August 23, 2022 3 min read

    Tonsil stones, also called tonsilloliths, are small chunks that form in your tonsils. They cause bad breath. Examples of ways to remove tonsil stones at home include gargling with a saltwater solution or a water pick. If the stones keep coming back or bother you, your provider may recommend surgery.


    What Are Tonsil Stones?


    Tonsil stones are small lumps of food particles and bacteria that get trapped in the crevices of your tonsils. They are also known as tonsilloliths, tonsil rocks, sand traps, or tonsilloliths. After the food particles and bacteria in your tonsils get trapped, they grow into a hard, yellowish, or white, rocklike material. They may stay in your tonsils as they grow larger than a pea. Sometimes they will fall off your tonsils and come out through your nose. You may find them in your mouth, especially in the morning.


    What Are the Symptoms of Tonsil Stones?


    Tonsil stones do not cause any symptoms in most cases. If a tonsil stone blocks the opening of your tonsil, you may have trouble swallowing. This can cause difficulty swallowing solid foods, liquids, or even saliva. You may also feel pain inside your throat. Other symptoms of tonsil stones include bad breath and a sore, red throat. You may also experience pain when you swallow.


    How to Treat Tonsil Stones At Home


    First, try removing the tonsil stones at home before seeing your healthcare provider. You can try gargling or irrigating your tonsils with salt water and other solutions to remove the stones.


    • Gargling


    Gargling can help remove tonsil stones from your tonsils. Try gargling with warm saltwater. Use one teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Mix the salt and water. Gargle every few hours as needed to help remove the tonsil stones.


    • Irrigating


    Flushing your tonsils out with water can help remove some of the tonsil stones in your tonsils. To irrigate your tonsils, you can use a water pick or syringe to squirt water down your throat. Or you can use a small syringe to squirt water into your throat. Squirt the water into your throat until it comes out the back of your mouth. Continue as needed to flush out the tonsil stones.


    When Is Tonsillectomy Needed to Remove Tonsil Stones?


    If you have recurring tonsil stones, you may need to have your tonsils taken out. Doing this is called a tonsillectomy. Your health care provider may also recommend a tonsillectomy if you have other problems with your tonsils. These problems can cause trouble with swallowing, eating, or breathing.




    Tonsil stones are small lumps that form in your tonsils. They cause bad breath. You can try to remove them at home by gargling with a saltwater solution or using a water pick. If the stones keep coming back or bother you, your provider may recommend surgery.


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