Tonsil Stones Causes – What Causes Tonsil Stones?

April 21, 2011

Tonsil stones are caused when dead cells, mucous and bacteria collect in the tonsil crypts, small pockets in the tonsils that trap and retain debris. Over time, this debris calcifies, or hardens, into tiny stone-like objects that are usually white, off-white, or yellowish-white in color.

Many people who have tonsil stones can actually see these white objects when they grow large enough to protrude from the tonsil pockets. Other symptoms include a feeling of something being trapped in the back of the throat, swelling of the tonsils, a sore throat, trouble swallowing, and even ear pain caused by the fact that the tonsils and ears share neural pathways leading to the brain.

The most common symptom of tonsil stones – and the one that sufferers complain about the most – is persistent and very serious bad breath. This is caused when cellular debris and mucous begin to putrefy, a process caused in part by the presence of anaerobic bacteria that thrive in the kind of low-oxygen environment that’s typical of the tonsil crypts. These bacteria produce metabolic byproducts that contain a strong concentration of sulfur-based compounds that smell like rotting eggs or unwashed socks.

Treatments for the stones range from salt-water gargles to antibiotics to surgical removal of the tonsil stones. Another approach that has met with considerable success at the California Breath Clinics uses oxygenating mouthwashes or rinses to counteract bacteria and a nasal sinus spray to stop post-nasal drip and dry up the flow of mucous into the tonsils. To see if this approach works for you, try this tonsil stones starter kit from TheraBreath.

Tonsil Stones – Causes and Treatment

August 7, 2010

Tonsil stones, or tonsilloliths, are caused when anaerobic bacteria and other debris, including dead white blood cells and mucous from post-nasal drip, accumulate in the tonsils in tiny pockets called the tonsillar crypts, where they build tiny, calcified stone-like objects. Tonsil stones are usually off-white or cream in color and while usually small, can reach the size of a peppercorn.

While people who have tonsil stones often complain about the sensation of having a foreign body trapped in the rear of the throat, the most common complaint associated with tonsil stones is that of chronic bad breath. This bad breath is caused by volatile sulfur compounds like hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan, which are produced by the anaerobic bacteria in the oral cavity. These compounds typically produce a strong odor reminiscent of rotting eggs or old, unwashed socks.

Because these anaerobic bacteria thrive in an oxygen-poor environment, targeting these anaerobic bacteria is one of the most effective treatment methods for tonsil stones and the odor they cause. The use of an oxygenating rinse or oxygenating spray usually neutralizes these anaerobic sulfur-producing bacteria on contact. Nasal sinus drops can also eliminate the mucous caused by post nasal drip, eliminating a food source for the bacteria as well as the mucous that contributes to the formation of the stones. recommends this Tonsil Stones Starter Kit as an effective way to combat tonsil stones and the bad breath they cause. The kit contains oxygenating tablets and an oxygenating rinse that neutralize anaerobic bacteria in the mouth and tongue, as well as a nasal sinus spray that is effective against post-nasal drip.

According to an article by Dr. Harold Katz, founder of the California Breath Clinics, clinical tests conducted at his Clinics in Los Angeles and San Francisco resulted in a significant reduction or complete elimination of tonsil stones in patients following the Starter Kit treatment regimen.

Tonsil Stones Hit Mainstream Media

October 9, 2009

Tonsil stones, the small globs of mucus, dead cells and other oral debris that collect in the tonsillar crypts, have hit the mainstream media. An article authored by Elizabeth Svoboda and first published in the New York Times on August 31, 2009, examines the causes and consequences of the stones, including their propensity for causing particularly offensive bad breath when anaerobic bacteria in the oral cavity feed on the stones and release foul-smelling sulfur compounds as byproducts.

Tonsil stones are apparently common, but no one knows for sure how many people suffer from them worldwide. According to a 2007 French study cited by Svoboda in her article, roughly six percent of participants had calcified stones. Dr. Harald Katz, a dentist in Los Angeles and the author of the Bad Breath Bible, suspects the incidence of tonsil stones in the adult population to be much higher, in large part because the number of tonsillectomies performed has declined significantly since the operation’s heyday in the 1950s and 1960s.

While a tonsillectomy almost always puts a permanent stop to tonsil stones, most doctors view surgery to remove the tonsils as a last resort solution for most adults. Gargling with a non-alcoholic mouthwash and using a Waterpik or other oral irrigator to remove the stones are frequently recommended therapies. Katz also recommends the use of an oxygenating oral rinse to kill anaerobic bacteria in the mouth, along with a nasal sinus spray to reduce the post nasal drip that feeds mucus to the tonsil crypts. He bundles the products in a tonsil stones starter kit sold at his website,

The full text of Svoboda’s article, “In Tonsils, a Problem the Size of a Pea”, is available here.

Tonsil Stones – How To Remove Them

August 7, 2009

Treating tonsil stones is essentially a two-step process. In the first step, the tonsil stones are removed from the tonsil crypts, the pocket-like areas in the tonsils where bacteria, food particles and post-nasal drip collect and ultimately lead to the formation of stones.

Besides bad breath, the sensation of having a foreign body stuck in the back of the throat is for many people one of the most maddening symptoms of tonsil stones. Once the stones are removed, there are effective therapies (Step 2 of the treatment process) to prevent the return of tonsil stones.

But where does one start?

Coughing or massaging the throat area under the lower jaw and near the back of the throat can frequently dislodge tonsil stones. If your tonsil crypts are too deep for this method to work, you may need to try dislodging the stones using your finger (wash your hands thoroughly), a toothbrush or cotton swab. These can be used to massage the tonsils and push the stone out of the crypt.

If you have a particularly strong gag reflex, inserting a toothbrush or swab so far back in the mouth may be uncomfortable. An option in this case is to use an oral irrigator. An oral irrigator shoots a thin, pulsed stream of water that can be used to massage gums, clean between the teeth (an alternative to flossing), or to irrigate the tonsil crypts and dislodge tonsil stones.

Oral irrigators can eject a stream of water that is under considerable pressure, so be sure to start on the lowest setting and work up from there as needed if you intend using the irrigator to clear your tonsil stones.

Oral irrigators can be purchased in drug stores or Big Box stores like Wal-Mart. Popular brands like Waterpik and QuickBreeze are also available from Amazon and other well-known online retailers.

If push comes to shove, you may find you’re unable to remove your existing tonsil stones without the help of a healthcare professional. In this case, consider a visit to your dentist or Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (ENT).

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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