Objective: Quid chewing is associated with an increased risk of oral cancer. This study aims to analyze argyrophilic nucleolar organizer region (AgNOR) counts along with Papanicolaou (PAP) staining in exfoliative smears of quid chewers and non-chewers to correlate quid chewing habits with possible early cytological changes in apparently normal buccal mucosa. Study Design: Exfoliative smears were obtained from normal buccal mucosa of 30 male quid chewers and non-chewers. The smears were stained using the AgNOR silver staining technique to evaluate the proliferative activity and PAP for cytological appearance. Results: Statistically higher AgNOR counts were observed in chewers as compared to non-chewers. The difference in the mean percentage of nuclei having ≥5 AgNORs in both groups was statistically significant (p = 0.001). In chewers, PAP showed 77% with class I and the remaining 23% were class II, while the non-chewers showed only class I cytology. AgNOR counts between chewers and non-chewers having class I cytological appearance demonstrated a greater mean AgNOR count in chewers (p = 0.0001). Conclusion: Quid chewing seems to have a definite role in promoting proliferative activity of apparently normal buccal mucosal cells. Exfoliative cytological assessment of a combination of AgNOR counts and PAP has the potential for prediction of early quid-associated cellular changes before the appearance of clinical premalignant and malignant lesions.

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