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Your Tonsils Are Swollen - Should You See Your Doctor or Dentist?

Posted on 10/25/2016 by Dr. Kelsey Ullsmith
A woman suffering from painful swollen tonsils.
Swollen tonsils can be uncomfortable, painful and irritating. Swollen tonsils do not always mean strep throat. In fact, your tonsils can become inflamed for a variety of reasons ranging from allergies to a sinus infection.

Your tonsils are in your mouth, technically they are in the throat, but some believe that because of where they are located means that you should visit a dentist if you are experiencing problems with your tonsils. This is not accurate.

Actually ENTs or ear, nose and throat doctors are more qualified to address issues of the tonsils.

What Are Tonsils?

So, what exactly are tonsils; what purpose do they serve; and do I need them? Your tonsils are located in your throat, though they are part of the mouth they have nothing to do with your teeth.

Tonsils are soft masses of tissue that are located on either side of the throat. Their purpose is to help fight off infections. They vary in size and shape from individual to individual.

You can look in the mirror and open your mouth wide, you will see your tonsils on either side of the throat in the back of the mouth.
Your tonsils can become swollen for many reasons. The most common reason is due to post-nasal drip caused by a cold or allergies. Your tonsils can also become inflamed due to either a viral or bacterial infection.

The best thing that you can do for tonsils that are swollen is to gargle with warm salt water 2 to 3 times a day. This will help to sterilize the area, fight infection and also reduce discomfort. You should take care to eat a soft diet free of highly acidic foods. You can take over the counter pain medication to ease discomfort.

If you are experiencing severe pain of the tonsils, fever or see the appearance of white spots on the throat you should contact your doctor immediately.

Please contact us if you have any questions about your oral health.
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