TONSIL STONES (Tonsilloliths): Culprit behind CHRONIC BAD BREATH

Tonsil Stones



TONSILS are a pair of round fleshy masses placed on either side at the back of your throat. They get swollen and turn red on infections due to cold, bacteria, fungi, and viruses which makes swallowing difficult and painful.

TONSILS are easily visible when you open your mouth wide up.

Functions of Tonsils –

1) Immunology and host defenses:

T-lymphocytes in the parafollicular region provide cell-mediated immunity against various viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Once the pathogens enter these lymphoid aggregations they are dealt with by IgM and IgG antibodies, which are produced by plasma cells.

2) Sentinels at the portal of the aerodigestive tract:

The crypts in tonsils increase the surface area for contact with foreign substances.

3) Antibody production especially secretory IgA:

B-lymphocytes in the germinal centers of these lymphoid follicles produce antibodies IgA.


TONSIL STONES are also called TONSILLOLITHS (calculus of the tonsil).

They look like pale yellow solidified lumps that might be small to big in size and are seen on the surface of tonsils.

But what is to be noted is that they are not dangerous or life-threatening. It is just a simple condition that occurs in most probably all of us who have tonsils.

The arrow shows Tonsil stones


Tonsillolith (calculus of the tonsil) may be seen in chronic tonsillitis.

The blocked tonsillar crypt causes retention of debris, which consists of inorganic salts of calcium and magnesium (formation of stone).

As mentioned earlier, tonsil stones are formed as a result of tonsil infection.

So, what happens is—

The tonsils in our body function every day to kill bacteria and viruses that come in contact with them. This bacterial entry can be either through the food we eat or the air we breathe.

But, over a point when we are infected by a humongous mass of these microorganisms, our tonsils give up and in turn get infected.

And now, naturally, they lose the ability to fight back which is why all the bacteria, fungi, or viruses accumulate in the depressions or crypts present on the surface of tonsils.

Further, some amount of food particles also gets stuck up in these crypts while swallowing as it rubs through its surface.

Also, the dead cells, dental contents, mucus, and saliva gets trapped along.

The bacteria, fungi, and viruses now feed on these calcium contents and form hardened stones called calcified stones which are present within these crypts/pits— they are called the TONSIL STONES.

These stones are sometimes so tiny that you would barely know that you have them and sometimes so large that they need to be taken out of our system.

And because they are a combination of bacteria, fungi, and virus breeding on food particles, mucus, and saliva, it is very obvious that it bears a really bad odor which makes our mouth smell bad. Well, that could be one sign of tonsil stones.



  • Excessive viral, fungal, or bacterial infections
  • Infection due to other microorganisms
  • Infection causing swelling in our tonsils
  • Oversized tonsils, rub off on the food and air, which constantly keeps them in contact with microorganisms.
  • Lack of oral hygiene – we should clean our teeth with mouth rinsing and gargling twice a day so that we make sure to flush out most of the microorganisms from our mouth.



  • The first comes first, it has to be the swelling of the tonsils
  • Followed by irritation in the throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • Cough
  • Foreign body sensation in the throat
  • Ear pain as the infection spreads
  • Burning sensation and pain in the throat
  • As a result of all of the above, tonsil stones are formed as a pale yellow mass that sometimes comes out of the mouth and is very foul-smelling.
  • This is followed by bad breath

Since tonsil stones are not harmful, they do not have preferable diagnostic or treatment methods. But any which way we have to get rid of them.

For this, we can either treat them with mild acids or salts to melt them or remove them manually ourselves or with the help of a doctor followed by a certain set of medication.

They can be naturally removed by certain home remedies. Nevertheless, you might as well look for a doctor if your tonsil stones are way too big.

Some of the home remedies you can try with no harm are—

To first powder the tonsil stones,

  •  We dilute vinegar in water and gargle. In doing this, its acidic pH will break and melt the stones.

If your tonsils are visible enough and if it on the outside itself such that you can easily take them out, only then

  • Take a cotton bud, soak it in betadine 2% solution, and very gently press the anterior tonsillar pillar.
    In doing so, the tonsil stones usually get extruded out of the tonsillar crypts.
    Make sure that you don’t touch its surroundings as it can carry the infection to that region as well.

Also, rinse your mouth with Betadine 2% solution after this process so that there is no room for the spread of infections.

If your tonsil stones are tiny yet visible, then

  • Coughing purposely for a while can help you to throw out these stones.

Having said that, it is always a better choice to get yourself checked with your doctor if you continue to feel odd or uncomfortable.

Here, your doctor might go for a laser shot assisted by some antibiotics.


1) Conservative management:

Retrieval of these tonsil stones and chemical cauterization of crypts with topical silver nitrate application.

2) Tonsillectomy:

In cases of persistent pain, halitosis, or foreign body sensation.


  • Eat healthy food as the major part of the bacterial infection channels through the food we eat. This further causes tonsils and then tonsillitis or tonsil stones.
  • Build your immune system
  • Stop smoking since most part of the carcinogens from the smoke enter the tonsils and infect them.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and use dental floss to maintain good oral health.
  • Drink an ample amount of water so that the microorganisms are flushed off.


It’s time, if you have a bad breath or if you are feeling uncomfortable in your throat, to take up the necessary treatment procedure.

And in any condition, don’t fail to follow the above precautionary measures.



This blog including information, content, references, and opinions is for informational purposes only.

The Author does not provide any medical advice on this platform.

Viewing, accessing, or reading this blog does not establish any doctor-patient relationship.

The information provided in this blog does not replace the services and opinions of a qualified medical professional who examines you and then prescribes medicines.

And if you have any questions of medical nature, please refer to your doctor or the qualified medical personnel for evaluation and management at a clinic/hospital near you.

The content provided in this blog represents the Author’s own interpretation of research articles.

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