Hookahs Wreak Havoc on Oral Health

Have you heard of water pipe smoking? Commonly referred to as a hookah, smoking tobacco from a water pipe is a growing trend in the United States with 2.3 million Americans partaking in pipe smoking. According to a recent article from the Dental Tribune, many believe that this form of tobacco use is less harmful than cigarettes, but a recent study has shown that hookah smoking is associated with several head and neck conditions, including periodontal disease and oral cancer.

The study was conducted at Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, where 20 published articles on the health effects of waterpipe smoking were reviewed. Researchers were able to conclude that water pipe smoking is associated with greater inflammation, Candida, periodontitis, dry socket, blood chromium and nickel levels, premalignant lesions, oral cancer, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, edema in the vocal cords, and others. The authors also emphasized a need for education in raising the awareness about these health effects, suggesting that dentists can play a pivotal role in advising patients of the dangers.

Hookah bars or cafes are gaining in popularity around the U.S., particularly among college aged individuals. They serve as a social gathering place, and because of the misconception that hookahs are safer than cigarettes, they have an appeal to 18-22-year-olds. Tobacco is also often flavored, increasing the attraction. The World Health Organization has stated that water smoking sessions have the potential to expose the participant to more smoke over a longer period than with traditional cigarette smoking. They suggest that water pipe smokers may actually inhale the equivalent of 100 or more cigarettes during one session, depending on the duration and number of puffs.

“This study sheds light on the common misconception that smoking from a waterpipe is somehow safer than smoking a cigarette,” stated Dr. Michael Glick, editor of the Journal of the American Dental Association. “Whether you are smoking a cigarette, an e-cigarette, a cigar, or tobacco from a waterpipe, smoking is dangerous not only to your oral health but to your overall health.”

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