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Sinister Effects of Smoking on Your Tonsils
August 15, 2019  |  Airdrie Springs Dental Blogs

Sinister Effects of Smoking on Your Tonsils

Tobacco use is life-threatening. This is definitely not news. You’ve
probably encountered countless cases of irreversible lung damage,
cardiovascular diseases and various types of cancers in organs such as bladder,
cervix, colon and rectum, larynx, liver, esophagus, kidney and ureter,
pancreas, larynx, stomach, trachea, and bronchus. In fact, the harmful effects
of smoking are so multi-faceted it’ll take us quite some time to discuss them
all. But the point has been made—one cheap stick has expensive consequences.

Among the risks of massive tobacco abuse lie the detriments of
nicotine to your tonsils. Though not as well-known compared to respiratory
diseases, smoking has equally adverse effects to the first barriers of the oral

Your tonsils work round-the-clock. These lymphoid tissues are
located at the side of your throat, the back of your tongue while the adenoids
are located found high up your throat, behind the nose. Tonsils help prevent
germs and other microbes from entering the body through your oral cavity and
nose. They also contain an abundant number of white blood cells responsible for
killing bacteria.

What’s inside the stick?

Cigarettes contain around 7,000 chemicals—the majority of which
are highly poisonous while over 60 are known to be carcinogenic. Among these
deadly substances is the infamous nicotine, a colorless yet highly noxious
compound responsible for smoking’s highly addictive properties. Take a look at
this long yet partial list of what goes inside a small stick of cigarette:

  • Toluene – used as an industrial solvent
  • Carbon Monoxide – interferes with blood vessels
  • Arsenic – commonly found inside insecticides
  • Ammonia – known for its use in cleaning products and pesticides
  • Hexamine – triggers asthma attacks, coughing and chest tightness
  • Methane – fatal gas that hampers breathing
  • Methanol – used as rocket fuel
  • Butane – prolonged butane exposure affects the cardiovascular and central nervous system
  • Hydrogen Cyanide – highly poisonous and volatile compound

The first victims

Where does one puff the cigarette smoke? You guessed it right.
Of course, smokers use their mouths to satisfy their cravings fully. And as one
of the initial barriers of the body and oral cavity, your tonsils are the first
ones to take a beating. Smoking inhibits normal salivary flow which leaves you
with a dry mouth. In turn, the lack of saliva encourages bacterial growth.

Tobacco also decreases the mucosal immunity responsible for
regulating inflammatory cells. As well, the harmful chemicals present inside
one cigarette stick profoundly affect the oral microflora, encouraging the
presence of bacteria putting your gum and dental health in jeopardy. Studies
made in 2010 to 2011 already concluded how smoking aggravates the tonsils.
Cases of abscess-filled tonsils and recurring tonsillitis are reported along
with risks of post-tonsillectomy bleeding. To add fuel to the fire, your
smoking also weakens your immune system making you susceptible to infections.

Dental and gum health

Before bacteria hijack your tonsils, they first take refuge in
your swollen gums and plaque-filled teeth. Smoking reduces the blood flow in
your mouth while hampering the production of saliva. When this happens, your
oral cavity becomes a breeding ground of microorganisms, most of which are
detrimental for your teeth and gums. Cuts, ulcers, and scratches take longer to
recover. This is also why recovery from dental procedures takes longer compared
to non-smokers.

In a more worrying note, smoking leads to inflamed gums and the
loss of bone and tissue surrounding your teeth. When this happens, your teeth
eventually loosen and become more prone to tooth decay. Tooth extractions might
be needed to prevent complications.

Before picking up your next stick, think about your hardworking
tonsils. They might be equipped in handling bacteria and germs, but they don’t
stand a chance against toxic and lethal chemicals present in tobacco. 

If you'd like to schedule an appointment or ask a question with us at Airdrie Springs Dental, please click here or call 587 317 4161