Hookah smoking is becoming a nationwide fad, mainly among teenagers and college students, as it’s wrongly perceived as a healthy alternative to cigarette smoking. What is hookah smoking? Specifically, hookahs are pipe-like devices that consumers can use to smoke flavored tobacco products. Hookah pipes take this flavored tobacco and turn it into a vapor, which is then inhaled by the user. Hookah is usually smoked in groups, and being that the tobacco that is inhaled is more friendly to the senses, it’s perceived as a healthier, viable alternative to cigarettes. As we noted, this perception is incorrect.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hookah smoking may actually be worse for consumers that cigarettes. The CDC notes that an hour-long hookah session can consist of 200 puffs, compared to 20 puffs taken from a cigarette. What’s more is that there are concerns that consumers are inhaling more toxic agents when hookah smoking when compared to cigarettes based on high levels of carbon monoxide produced to heat the tobacco. You already likely know that cigarettes aren’t good for your overall health – and if hookah is thought to be more detrimental than smoking cigarettes, then just imagine how bad it is for you. One area where it tends to take a significant toll is as it pertains to your dental health.
Hookah: Enemy of Oral Health
Hookah smoking takes its toll on oral health in four key ways:
- Periodontal disease: It’s estimated that cigarette smokers are nearly 4 times more likely than non-smokers to develop periodontal disease. Some research suggests that hookah smokers are up to 5 times more likely than non-smokers to develop periodontal disease.
- Bad breath: As we noted above, an hour-long group hookah session can consist of taking up to 200 puffs. Keep in mind that tobacco and bad breath are pretty synonymous with each other – even if it’s flavored and smells and tastes nice. Hence, the more tobacco you consume, the worse off your breath will be.
- Oral cancer: Up to 42,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Tobacco is believed to be a major factor in such diagnoses, no matter how it is consumed. The juices from hookahs can lead to irritation of the mouth, which can help accelerate the onset of oral cancer.
- Dry mouth: Last but not least, dry mouth is another common effect from hookah smoking. Any type of tobacco consumption will inhibit the mouth’s ability to produce saliva. This, in turn, can leave the mouth at greater risk for tooth decay.
If you enjoy hookah too much to give it up, we’d recommend switching from flavored tobacco to tobacco-free hookah or shisha. These products are available tobacco-free, so you can still enjoy the social appeal of smoking hookah without the nasty health effects.
Do You Have More Questions?
For more information on the dangers of smoking hookah, contact our doctors, Dr. Richard Caven, Dr. Shelby Denman, and Dr. Stephen Carpenter, by calling our Caven Dental office in Jacksonville, FL, to schedule a consultation today!