Canker sores on the tonsils are most commonly caused by food allergies, sensitivities to certain medications, or bad reactions to toothpastes and other oral health products. In some instances they can also be caused by poor oral hygiene, such as not adequately brushing the teeth, particularly if the trend goes on for months at a time. Though the sores can be painful, they aren’t usually dangerous or contagious and they will usually go away on their own, often in as little as a week. Certain medicated mouthwashes can help reduce symptoms, though, and in really serious situations prescription drugs might also be required.
Canker Sore Basics
Most medical experts describe canker sores as ulcers that develop inside the mouth and throat cavity. They’re usually the most common on the inside of the lip or cheek, but they can grow on the surface of the tonsils, as well. Usually they appear as red or pinkish bumps that can feel sensitive and painful. When they develop on the inside of the cheeks, lips or gums, they're usually the result of biting or injuring the area; when they develop on the tonsils, the culprit is almost always something that was ingested or swallowed. The tonsils sit at the back of the mouth just over the throat opening and tend to be very sensitive.
Food allergies are one of the most common causes of canker sores on the tonsils. Some of the most frequent triggers include strawberries, tomatoes, and other highly acidic fruits and vegetables. In addition, some types of shellfish are also linked to a high occurrence. Individuals who develop these types of canker sores might benefit from keeping track of what they eat shortly before they experience the irritation. This sort of tracking can help identify the cause of the sore so that that particular food can be avoided. Food allergy tests can also help uncover the particular food that causes the sores. Sometimes people will exhibit other symptoms of reaction, such as skin rash or difficulty breathing, but not always; in minor cases, the irritations might be one of the only noticeable symptoms.
Sensitivities to Medication
Sensitivities and allergies to certain types of medications can cause canker sores anywhere in the mouth, including the tonsils. Again, keeping track of what medications were introduced is often one of the best ways for people to help identify which particular medication caused the sore. Antibiotics are one of the most frequent culprits. Even when a person is pretty sure a medication is at the root of the problem, it’s important for him or her to consult a health care professional before trying to fix things independently. Ceasing a drug regimen before it has run its course, particularly where medications as specialized as antibiotics are concerned, can cause a range of other problems.
As a Reaction to Certain Toothpastes
This sort of tonsil irritation has also been linked to toothpaste allergies in some people. The allergic reaction usually happens because of a specific ingredient in the toothpaste, though what exactly that ingredient is can vary from person to person. Individuals who experience an allergic reaction to toothpaste should read the ingredient list closely. Comparing the ingredient list of an allergy-causing toothpaste with one that has not produced a reaction can help identify the canker sore causing ingredient. People who have this sort of sensitivity will often develop sores whenever they are exposed to that particular ingredient, which means that toothpaste may not be the only problem; mouthwashes or other oral care products that contain it will likely lead to similar results.
Poor Oral Hygiene
In some cases, canker sores on the tonsils can result from poor hygiene. Failure to brush one's teeth on a regular basis, for example, has been identified as a possible cause of canker sores, as this can lead to bacterial buildup in the mouth and bad breath. Brushing on a regular basis, using the right type of toothbrush, and applying appropriate amounts of pressure are all important in ensuring adequate dental hygiene and preventing this and other problems.
Canker sores aren’t usually considered a serious medical condition, and unless they’re causing a great deal of discomfort people are usually advised to wait the situation out. Most of the time, they will go away on their own after a week or so. Sores on the tonsils are often more painful, though, and people more commonly seek treatment for these as opposed to those that occur on the lips or cheeks. Sometimes specially formulated antimicrobial mouthwashes can help reduce the swelling, and medicated gargle solutions are sometimes also prescribed. Oral medications like antibiotics might also be necessary, though these solutions are typically reserved for the most extreme cases.