without causing damage to the tonsils.
Do not attempt to remove tonsil stones at home. Self removal can result in the stones being pushed deeper into the tonsils, damage to the tonsil tissue and infection.
Tips and warnings
- Do not attempt to remove tonsil stones at home. Self removal can result in the stones being pushed deeper into the tonsils, damage to the tonsil tissue and infection.
- The Nurse Practitioner: The American Journal of Primary Health Care vol. 31 no. 7; Nicole E. Myers BS, PA-S James M. Compliment MSN, CRNP J. Christopher Post MD, PhD Farrel D. Buchinsky MD; July 2006
- A Giant Tonsillolith, Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery, Volume 60, Number 3; Sohit Kanotra, Sonika Kanotra, J. Paul; Oct. 2008
- A Textbook of Diseases of the Nose and Throat; Francke Huntington Bosworth; 1896