Tonsilloliths, also known as tonsil stones, are amorphous white or yellow deposits that can be found on or within the tonsils. Your tonsils are a pair of soft tissue that can be found at the back end of your throat [1]. 

A common occurrence for people who have tonsil stones is being completely unaware that they have them! Tonsil stones are not always visible and can range in size, from as tiny as a grain of rice, to as large as a grape [2]. 

This condition is rarely associated with more serious health problems. However, it is possible for stones to become more massive in size, causing your tonsils to swell, and they often have an unpleasant odor [1,3].

Tonsil Stone Symptoms 

Even if some tonsil stones are not visible, they can cause noticeable symptoms. This condition can manifest itself as the following signs and symptoms [4]:

  • White or yellow debris on the tonsil
  • Ongoing cough
  • Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Adenoids infection
  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat

Tonsil stones of a smaller size, which are more common than large ones, may not manifest themselves with any symptoms.

What Do Tonsil Stones Smell Like?

Tonsil Stones

When the stones form, they emit a foul odor because they serve as a breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria, and these bacteria produce foul-smelling sulfides [5].

What Causes Tonsil Stones to Form?

Tonsil crypts are crevices, tunnels, and pits that exist between your tonsils and in your mouth. Various types of debris, such as dead cells, mucus, saliva, and food, can become trapped and accumulate in these pockets as a result of friction. As a result, tonsil stones form, and bacteria and fungi consume this buildup, which results in the production of an odor [6].

Some people may only have a single tonsil stone, whereas others may have numerous smaller formations on their tonsils.

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the formation of tonsil stones, including the following:

  • Chronic sinus issues
  • Chronic tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils or tonsil infection)
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Large tonsils
  • Weak immune system

Why Do I Get Tonsil Stones If I Brush My Teeth?

Tonsil stones are not always caused by poor oral hygiene, but they can be prevented by following good oral hygiene habits.

They are thought to be caused by poor oral hygiene, which is a common misconception. In contrast, even those who brush and floss their teeth and take other precautions to protect their teeth and gums can develop tonsil stones. 

Nevertheless, keeping your mouth clean with regular brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and gargling can help reduce bacteria and remove particles from your mouth, which can help to minimize or prevent the development of stones [7].

Do Tonsil Stones Go Away on Their Own?

You may be completely unaware that you have tonsil stones for long periods of time. In the course of normal eating, drinking, and oral hygiene habits, they may subside or disappear entirely. 

Tonsil stones are usually dislodged on their own without any assistance [8]. It is possible for a person to cough out or feel a stone dislodge before swallowing it.

On the other hand, if you have persistent stones that appear to be growing in size, you are advised to consult an otolaryngology specialist.

How Do You Get Rid of Tonsil Stones?


Despite the fact that the vast majority of tonsilloliths are completely harmless, many people prefer to have them removed due to the halitosis (bad breath) or discomfort they cause. From over-the-counter medications to surgical removal procedures, there are a variety of treatment options available.


Tonsil Stones

To treat tonsil stones, antibiotics may be prescribed in some instances. Taking antibiotics can help decrease the number of bacteria present in the body that contributes to the development and growth of tonsil stones [9].

Bacterial agents have the disadvantage of failing to address the underlying cause of the stones while also having the potential to cause side effects. Moreover, because antibiotics should not be used for an extended period of time, the tonsil stones will almost certainly recur after you stop taking them.


Depending on how giant tonsilloliths have grown or whether they are causing persistent pain or symptoms, minor surgical procedures may be recommended.

A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the tonsils from the body. This procedure may be carried out with the aid of a scalpel, laser, or coblation device [10].

It is debatable whether or not to perform this surgery in order to remove tonsil stones from the mouth. When doctors recommend tonsillectomy for large tonsil stones, they typically do so only when the condition is severe and chronic and after all other treatment options have been tried and failed.

Coblation Cryptolysis

Coblation cryptolysis is a process in which no heat is generated. Radio waves, on the other hand, convert a salt solution into ions that are charged. These ions have the ability to sever tissue when they come into contact. 

Coblation cryptolysis works in a similar way to lasers in that it reduces tonsil crypts without the burning sensation [11].

Laser Tonsil Cryptolysis

During this procedure, a laser is used to eliminate the tonsillar crypts where tonsil stones tend to accumulate. During this procedure, local anesthesia is frequently used to ensure patient comfort. In most cases, there is little discomfort and recovery time required [12].

Home Remedies

Naturally, removing tonsil stones may be possible if the stones are small and you first notice them. The primary causes of tonsil stones are bacteria and infection, and therefore, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory treatments may be beneficial in their removal.


Chewing carrots aids in the production of saliva as well as the activation of natural antibacterial processes. Tonsil stones may be reduced or eliminated as a result of this treatment.


Onions are believed to have potent antibacterial properties, according to conventional wisdom. They may be beneficial in the prevention and elimination of tonsil stones if consumed.

Apple Cider Vinegar or Any Vinegar

Use the diluted solution to gargle with. It is believed that vinegar, due to its acidic content, has the ability to dissolve stones.


A number of studies have demonstrated that garlic possesses antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It may have antibacterial properties and may prevent bacterial growth and infection [13].


Yogurt with fruits

Tonsil stones are caused by bacteria and eating yogurt that contains probiotics may help to combat this bacteria.


The acidic content of apples may be beneficial in the fight against bacteria that cause tonsil stones.


When you cough up a tonsil stone, you may discover that you have tonsil stones for the first time. Depending on the size of the stone, coughing may be trialed in some instances to remove it.

Manual removal

It is not recommended to remove stones by hand with rigid items such as a toothbrush. Because your tonsils are delicate tissues, it is essential that you proceed with caution when removing them. It is possible that manual tonsil stone removal will be dangerous and will result in complications such as bleeding and infection.

If you are compelled to try something, it may be possible to press the tonsil stone out with a cotton swab gently in the event that the tonsil stone is visible. Proceed with caution, as if the procedure is carried out aggressively or if the stone is of greater size, it may result in additional infection. 

Following the use of this method of tonsil stone removal, gargle with warm saltwater immediately afterward. The procedure should only be carried out if the stone is small and easily accessible. 



Gargling with salt water vigorously can help to relieve back of the throat pain and may also aid in the dislodging of tonsil stones if they are present [14]. It is also possible that salt water gargles will help to change the chemistry of your mouth. 

Tonsil stones emit a foul odor, which can be reduced by using this remedy. Gargling with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water for a few minutes will be beneficial.

Essential oils

Certain essential oils have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Myrrh and lemongrass are just a few of the ingredients. 

Tonsil stones may be reduced or eliminated with the use of these supplements. Prepare the solution by diluting the essential oil in a carrier oil and placing one or two drops on a toothbrush before brushing them. 

Make certain that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for each oil you use. Because of the high concentration of bacteria in this toothbrush, it is recommended that you refrain from using it in the foreseeable future.

It is likely that the majority of these natural remedies will be effective only on smaller tonsil stones or will help to prevent them from forming.

Tonsil Stone Prevention

If you have tonsil stones, they may occur on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of infection. These procedures include the following steps:

  • Exercising proper oral hygiene, which includes brushing your teeth after eating and removing bacteria from the back of the tongue when you brush your teeth
  • Consuming plenty of water to maintain hydration
  • Gargling with a saltwater solution
  • Smoking cessation

Most importantly, follow the advice and tips provided by your health provider. Plus, it may be best to seek professional advice instead of relying on home remedies!

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional

Editorial References And Fact-Checking

  • Babu B, B., Tejasvi M L, A., Avinash, C. K., & B, C. (2013). Tonsillolith: a panoramic radiograph presentation. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR7(10), 2378–2379.
  • Bamgbose, B. O., Ruprecht, A., Hellstein, J., Timmons, S., & Qian, F. (2014). The prevalence of tonsilloliths and other soft tissue calcifications in patients attending oral and maxillofacial radiology clinic of the university of iowa. ISRN dentistry2014, 839635.
  • Family Health Team. (2020, September 22). Tonsil Stones Might Be Causing Your Bad Breath. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from
  • Bamgbose, B. O., Ruprecht, A., Hellstein, J., Timmons, S., & Qian, F. (2014). The prevalence of tonsilloliths and other soft tissue calcifications in patients attending oral and maxillofacial radiology clinic of the university of iowa. ISRN dentistry2014, 839635.
  • Ferguson, M., Aydin, M., & Mickel, J. (2014). Halitosis and the tonsils: a review of management. Otolaryngology–head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery151(4), 567–574.
  • Torborg, L. (2015, December 9). Tuesday Q and A: Self-care steps may help prevent tonsil stones from returning. Mayo Clinic News Network. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from
  • Bamgbose, B. O., Ruprecht, A., Hellstein, J., Timmons, S., & Qian, F. (2014). The prevalence of tonsilloliths and other soft tissue calcifications in patients attending oral and maxillofacial radiology clinic of the university of iowa. ISRN dentistry2014, 839635.
  • Tonsil Stones (Tonsillolith): Causes, Symptoms, Removal & Treatment. (2022). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from,you%20develop%20a%20bacterial%20infection.
  • Tonsillectomy: Treatment, Risks, Recovery, Outlook. (2022). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from
  • Chang, C. Y., & Thrasher, R. (2012). Coblation cryptolysis to treat tonsil stones: a retrospective case series. Ear, nose, & throat journal91(6), 238–254.
  • Krespi, Y. P., & Kizhner, V. (2013). Laser tonsil cryptolysis: in-office 500 cases review. American journal of otolaryngology34(5), 420–424.
  • Ankri, S., & Mirelman, D. (1999). Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic. Microbes and infection1(2), 125–129.
  • Huynh, N. C., Everts, V., Leethanakul, C., Pavasant, P., & Ampornaramveth, R. S. (2016). Rinsing with Saline Promotes Human Gingival Fibroblast Wound Healing In Vitro. PloS one11(7), e0159843.

Dr Faisal is a certified Medical Doctor currently carrying the role of a Senior Medical Officer in the Orthopaedic Surgery Department of his local hospital. With his vast experience and knowledge in the medical field, Dr Faisal is well-equipped to share educational content that helps readers improve their health and wellness. During his hospital shifts, he diligently cares for and treats patients under him. And during his spare time, he enjoys crafting health and wellness content that inspires readers to make positive changes. LinkedIn