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.

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