Bad Breath? You May have Tonsil Stones

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Bad Breath? You May Be Having Tonsil Stones


Scour the internet for information on causes of bad breath (halitosis) and you will get a number of reasons like gum diseases, irregular brushing and flossing of teeth, intestinal disorders, smoking, dry mouth, etc. What is often missed out is the fact that tonsilloliths or tonsil stones are also a potent cause of repulsive mouth odor.

Tonsil stones are formed when the crevices and folds in and around the tonsils harbor bacteria (most of which may be anaerobic), food debris, sheared mouth lining and other unwanted objects. These coalesce to from white or cream colored calciferous mass that gradually grow in size, sometimes as large as a small pea. Anaerobic bacteria in the lumps produce gases like hydrogen sulfide and mercaptan which causes unpleasant mouth odor that does not allow you to socially mix in your group.

Causes of Tonsilloliths

One of the main reasons for getting tonsil stones, which mostly affects adults, is unhealthy oral hygiene. If you are regular in your dental checkups, it is likely that presence of such stones would be nipped in the bud. However, because a tonsil stone is harmless or does not cause discomfort unless it becomes too large, it is often ignored, even if a person suffers from bad breath. Only when a person visits his physician due to throat discomfort may the presence of such a stone(s) be detected.

How to Get Rid of Tonsil Stones?

Happily, tonsil stone treatment is not much of a hassle. With care you can do it at home; physician needs to be consulted only in extreme case. Let us start with the easiest way first. For superficial accumulation, you can try your toothbrush (use it gently) to dislodge them.

Gargling Them Out

Remember the tonsil stones contain calciferous material. Vinegar can dissolve them. Dilute vinegar with water and gargle repeatedly 4 to 5 times. Lemon juice is also effective.

Physical Extrication

Use a clean q-tip or a cotton swab. Sometimes your finger will also do (remember to wash your hands well) as you can actually feel the stone. Press the tonsillar surface around the stone upwards. As you push the tissues around the stone, it will be squeezed out.

Repeat the process with extreme caution until the stone is fully exposed. It will not be difficult to remove it now. Also, depending upon the size, it could be sucked away by using a medicine dropper.


Strictly speaking, removing of tonsil stone in almost any case can be done without a surgery. However, in chronic cases where a person gets these stones once too often, it is advised that the tonsil surface in the buccal cavity be smoothened out so that the fissure in the soft tissue surface are ironed out, thus removing niches that support stone formation. This procedure, known as laser cryptolysis, takes about half an hour and does not require hospitalization.

Once removed, ensure proper oral care to avoid getting the tonsil stone again.

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