What Causes Tonsil Stones? How dangerous is it?

Tonsils Tonsil stones are a type of infection that causes the disease. In the area of the infection, there calcified material accumulates that can be observed in the crevices.

Pain in the tonsil area is what most of the people experience in the process of its development.

There are varieties of causes of these plugs to grow and one of them is infection from microorganisms. They  are also known as Tonsilloliths. Another name for Tonsilloliths is tonsilla calculi.

But the question is what causes tonsils?

There are several types of tonsillitis present in the body but Tonsilloliths occur more frequently in the palatine tonsils. There are also some cases where they are observed in the lingual tonsils.

They are basically composed of calcium in excess, phosphorus, magnesium, ammonia and carbonate. These plugs are painful but are not that severe if treated at the right time.

Most often, people suffering from Tonsilloliths complain of foreign objects feeling in the crypt. This is also one of the causes of bad breath that most of the people observe.

What causes Tonsil stones?


Well! When the question is what causes them? In most of the cases, it is seen that Tonsilloliths occur in adults rather than children.

There is a bacterium that produces sulphur while active and this sulphur producing bacteria are responsible for the growth of plugs.

The accumulation of this sulphur along with several other substances increases the plugs to grow in size and that is when most discomfort can be observed in the patients.

A bacterial infection in the Tonsil stones can make the matter much worse and that is the reason why it is very important for treating them in right time.

In a recent research, it has been found that in most of the cases of them, they are caused by smoking and infection increases as the person continues to smoke.

There are many questions that come into mind whenever the discussion is about them.

One such question is do they always cause bad breath? This is one interesting question and the answer to this question is. Yes they always cause bad breath and the reason behind the foreign particles that accumulates in the sacks of the tonsil stones.

what causes tonsil stoneThese substances such as the sulphur and other substances are responsible for bad breath.

One more question, which frequently arises whenever the concept of Tonsilloliths comes into the picture and that the question is do they cause ear pain?

Yes, in most of the cases they cause ear pain and the reason behind is the swollen glands due to infection and it causes ear pain when the infection persists. They cause swollen lymph nodes.

There is one more question about them and that is can tonsil stones because bleeding? Yes, it is very much possible that it might cause bleeding but this can be seen in the later stages.

When the infection increases, the pain increases and the cavities gets swollen and then the veins begin to get swollen and several tonsil stones symptomsbreaks after a stage, So it is very much possible that they cause bleeding but that is in very severe condition.

One more question that is frequently asked by patients is can they cause dry mouth? This is very complicated but the answer is yes. It is quite possible but one should also know that there are many reasons that can cause dry mouth and the most popular being dehydration.

So there is no need to panic, but it is advisable to consult a doctor if any such incidents occur.

There is one more do they cause cancer? It is very much possible.


There are several Tonsilloliths symptoms. It depends upon the stage of infection and also the severity of the infection. Symptoms might differ from one person to another, but still there are a few common symptoms that patients often observe. Some of them are as follows :

  • Cough is one of the major symptoms. Although cough is caused by varieties of reasons
  • Coughing up in small and smelly lumps
  • Coughing up and the taste is somewhat like metallic taste
  • Choking can be observed in some cases
  • Throat getting closed and a sense of breathlessness.
  • One major symptom is coughing fits
  • Bad breath is one of the major symptoms
  • Swelling that can be physically examined
  • Tonsil stones cause headaches
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Sensation that can be felt in the back of the throat
  • Sometime ear pain can be felt
  • If the condition persists and if ignored tonsil stones cause cancer and there is also certain tonsil stones symptom of lymphoma that should never be ignored and one should immediately consult an ENT specialist.

Video  – Tonsil is removed revealing nest of tonsil stones (tonsilliths) hiding in a pocket of the tonsil. 2.12 min. Watch now!

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Tonsil stones can be diagnosed by a physical examination by the doctor. Swollen tonsils give an idea of the infection. X-rays or CAT can confirm the presence of them in the mouth cavity.

Young man getting his throat checked by male doctor at clinic

Treatment and prevention

In most of the cases that are not that severe treatment is not necessary and these plugs get off easily time. Sometimes doctors prescribed some antibiotic for the patients if any infection is observed in that area.

But in the case of more severity where there are larger plugs, then a small surgery might be required. A small excision is enough to cure that tonsil stones.

There are many home remedies that are very useful in such cases. Most often, people use warm water with salt to gurgle and many times it is seen that these plugs shed off after the treatment with salt warm water.

Grapefruit is a natural medicine that can cure them. In the most severe cases, there might be a need of tonsillectomy in which they are surgically removed.

One should also stop smoking if plugs are there because smoking can increase their growth.

Regular brushing the teeth can also combat less severe Tonsilloliths. Tongue scraping can also be used in such cases.


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  • September 2, 2014
Sarah Scott - January 2, 2018

To anyone reading this article, please be highly wary and critical of the informing you are receiving. There are no citations, the information given is vague (ie. Exclamations like “this and other substances”), the phrasing of sentences is manipulative and the information given from the first through to fifth paragraph is wrong. There is absolutely no association between cancer and tonsil stones, and they are most certainly not causative.

The author evidently does not have a profound scientiic background so I advise readers to be wary of the information presented.

Lyle MacLeod - January 14, 2018

If anyone reading wants some partial relief from the bad breath they are experiencing from the tonsil stones then I recommend you try out a mouthwash with Chlorine Dioxide, and no alcohol – this dries out your mouth making the problem worse.

This Chlorine Dioxide helps fight off and neutralise volatile sulphur compounds that are present within your mouth, which cause your bad breath. This mouthwash wouldn’t eliminate your tonsil stones (unless you gargle really violently) but it’ll let you start off you day better!

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