Constant low grade irritation can cause the breakdown of our defenses

Sharon McLaughlin RDH, BS, MM

Any parent who has been the focus of a small child’s effort  to get their attention can relate.

“Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy  Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy…”

They understand the pressure to give in.

In the same way, our body’s immune system is not resistant from caving in under the constant pressures of irritants and toxins introduced into the body. These irritants can come in many forms, but the biggest culprit is tobacco smoking.

Although there are many harmful effects of smoking, the mouth in particular is at risk. Smoking initially causes the defense mechanism known as keratinization. This is when a layer of more fibrous tissue (not unlike a callous) forms on the gums, lining of the cheeks, lips and palate. Keratinization is recognizable as a blanching of these tissues. It is the body’s way of protecting itself.
As scientifically elegant as our body’s defenses are, they eventually break down over time. Cells become unable to replicate in a healthy and self-renewing manner and disease sets in.  The nicotine in tobacco is addictive and is not easy to give up but consider these stats:
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