It’s well-known that smoking will stain the teeth and put the smoker at risk for oral cancer. But only recently have scientists started investigating what it does to the inside of a tooth. We’re experienced providers of root canal therapy at Bayberry Dental Care in Tinley Park and we’ve been able to save many teeth that would have otherwise been extracted. But a new study shows that smokers face additional challenges combatting dental pulp infections.
Pulpitis, or dental pulp inflammation, is an immune system response that isolates harmful bacteria. It can be triggered by a dental injury or by an infection. One of the immune system’s core components is the antimicrobial peptide, which is an amino acid that kills bacteria. However, pulp infections often prove difficult to fight, and if they progress, they can cause pain, bad breath, and facial abscesses.
A recent study found that smokers lack antimicrobial peptides in their dental pulp. It was already known that smokers had weakened immune systems and were more vulnerable to gum infections, but now we know they suffer more recurring pulp infections, as well. We will continue to work hard to prevent the spread of pulp infections, but we want patients to understand why smoking complicates their treatment. We also wanted to pass along the researchers’ observation that antimicrobial peptides sometimes grow back after people quit smoking.
Kathleen M. Falsey, D.D.S., operates Bayberry Dental Care at 8014 West 171st St, Tinley Park, Illinois, 60477. To schedule an appointment, call 708-802-8300 or visit Bayberry Dental Care and fill out a contact sheet.