The effect of cigarette smoking on whole stimulated salivary flow rate and pH
Introduction: Saliva is a significant biological fluid involved in the maintenance of good oral health. Cigarette smoking exerts detrimental effects on oral health and has been shown to affect saliva, but with no consensus regarding its effect on the quantity (flow rate) and quality (pH) of the saliva. Aim: To assess the effect of cigarette smoking on the flow rate and pH of whole stimulated saliva. Method: A case control study was conducted using patients who presented at the UWC Oral Health Centre patient sifting/waiting area. The patients who agreed to participate were assessed for inclusion into the study until the sample size was (n=60), stratified by smoking (n=30) and non-smoking (n=30). Stimulated saliva samples were collected in specimen jars by asking patients to chew a sterilized rubber band for 5 minutes and spit the contents into the specimen jar provided at 1 minute intervals. The specimens were transported to the laboratory within 30 minutes to measure the salivary quantity and pH. Results: No statistically significant difference in the salivary flow rates was found between smokers and non smokers (p=0.5273). Smokers showed a statistically significant decrease in their pH compared to non smokers (p=0.028). Conclusion: Cigarette smoking reduces the salivary pH, thereby producing an acidic environment.