Home Tonsil Stones Are Tonsil Stones Contagious?

Are Tonsil Stones Contagious?

by Dr. Joe Morales

Are tonsil stones contagious? Can they be passed or transmitted through kissing or other ways of contact and fluid exchange? Tonsil stones in the throat, also called tonsilloliths are small nuggets of debris on the tonsil pockets or tonsil crypts. So, are tonsilloliths contagious?

How do you get tonsil stones? According to Dr. Alan Greene on his website, tonsil stones are most common in people with poor dental hygiene, and teenagers who have large tonsils. The yellow or white bumps in the throat can cause a lot of discomfort, mostly bad breath. So, if someone has them, can they pass these tonsil stones to someone else?

Are tonsil stones contagious

Are tonsil stones contagious or transmitted orally, via air or contact?

Can tonsil stones be contagious?

Tonsil stones can be contagious and transmitted from one person to another. This however depends on what caused them in the first place. Viral tonsil stones can be passed from one person to another. This is particularly possible with the human papilloma virus (HPV) that is known to affect tonsils in humans.


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Therefore, a patient with viral tonsil stones can transmit them to a healthy person through contact or exchange of fluids, mostly through sneezing and other activities, mostly the following:

  • Through kissing
  • Sharing toothbrushes with a person having tonsilloliths
  • Sharing utensils such as spoons without cleaning them etc.

It is important to note that chances of the virus tonsil stones being contagious or airborne are very minimal and will depend on whether the virus will enter the oral cavity of the other.

Are tonsil stones airborne or transmitted through air?

Whether caused by bacteria or a virus, tonsilloliths can be difficult to transmit through air, mostly through sneezing or by breathing the same air. Or simply by being close to a person who already has them.

When some people talk, small amounts of saliva escape the mouth and can fall on the next person. Such exchange of saliva from an infected person to a healthy one can be a cause of infection. The Tonsil Stone Advisor website notes that it is difficult to dislodge tonsil stones and pass them to another person unless it is done with a lot of vigor.

Can tonsil stones be contagious through kissing?

Health Guide HQ advises that tonsil stones should not be a source of worry even if you kiss. However, there are quite good chances that the bacteria that exacerbate the stones can be contagious through deep kissing.

According to the Better Health Channel, kissing may have some benefits but it also comes with its own side effects. Transmission of a “small number of disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses” has been identified as one of the bad sides of deep kissing.

Tonsil stone illustration

Tonsil stone illustration – Courtesy of WikiHow

The organization also points out that warts, hepatitis B, herpes infection and even tonsil stones can be transmitted through deep kissing. Therefore, it is quite possible for you to get tonsil stones by deep kissing with a person who already has the tonsils.

Precautions to prevent transmission of tonsil stones

Although we have seen that the chances of transmission or the stones being passed on to other people, it is important to take precautions to prevent tonsil stones from growing in your mouth or throat. Here are things to do to prevent airborne or contact transmission.

Avoid sharing spoons

Are tonsil stones contagious through sharing of spoons? Utensils that are used for eating such as spoons, forks and knives can be a medium of transmission of tonsil stone bacteria and viruses. Sharing or using them after an infected person has used them can easily lead to contamination and subsequent infection.

It is highly advised that such items be sterilized or cleaned thoroughly before being used by another person to prevent contamination and infection.

Avoid exchange of saliva and oral fluids

Exchange of oral fluids increase the chances of tonsil stones being contagious. As we have already seen, kissing is one of the major way through which transmission and infection occurs. Mucus and saliva exchange means that the viruses and bacteria are carried from an infected person to a healthy one, putting them at risk of developing the stones too.

Avoid direct contact with an infected person

Direct contact may not make sense, but handshakes and other forms of direct contact mean that the stones can be passed from a host to a healthy person. However minimal, the chances are that saliva and other forms of fluids can be passed from one person to another especially if they have poor oral and general hygiene.

If the bacteria and oral debris – the gritty particles – can lodge onto fingers inserted into the mouth or oral cavity, and end up causing an infection on the other one following a handshake is likely to cause transmission.

As soon as you discover the white bumps or plaque like structures developing on your throat’s tonsils, seek treatment. The stones can cause all sorts of problems, sometimes producing bad smell, being painful when swallowing especially if they grow big and also causing bad breath.

In conclusion, it is acknowledged that tonsil stones are contagious, but the risk of them being passed from one person to another is negligible. Most sources have shown that even with mouth droplets, it is almost impossible to get the stones from another person.

Sources and references

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Rosalind G May 3, 2017 - 8:44 am

I don’t believe tonsil stones are ONLY the result of poor oral hygiene. I think that nobody has just made the connection between tonsil stones and other health conditions. Well, I’ve made the connection between them and and a health condition that affects me.

I’m 46 years old; I’ve never had gingivitis, and the one cavity I’ve ever had was filled during a trip to the dentist when I was twelve years old. I get tiny tonsil stones every now and then now, but from about the years between 2002 until about 2004, I used to get HUGE ones that gave me terrible sore throats (and fits trying to get them out until I figured out a way that worked for me).

I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and started on treatment in 2004. I started law school in 2002. I had been getting sick, randomly, with seemingly unrelated health problems and symptoms for many years, but things didn’t get really bad until I started law school. The sheer volume of information one has to absorb in a short amount of time in law school is like trying to drink out of a fire hose turned on full force.

It was during this time that I started getting the tonsil stones. They were huge and they hurt. And, sometimes, it took DAYS for them to either dislodge by themselves or for me to to get them out, and when it took a long time to get them out I would have to take pain reliever for my sore throat.

But, after I got diagnosed with lupus in 2004 and started being treated the tonsil stones went away (what I get now, from time to time, are so small they don’t really count). As for the tiny ones I get from time to time, I only get them when I’m in a flare – IF I get one at all.

So, no… I do NOT think that tonsil stones are the result of poor hygiene as some dentists think. I also don’t think they’re the result of the combination of the contents of food debris and post nasal drip as some other dentists think. Because of my experiences I think there might be a link between active lupus OR any autoimmune diseases or disorders and tonsil stones. I hope a/some dentist(s) or dental hygienists read this comment and start investigating. Thank you for reading.

Jolish Feb 15, 2019 - 3:22 am

Is tonsil can transmit through air?