Smoking The Hookah: Harmless or Harmful For Dental Health?

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA- Cigarette use is on the decline among Americans, but tobacco is manifesting its harmful effects in a fresh, more appealing way.

Technically, smoking hookah is nothing new. It’s a 500-year-old practice that began in Turkey, Egypt and India. Smoked from a pipe filled with water, hookah entails inhaling flavored tobacco that is drawn up in a hose. Today, teens and 20-somethings (many of which frown upon cigarette smoking) are embracing hookah as a safe and hip alternative to traditional tobacco use.  

Hookah was introduced in the 16th century by an Indian physician who claimed it was perfectly harmless, since the tobacco was passed through water prior to inhaling. Research has rendered this notion false, but many of its young users share the opinion of hookah’s creator.  

Here are the facts: smoking hookah has severe oral and systemic health consequences, including respiratory disease; decreased fertility; and lung, oral, esophageal, stomach and bladder cancers. It is no less harmful than smoking a cigarette.

“This misconception about hookah is dangerous,” says Dr. Robert Walley, a provider of dentistry in San Francisco. “I find it important to educate my young patients about hookah’s negative effects on oral health. There are many.”

Hookah exposes the mouth to countless toxins from the tobacco and charcoal used in the water pipe. Studies show cigarette and hookah users carry an increased risk of oral cancer, tooth loss, gum recession and periodontal disease- a bacterial infection of the gums that is often irreversible. Tobacco exposure also interferes with the healing process of oral wounds, and can hinder the success of many dental procedures.  

Smoker’s leukoplakia, commonly referred to as “smoker’s palette,” is another unpleasant outcome of smoking hookah. This occurs when the mucous membrane (roof of the mouth) acquires a hardened, red substance due to prolonged irritation. Smoker’s palette often proves cancerous, and is typically removed surgically as a precaution. 

We at Robert M. Walley, D.D.S. urge our patients to avoid any sort of tobacco use, whether it’s hookah, cigarettes, snuff or dipping tobacco. All forms of tobacco carry devastating health risks that affect your smile and body.

If you have or are currently using tobacco, please contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll examine your mouth for threats to your oral health brought on by smoking. If conditions like oral cancer are caught early, the chances of experiencing a complete recovery increase drastically. Don’t put your health at risk- give us a call today.