Tonsil Stones and Bad Breath – Know the Relation

If you have noticed bad breath and irritation along with a whitish mark present at the back of your mouth, then there is a high chance that you have tonsil stones. A characteristic smell is noticed when you have tonsil stones.

Tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths, are calcified structures that develop in your tonsils. They appear as small, hard, white or yellow lump present at the back of your throat.


The tonsil stones are small and they cause no harm. But as they grow bigger, they may cause discomfort, irritation, earache, tonsillitis, sore throats, and bad breath.

Let’s try to understand tonsil stones and bad breath relationship in detail and how to get past of this problem.

Symptoms of tonsil stones

Usually, tonsil stones are smaller but larger the tonsil stones, more severe are the symptoms. When the tonsil stones grow bigger, they can also interrupt with swallowing of food. Here are some troubles related to tonsil stones –

  • White or yellow spots appear on the tonsils.
  • A sore throat.
  • Swollen lymph glands on each side of the jaw.
  • Bad breath.
  • A red throat.
  • Earache or infection.
  • Changes in the voice.
  • Swollen tonsils, in severe cases coated with visible white specks of pus.

What are the causes of tonsil stones?

Tonsils are the first line defense of the body and also protect the lung from foreign objects. Bacteria, dead cells, mucus, food debris, and other materials get trapped in the crevices present in your tonsils.

These materials slowly accumulate and calcify, eventually forming tonsil stones (tonsilloliths). (1)

Tonsil also consists of lymph nodes that filter for bacteria and viruses while producing white blood cells and antibodies simultaneously.

People, who suffer from chronic tonsil inflammations or repeated turns of tonsillitis, are often more prone to tonsil stones. Bad breath or halitosis that assists a tonsil infection is a primary indicator of a tonsil stone.

Can tonsil stones cause bad breath?

Tonsil stones have a characteristic bad smell that is caused by the accumulation of sulfur-producing bacteria and debris that get accommodated in your tonsils. These often lead to bad breath. But this can be improved with good oral hygiene.

Tonsil stones can be extremely smelly because they contain a high amount of sulfur. This smell is recognized when a person with tonsil stones breathes out from the mouth.

The researchers have found that 75 percent of people that had strangely high amounts of sulfur in their mouths they did have tonsil stones. (2)

Diagnosing tonsil stones

Tonsil stones can be diagnosed by your doctor first by examining your throat and manually removing the stone. In certain cases, an imaging study such as an X-ray or CT scan may be required to confirm the diagnosis and to get a better view of the tonsil stones.

Prevention of tonsil stones

The tonsil stones can occur again without proper treatment and if proper oral hygiene is not maintained on a regular basis. Here are some steps you can take to prevent the tonsil stones:

  • Practice good oral hygiene, including the back of your tongue while brushing your teeth to clean the bacteria off your tonsils.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Avoid smoking and other tobacco products.
  • Rinse your mouth regularly with a mouthwash that is devoid of alcohol content.
  • Gargling with lukewarm saltwater.

Home remedies to deal with tonsil stones

Most tonsil stones are harmless, but many people want to remove them because they can cause discomfort and an off-putting bad breath.

Sometimes surgically removal of the tonsils also known as tonsillectomy is the most effective way to prevent tonsil stones and any other problems you may have with the tonsils. Here are some treatment options for removing tonsil stones –

  • Gargling vigorously with salt water have proved to ease throat discomfort and may even help you to remove some tonsil stones. It may also help you to get rid of the bad odor tonsil stones.
  • Energetic coughing dislodges the tonsil stones and can help you to get rid of stones.
  • You can scrape off your tonsil stones if stones are visible to you, you may be able to remove it with your finger or a cotton swab.
  • Eating yogurt can help you to fight with the bacteria causing tonsil stones.
  • Apple cider vinegar has acidic content and is supposed to be able to break down the tonsil stones.

Conventional treatment for tonsil stones

Removing tonsil stones by yourself can be risky and may lead to complications, like bleeding and infection. Consult your doctor to get your tonsils removed.

Minor surgical procedures are suggested if stones have grown too large or causing pain with persistent symptoms. Here are some conventional treatments your doctor may offer:

  • Laser tonsil cryptolysis is a method to break the tonsil stones and eliminate the crypts where tonsil stones lodge using a laser. This procedure is typically performed using local anesthesia. (3)
  • A tonsillectomy is one way to get rid of all tonsil stones and other problems related to tonsils. In this procedure, tonsils are removed surgically by a doctor. (4)
  • Antibiotics may help to manage tonsil stones in some cases. They can help to reduce the bacteria counts that play a crucial role in the development of tonsil stones and bad odor.
  • Coblation cryptolysis is a method in which radio waves are used to transform a salt solution into charged ions and then these ions can pass through tissue. This procedure reduces tonsil crypts without and burning sensation or pain. (5)


Tonsil stones are a prevalent problem. It shows a range of symptoms and can even turn into serious complications. Practicing good dental hygiene and staying hydrated can help you fight against tonsil stones and the bad breath caused by them.


If they are causing extreme discomfort or you’re concerned about them, then consult your doctor. Sometimes tonsils are recommended to be removed if the problems get severe.

Tonsils are like the appendix. You need it for your immune system, but on the other side, you can live without it if they are causing trouble.


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