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A 42-year-old female asked:

What are tonsil stones?

4 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. David Kam
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 37 years experience
Tonsilliths: They are bacterial colonies that form in tonsillar crypts. A common bacteria is actinomyces. It can give you a foreign body sensation in throat and halitosis.
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 26 years experience
Tonsil stones: Tonsil stone - tonsilloliths - collection of bacterial & cellular debris in tonsillar crypts,
Dr. Nicole Frommann
Urgent Care 23 years experience
Gargle: Initially you can try gargling with warm salt water and/or mouth wash. If that doesn't help then try taking a long moist swab and manually remove them (like a long q-tip). If you still can't remove them then a doctor can do it for you.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology 45 years experience
Remove them: Get a penlight and a mirror and half-unbend a paper clip. You'll get good at it. A water pick is even better. If it's truly a nuisance, a otolaryngologist can laser-resurface your tonsils.

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Lexington, KY
A 21-year-old female asked:

Can tonsil stones be harmful?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Danny Proffitt
Family Medicine 44 years experience
No! Offensive? Yes!: Tonsil stones are offensive due to odor. They may cause discomfort and possibly and infection could result from them. Mostly it is odor and cosmetic.
A 34-year-old member asked:

How do I know I have tonsil stones?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Bernstein Joel
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 61 years experience
Look in the mirror: Tonsilloliths or so called stones in the tonsils are usually collections of food particles in the crypts (grooves) on the surface of the tonsil. You can see them in the mirror as small white round collections. They may represent bacterial colonies, food particles or small retention cysts. They often produce a foul odor to the breath and may be a minor indication for tonsil removal.
A 33-year-old member asked:

What are tonsil stones? Are they dangerous?

4 doctor answers7 doctors weighed in
Dr. Russell Faust
Dr. Russell Faustanswered
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 30 years experience
Not dangerous: Tonsils "stones" - tonsil liths - are a collection of bacteria, sloughed cells from the lining of the oral cavity, and microscopic particles of food, that accumulate in the pits of the tonsil surface. They often are irritating, and contribute to bad breath. They are not dangerous. Some people have luck with a "water pik" to regularly remove them.
CA
A 34-year-old member asked:

How can tonsil stones be recognized?

2 doctor answers12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Russell Faust
Dr. Russell Faustanswered
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 30 years experience
Just look: With the right light and a goo mirror, tonsil "stones" can be seen by opening your mouth and looking in the mirror. They are usually whitish nodules that fill little pits - "crypts" - in the surface of the tonsil.
A 31-year-old member asked:

How are tonsil stones removed?

3 doctor answers17 doctors weighed in
Dr. Russell Faust
Dr. Russell Faustanswered
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 30 years experience
Various ways: I have known patients who were bothered by their "tonsil stones" who used a tooth-pick to clean out the tonsil stones; others reported that they used a "water pik" with great success. Try also daily gargling with salt water (saline) containing manuka honey - "nature's antibiotic".

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Last updated Oct 24, 2017

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