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Researchers find hookah smoking can lead to serious oral conditions

Article

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.3 million Americans smoke tobacco from pipes, and many of those who smoke waterpipes, or hookahs, believe it’s less harmful than cigarettes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.3 million Americans smoke tobacco from pipes, and many of those who smoke waterpipes, or hookahs, believe it’s less harmful than cigarettes.

However, research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) suggests hookah smoking is associated with serious oral conditions, including gum diseases and cancer.

“We found that waterpipe smoking is associated with serious health problems affecting the head and neck region,” said study author Teja Munshi, BDS, MPH, of Rutgers University. “The public needs to know they are putting themselves at risk. They should be made aware of the dangers of smoking hookahs.”

Related reading: New study shows smokers are at higher risk of losing teeth

The authors conducted a literature review that focused on waterpipe smoking and head and neck conditions. They found waterpipe smoking to be associated with gum diseases, dry socket, oral cancer and esophageal cancer, among other conditions. According to the World Health Organization, smoking a hookah is the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes, based on the duration and number of puffs in a smoking session.

“This study sheds light on the common misconception that smoking from a waterpipe is somehow safer than smoking a cigarette,” said JADA Editor Michael Glick, DMD. “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.”

The American Cancer Society is hosting The Great American Smokeout on Nov. 19, 2015, an annual event that encourages smokers of all kinds to give up the habit. The event asks smokers to quit even for just one day to take a step toward a healthier life.

More on smoking: Study finds secondhand smoke exposure linked to increased dental decay in children

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Millions of Americans still use traditional methods of smoking, but emerging trends in the smoking industry, such as hookah smoking and e-cigarettes, pose danger,s as well. E-cigarettes are devices that turn liquid into a vapor containing nicotine. In an editorial in the September 2015 issue of JADA, authors warned readers of the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, indicating oral health effects of their use have been inadequately investigated.

“Additional research is needed on the impact smoking has on overall health, but it’s clear that smoking of all kinds has the potential to be dangerous,” Dr. Glick said.

Dentists have an important role in advising patients of the dangers of smoking. The American Dental Association has long been a proponent of educating the public about its hazards and has urged for continued research into the adverse health effects of tobacco use. For more information on smoking and its oral health effects, visit mouthhealthy.org.

Related reading: Studies find sunbathing linked to gum disease prevalence

Watch the video below to see Dr. Glick disucuss the hazards of hookah smoking:

More on oral health: The comprehensive assessment is critical in diagnosing periodontal disease

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