How to remove tonsilloliths

Updated February 21, 2017

Tonsilloliths, also known as tonsil stones, tonsillar pearls, or tonsillar debris, are calcified masses that form in the pits and crevices of the tonsils. These masses are usually made of debris, food, bacteria, mucous and other foreign items that have got stuck in the crevices of the tonsils. Tonsilloliths often smell foul and resemble small, flat discs about the diameter of a pencil eraser that are either green, white or yellow in colour. Although tonsilloliths are harmless, they do cause bad breath, or halitosis. If you can see tonsilloliths in the back of your throat, you can leave them there, but you may also choose to remove them if they are uncomfortable or you feel they are causing bad breath.

Gargle with warm water and salt. Add one teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. Gargle one gulp at a time for approximately 20 seconds, then spit out into the sink. Continue gargling until all the water is gone. You may see some tonsilloliths being spit into the sink.

Gargle with mouthwash. Place several tablespoons of antiseptic mouthwash, like Listerine, into your mouth and gargle thoroughly for approximately 30 seconds. Spit the mouthwash out into the sink.

Use mouthwash on a swab to remove tonsilloiths. Dip a cotton swab in an antiseptic mouthwash, like Listerine (see Resources). Dip the cotton swab until the cotton is completely drenched.

Gently rub the cotton swab on the back of your throat, playing close attention to your tonsils and the pits in your tonsils. If you see a tonsillolith, pay specific attention to rubbing the mouthwash on the tonsillolith.

Expectorate. Clearing your throat and moving your tongue in order to expectorate fluids from the back of your throat is helpful in removing tonsilloliths. If you feel a tonsilliolith in your mouth, spit it out immediately and rinse your mouth with water.


Tonsilloliths are harmless and do not pose a medical problem if they are not removed.


If your tonsilloliths are accompanied by a high fever, call your doctor immediately.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton swab
  • Mouthwash
  • Salt
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author