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Med Oral. 2004 May-Jul;9(3):197-203.

Evaluation of keratinization and AgNORs count in exfoliative cytology of normal oral mucosa from smokers and non-smokers.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Facultad de OdontologĂ­a, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.



In smokers with clinically normal buccal mucosa,cytological changes such as increased keratinization, and higher nucleolar activity have been observed. In these studies the cells for cytological smears were obtained with a wooden spatula. Our objectives were to evaluate the depth of cytological smears of oral mucosa obtained with both a brush (endobrush) and a wooden spatula, and to compare the degree of keratinization and the nucleolar activity in smokers and non-smokers.


We obtained cytological smears of clinically normal lateral tongues of 30 smokers and 30 non-smokers using both a wooden spatula and endobrush. The samples were dyed with Papanicolaou and the AgNORs.


With the wooden spatula we found a greater percentage of enucleated superficial epithelial cells (P = 0.016) and deeper cells were obtained with an endobrush (intermediate cells) (P = 0.035). The smokers showed a greater percentage of enucleated superficial cells with both techniques, however this difference was significantly greater with Endobrush (P = 0.005). The average of AgNORs in the nucleated cells was greater in smokers(3.83) than in non-smokers (2.79) (P = 0.003).


The Endobrush allows the clinician to obtain deeper cells of buccal mucosa. Smokers with clinically normal mucosa show a greater percentage of keratinized cells and a greater nucleolar activity, suggesting that cigarette smoking influences the cellular activity of the mucosa of the lateral tongue.

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