Smoking a water pipe, also called a hookah or shisha, is dangerous for your oral health. Many people have the misconception that smoking a waterpipe is somehow less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but that’s simply untrue. Smoking hookah regularly can lead to gum disease, oral cancer, and other serious health conditions.
Smoking communally from a water pipe began over 400 years ago in India, but its popularity is currently on the rise around the world including here in the United States, especially among young people. A hookah or waterpipe heats up flavored tobacco (produced specifically for this use), which is then pulled through the pot of water and into the rubber hose that’s attached to a mouthpiece. Depending on where you are smoking and who you are with, you may use disposable plastic tips so each smoker only uses their own or you may share the mouthpiece communally.
The sweet smell of the tobacco and interactive way of smoking seems less harmful than cigarettes, but the level of nicotine in the tobacco is not currently regulated and there are no age restrictions on who can buy and smoke hookahs. One study found that among high school seniors, about 1 in 5 boys and 1 in 6 girls had tried hookah in the past year. The millions of waterpipe smokers may be surprised to hear that the risks of smoking hookah are similar, if not worse than, those of smoking cigarettes.
Hookahs are wrongly perceived as a healthier alternative, but this is simply not true. While a cigarette takes typically 5-7 minutes or 40-75 puffs to smoke, a hookah may last an hour and a half or about 50-200 puffs. According to the American Journal of Health Behavior, the amount of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 milliliters, compared to that of 600 milliliters inhaled while smoking a cigarette. The tobacco in water pipes is also exposed to high heat from burning charcoal, and the smoke is found to be at least as toxic as cigarette smoke.
While smoking hookah occasionally is not the worst activity for your overall health, smoking consistently is undoubtedly terrible for your oral health. If you smoke, we advise you to stop to reduce your risk of oral cancer and disease.
If you have questions about your smoking habit in relation to dental health, call The Dental Care Center.