Medical Q&As

Tonsils - white lumps present?

I recently found small white solid lumps which were caught in my tonsils. I was just wondering what these might be and how do you prevent them forming?

The tonsils have a pitted surface and the indentations on the surface are called crypts. If a person has very large tonsils these crypts can be quite deep. Sometimes particles of food can lodge in the crypts and give rise to multiple white lumps on the surface of the tonsils. Bacteria and other debris from the mouth can also lodge in the crypts and over time the lumps can enlarge. These lumps can become quite large and firm and can evolve into small stones, which are referred to as tonsilloliths or tonsil stones. Very often these lumps dislodge spontaneously or they can be deliberately dislodged with a toothbrush. In most cases they cause no symptoms and can be safely left alone. Sometimes they can act as a focus for infection in the tonsils and may precipitate bouts of tonsillitis. If they are causing significant ongoing discomfort it might be necessary to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist to have the stones removed or possibly have a tonsillectomy. Regular gargling and careful attention to oral hygiene may help to prevent formation of these lumps.