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Am J Dent. 2005 Aug;18(4):301-4.

Morphologic changes in the microcirculation induced by chronic smoking habit: a videocapillaroscopic study on the human gingival mucosa.

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University of Palermo, Department of Odontostomatological Science "G. Messina", via Del Vespro 129, 90127 Palermo, Italy.



To analyze the gingival characteristics of microcirculation in vivo and to evaluate the effects of smoking by means of computerised videocapillaroscopic techniques.


35 healthy non-smokers and 35 healthy smokers were examined. The characteristics of gingival microcirculation were examined using computerized videomicroscopic techniques. For each subject, visibility, course, tortuosity and any images characteristic of capillary loops, besides the possible presence of microhemorrhages, the average caliber of the capillary loops and the number of capillary loops visible per square millimeter were evaluated. The investigation was non-invasive and repeatable for each subject.


The investigation of gingival mucosa revealed capillary loops with a course both parallel and perpendicular to the surface: close to marginal gingiva, the tops of the capillary loops often appeared as evenly distributed dots or commas; close to the papilla, microcirculation more frequently ran parallel to the surface, and its characteristics were similar to nail microcirculation. In smokers, it was possible to underline capillaries of a smaller caliber (P< 0.001) and a higher number of detectable capillaries (P< 0.001). An important correlation between the capillary tortuosity, close to the papilla, and the smoking habit (P< 0.001) was observed. This study has shown that the smoking habit represents a real risk factor for periodontal disease, which greatly affects microcirculation.

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