Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry

Are Enlarged Tonsils Affecting Your Child’s Dental Health?

Are Enlarged Tonsils Affecting Your Child’s Dental Health?

Reviewed by Dr. Henry Martinez, DMD

📖 Reading time: 4 minutes.

In our previous blog, Is Mouth Breathing in Kids a Big Deal? we discussed how breathing through the mouth rather than the nose could lead to various health and dental issues in children.

Today, we’re moving a step further into a closely related topic that many parents are concerned about: enlarged tonsils and their impact on a child’s dental health and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).

In this blog, we’ll discuss what enlarged tonsils are, why they occur in children, and how they can affect your child’s dental health. We’ll also provide some tips on how to manage and prevent enlarged tonsils to ensure your child maintains good oral health.

What Are Enlarged Tonsils

Tonsils are lumps of tissue on both sides of the back of the throat, acting as the first line of defense against viruses and bacteria 🦠.

However, enlarged tonsils, or what doctors refer to as tonsillar hypertrophy, is a condition where the tonsils become abnormally big. This condition can cause difficulty breathing, swallowing, or sleeping.

Chronically swollen tonsils can obstruct the airway, forcing a child to breathe through their mouth. Constant mouth breathing alters the natural development of their facial bones and teeth and leads to mouth breather face.

What Causes Enlarged Tonsils in Kids

Several factors can lead to enlarged tonsils in children, including:

  • Viral and bacterial infections: Repeated sore throat, strep throat, and other infections can cause the tonsils to swell.
  • Chronic conditions: Issues like allergic reactions, sinus infections, and even obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to the problem.

Enlarged Adenoids and Dental Problems

Just like your child’s tonsils, the adenoids can often become swollen. It can happen if the adenoids grow too big instead of shrinking as your kid gets older. Swollen adenoids can cause health issues, such as breathing problems and ear infections.

Effects of Enlarged Tonsils & Adenoids

  • Respiratory tract infections such as cold: Prolonged breathing through the mouth increases chances of ENT infections.
  • Middle ear infections and glue ear: Enlarged adenoids prevent the flow of air to and from the middle ear, resulting in fluid buildup there, causing glue ear.
  • Jaw misalignment and open bite:  Mouth breathing alters the natural position and shape of facial bones, which may cause a misaligned jaw or an open bite.
  • Long-term sleep apnea: Enlarged tonsils can press down on the airway when lying down at night, narrowing it and causing sleep apnea.

Common Symptoms

Pay close attention to signs that might indicate your child has enlarged tonsils, such as:

  • Snoring and sleep disturbances, including pauses in breathing (signs of sleep apnea).
  • Persistent sore throat and difficulty swallowing.
  • Noticeable swollen tonsils, sometimes with white or yellow spots.
  • Bad breath not related to dental hygiene.

How To Help a Child Sleep With Enlarged Tonsils

  1. Elevate the head: Use an extra pillow to prop their head up, facilitating easier breathing.
  2. Humidifier: Keep the room moist to alleviate throat pain and improve breathing.
  3. Consult a specialist: A pediatrician or throat specialist can provide guidance and treatment options. If your child has chronic tonsillar hypertrophy, a tonsillectomy may be recommended

How Your Pediatric Dentist Can Help

It is not always easy to determine when enlarged tonsils become a health concern. For example, how “bad” does snoring have to be to raise a red flag 🚩? Is surgery the only treatment for enlarged tonsils?

Regular checkups with a pediatric dentist can help monitor the size of the tonsils and determine the best course of action.

Treatment Options

There are different treatment options for enlarged tonsils, depending on the severity and underlying cause. These options include:

  • Medications: Antibiotics or nasal sprays can help reduce inflammation and treat infections.
  • Adenoid surgery: A procedure to remove most of the adenoid tissue (adenoidectomy)
  • Tonsil surgery: In severe cases, a specialist may recommend removing the tonsils through a procedure called a tonsillectomy.

Ways To Prevent Enlarged Tonsils

Here are a few tips to help reduce the risk of having enlarged tonsils:

  • Encourage good hygiene habits: Teach kids to wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing food or drinks with others.
  • Avoid irritants: Exposure to smoke, pollution, and other irritants can increase the risk of respiratory infections.
  • Promote proper breathing habits: Encourage your child to breathe through their nose rather than their mouth.
  • Be proactive: Treat allergies and sinus infections which can contribute to tonsillar hypertrophy.

Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry: Your Partner in Oral Health

Regular checkups are essential for monitoring your child’s dental health and identifying potential issues like enlarged tonsils.

At Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry, we provide comprehensive checkups and treatments for children in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Henry Martinez, and his friendly team are dedicated to helping your child achieve a healthy smile.

If you are searching for a ‘top pediatric dentist near me’ book a consultation with our team. Call (602) 935-7427 or complete the online booking form!