Toothaches are often caused by problems in dental pulp. We at All Coast Dental in Pacific Beach are happy to assist patients and would rather save a tooth by performing a root canal then extract and replace it. But there are certain circumstances in which the internal health of a tooth may be compromised, and new research indicates that one of those circumstances is if the patient smokes.
Dental pulp inflammation (pulpitis) occurs when a tooth is injured or infected. The inflammatory response is triggered by the immune system as a means of limiting the spread of infection, concentrating white blood cells, and making cell membranes more permeable to antimicrobial peptides. An antimicrobial peptide is a molecule that latches onto and kills disease-causing bacteria, including the ones that secrete acid in the mouth. But smoking makes the immune system less effective. It was long-established in medical literature that smokers have high rates of gum disease, and now it appears that their dental pulp also lacks antimicrobial peptides.
Root canals are generally successful at removing infected dental pulp, but smokers’ suppressed immune systems make it easier for infections to return. We’ll use antibacterial treatments to increase a root canal’s likelihood of success, but we also want to share with patients that the study found antimicrobial peptides sometimes return when a patient stops smoking.
Drs. Julie and Joseph Boulos operate All Coast Dental at 2180 Garnet Ave, Suite 1-K, Pacific Beach, California, 92109. To schedule an appointment, call 858-270-4904 or visit All Coast Dental and fill out a contact sheet.