November 4th, 2020
Have you been experiencing a sore throat that just doesn’t seem to go away? Do you find yourself removing a hard, white stone from your mouth and you can’t figure out why they keep appearing? If so, you may have something going on with your tonsils.
Tonsils are the lymph nodes found at either side of the back of the throat. Their job is to keep your body fluids balanced. The tonsils are covered with a pink lining with small pits in them called crypts. These crypts can collect mucous, food and other debris. This can lead to feeling like something is stuck in your throat, sore throat, and bad breath. This can also lead to tonsil stones which are foul smelling clumps in the mouth. The tonsils are also made up of white blood cells that help fight off infections. They are a part of mucous-associated lymph tissue (MALT) which creates a response when infectious agents are detected in the body. They communicate with the B and T cells of the immune system. The B cells make antibodies IgA that helps to protect you. T cells kill any invaders that enter your body. Essentially, your tonsils are your body’s first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. Despite, these unique qualities, the tonsils can become infected. This is known as tonsillitis. Symptoms of tonsillitis include:
- Sore throat
- Red and enlarged tonsils
- Trouble swallowing
- White or yellow film on tonsils
- Swollen lymph nodes in neck
- Bad breath
Take a look at the different types of tonsils:
- Palatine tonsils- these are the most commonly known tonsils. They are found in the back of the mouth on either side of the throat.
- Lingual tonsils- are at the back of the tongue. They contain lymph nodes and immunocytes. The immunocytes cause the immune system to wake up if they are hit with infectious agents.
- Adenoids- are found in the throat, behind the nose. If these become enlarged they can cause the stoppage of airflow.
- Tubal tonsils-are found in the roof of the nasopharynx at the opening of the middle ear tube. They contain lymph nodes.
Your tonsils are checked during your comprehensive or periodic dental exam. The palatine tonsils are examined for size and color. The following grading system is used during the evaluation:
- Stage 0- tonsils have been removed
- Stage 1- normal size and no inflammation present
- Stage 2- tonsils extend behind the pillars
- Stage 3-tonsils are swollen and easily seen beyond the pillars
- Stage 4- tonsils extend to the midline of the mouth. This is the worst stage of tonsil sizing
The tonsils are a concern because if they are enlarged they can lead to sleep apnea and breathing issues. During sleep apnea a person starts and stops breathing while asleep. Removing enlarged tonsils can improve quality of sleep, reduces the risk of sleep apnea, and improve breathing.
Tonsil stones are created when the crypts within the tonsils have debris that has calcified. Tonsil stones can be the cause of bad breath. To prevent them, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day. This removes bits of food and bacteria before they have a chance to reach the tonsils. If you do experience tonsil stones, it is recommended that you rinse with mouthwash to kill the bacteria in the mouth as well as freshen your breath.
If you are experiencing enlarged tonsils or tonsil stones feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.