Tonsil Stones – Why Do They Smell?

July 30, 2009

If you’ve ever coughed up a tonsil stone or accidentally bit down on a tonsillolith, you already know that tonsil stones smell horribly. But why?

The main culprits are anaerobic bacteria that thrive in oxygen-poor environments, according to the founder of the California Breath Clinics, Dr. Harold Katz.

The bacteria are part of a mix that also includes food particles and mucous from post-nasal drip that collect in the tonsil crypts, small pockets in the tonsils themselves. The bacteria produce volatile sulfur compounds that smell like rotting eggs or old socks, only many times worse.

Tonsil stones produce breath so bad that many people who suffer from them are desperate for a solution. At the California Breath Clinics, patients are put on a regimen of oxygenating sprays and rinses, along with nasal sinus drops.

These combat the problem by creating an oxygen-rich environment that kills the anaerobic breath, while the sinus drops stop the flow of mucous that plays a key role in the formation of the tonsil stones.

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