Tonsillitis and oral health


Tonsilitis is an inflammation of the tonsils which are two masses of lymphoid tissue on either side of the throat. They play a role in fighting infection that may use the oral cavity as a gateway into the airways. In some cases, they can get overwhelmed and henceforth get infected and inflamed resulting in the plethora of symptoms that characterize tonsillitis.

Signs and symptoms

These include;

  • Sore throat
  • Red tonsils
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ear-ache
  • Fever and chills
  • Difficult swallowing

What causes tonsilitis

Tonsilitis is caused by both bacterial and viral infections which are not ordinarily pathogenic in the mouth for example Streptococcus family of bacteria, adenoviruses, influenza viruses, herpes simplex viruses, and so on.

The disease can be either acute where it lasts for less than seven days, recurrent where it keeps coming back up to several times in a year or chronic where an episode can go on for months at a time.

Due to the highly contaminating nature of the causative agent, tonsillitis can be easily spread and contracted through airdrops, sharing toothbrushes or utensils with infected people, or through kissing an infected person.

Managing tonsilitis

When one has tonsillitis, it is important that they maintain a rigorous oral health regimen to prevent episodes from recurring. They should brush their teeth a minimum of twice a day, floss, and also use a prescribed mouth wash.

It is also important that they address any oral diseases they may have for example gingivitis as these can trigger the disease and prevent it from healing.

Tonsillitis is best managed by an Ear Nose and Throat specialist who will prescribe medication and further definitive treatment. For symptomatic relief, you can use warm saline rinses three times a day.