All you need to know about tonsil stones

Apr 23, 2018
11:52 P.M.
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Tonsils work with the immune system and block harmful bacteria entering the body.


Simple Most reported that these small structures can create havoc when tonsil stones are formed on them.

The human body is fitted with various checks to keep it away from harm’s way. However, sometimes it plays host to some odd conditions.

Tonsils are an important part of the human body guarding it against germs. They are small structures on either side of the back of the throat which stop bacteria entering through the mouth.

When tonsils are healthy, the body is healthy. However, when they don’t do their job as expected, the body is under siege by these harmful germs.


These tiny structures are made up of lymphocyte tissue, an infection-fighting tissue with the texture of a sponge.

The tissue can become a breeding ground for tonsil stones, called tonsilloliths. This is a small, hard growth formed on the tonsils that stops the host from doing its job effectively, according to doctors.

Speaking to KSHB News, Dr. Natasha Burgert said, “What happens over time is in those little dips and crevices of the sponge, we get food caught or mucus caught. It kind of gets overrun by bacteria that’s naturally in our throat and it becomes a hard, little ball.”


She added that the functions tonsils perform could also result in bacteria and food turning into the stones.

Experts say that people who have tonsillitis on a regular basis are at a higher risk of getting tonsil stones. Some others who have naturally enlarged tonsils can also develop it more easily than others.

Though tonsil stones are tiny and barely noticeable, there are symptoms one can observe. 

White patches or spots

One can see tonsil stones with the naked eye if they are large enough. However, on noticing white spots on the tonsils, it is better to visit the doctor to confirm it is just tonsil stones and not a more serious problem such as tonsillitis or strep throat.


Bad breath

One of the first signs of a tonsil stone problem is bad breath. Made up of bacteria and food particles, the stones carry a bad odor that results in a foul-smelling breath.

Sore throat

The stones tend to cluster together and cause pain in the throat. It can be uncomfortable to swallow food and drinks.


Ear pain

Tonsil stones can also lead to ear pain because the ear canal and throat are connected and due to the shared nerve pathways between the two ears. 


According to Simple Most, most tonsil stones do not require any treatment, especially if they present no visible symptoms. Doctors will also just leave them alone if they do not bother the person a lot.

In fact, people who experience tonsil stones regularly grow comfortable enough to remove them on their own. However, it is not recommended as it may damage tonsil tissues.

Doctors also suggest a warm, salt water gargle to relieve symptoms associated with tonsil stones.

If the stones get extremely large, doctors may decide to remove the tonsils entirely. However, there is risk involved with the surgery and the patients should discuss the risk factors before going in for the surgery.