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What Should You Do About Your Tonsil Stones?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Mar 30, 2023

    What Should You Do About Your Tonsil Stones?

    If you have come across this article, chances are, you are most likely to be feeling a tiny bump at the back of your throat. It keeps on bothering you and gets in the way as you speak and as you chew your favorite snack. But what are those really? This article got you covered with all the information you need to know and understand about tonsil stones. 

    Tonsil Stones, Defined

    Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are the small lumps that develop within the tonsils. Unlike your singaw (canker sores), the bumps usually form hard and solid in either white or yellow color. 

    These small pebbles found at the back of the throat are not really painful nor contagious. Some may not actually notice it at first because it is not found at an easily visible area of the mouth. However, some may, later on, feel it as it can cause the specific part to swell. X-rays during dental check-ups and other oral examinations that use x-rays help identify and see it.

    One particular thing about tonsil stones is that they can cause bad breath, which is more common among adults between the ages of 20 and 60. Those who get it often may have repeated cases of tonsillitis and may develop large tonsil stones in the long run.

    tonsil stones

    Causes of Tonsil Stones

    Tonsil stones are the result of all the materials building-up in the tonsils. Normally, you take in small food, dead cells, saliva, and mucus particles that may eventually build up. The material might get trapped in the tonsillar crypts and can eventually solidify. Hence the stone formation. 

    Such materials may involve:

    • Little food scraps and residue
    • Calcium minerals 
    • Bacteria or fungi

    The stones may also occur to someone with other concerns such as bad oral hygiene, chronic sinus problems, oversized tonsils, or even chronic tonsillitis. 

    Symptoms of Tonsil Stones

    Some of the common symptoms pointing you have tonsil stones are as follows:

    • Yellow or white lumps on the tonsils
    • Persistent coughing
    • Sore throat
    • Ear ache (ear pain)
    • Halitosis (unpleasant odor of the mouth)
    • Painful and swollen tonsils
    • Raspy and strained voice
    • Smelly breath
    • Difficulty swallowing 

    There are also some cases wherein symptoms do not take place but there are white gelled clumps forming in the tonsils. This may cause little to no foreign body sensation for the individual. 

    Dental X-rays, scans, and other oral examinations can help identify the development of these stones.

    Treating Tonsil Stones

    Tonsilloliths are generally not harmful. But it causes discomfort and anxiousness because of foul breath. 

    Some possible treatments that can be done at home are:

    Use of Saltwater Gargles or Mouthwash

    Gargling can dissolve, and in time, take out the accumulated small stones. It can also help ease the pain and swelling.

    Manual Removal

    You may also manually remove the stone build-up by using a toothbrush or cotton buds (Q-tip). Be careful not to hurt yourself or hit other sensitive parts of your mouth.


    Coughing it out may also help loosen the stones. 


    Your dentist may prescribe you with antibiotics to heal your tonsils and get rid of the stones.


    For those with more severe cases, a doctor may recommend doing surgical removals by first numbing the tonsil area and following up with one of the following procedures:


    If a person experiences repeated tonsillitis over time, a doctor may consider permanently removing the tonsils to remove the stones, and also prevent other infections that may occur. One needs to stay at the hospital to do this type of surgery. 

    Laser Tonsil Cryptolysis (LTC)

    This is an alternative to the former with less chances of bleeding and pain. Laser tonsil cryptolysis applies the use of CO2 or a diode laser, which makes it less likely for the stones to grow and develop. 

    Coblation Tonsil Cryptolysis (CTC)

    This type of cryptolysis makes use of a wand that reduces risks such as airway fires, burns, and retinal damage.

    Key Takeaways

    Good oral hygiene is the best and easiest way to prevent the accumulation of oral stones. It might not be harmful and may be easily treated, but it may occur again once you do not take care of your oral health. Keep yourself hydrated in order to prevent it from coming back. 

    Learn more about Throat Conditions here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Mar 30, 2023

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