What You Need to Know About the Dangers of Hookah Smoking

What You Need to Know About the Dangers of Hookah Smoking

Over the next three post on our Beadnell Family Dentistry blog, I will be writing on the overall health and oral implications of hookah smoking, e-cigarette smoking, and marijuana so that the patients at our SW Portland family dentistry have the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about these habits and what they could mean for their health.

Although cigarette smoking isn’t nearly as popular with teens in the United States as it was a decade ago, that doesn’t mean teens don’t smoke. A new study finds that a more exotic form of tobacco use, hookah smoking, is on the rise among U.S. teens. In fact, 18 percent of high school seniors surveyed said they had smoked a hookah in the past year.

Hookah smoking is performed with a multi-stemmed, usually glass based water pipe that consists of one or more long flexible stems connected to a base with containers for water and tobacco in which smoke is drawn and cooled.  The pipe is designed to vaporize, or smoke, the flavored tobacco called shisha.

People often believe that smoking from a hookah removes the nicotine and other toxins from the tobacco. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. The nicotine in hookah tobacco is addictive, and like cigarette smokers, people who smoke hookahs are at risk for a variety of health problems. Oral health complications, which are a more significant interest for the patients at our SW Portland family dentistry, include oral cancer and periodontal disease.

Hookah Smoke & Oral Cancer

  • The charcoal used to heat the tobacco can raise health risks by producing high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals. Even after it has passed through water, the smoke from a hookah has high levels of these toxic agents.
  • Hookah tobacco and smoke contain several toxic agents known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.
  • Tobacco juices from hookahs irritate the mouth and increase the risk of developing oral cancers.
  • Like regular smokers, hookah smokers are at an increased risk of developing periodontal disease.

Other Health Effects of Hookah Smoke

  • Hookah tobacco and smoke contain several toxicities that can cause atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • Viral and Bacterial Infections may be passed to other smokers by sharing a hookah.
  • Hookah smokers are at a risk for lung, stomach, esophageal cancer.  Also seen is a reduction in lung function and decreased fertility.

The Facts: Hookah Smoking Compared With Cigarette Smoking

  • One hour of hookah use exposes smokers to 100-200 times the volume of smoke in a typical cigarette.
  • A bowl of hookah tobacco contains the amount of nicotine in approximately 100 cigarettes.
  • Compared to traditional cigarette smoke, hookah smoke has about 6 times more carbon monoxide and 46 times more tar.
  • Hookah smoke contains many of the same harmful chemicals in traditional cigarette smoke: carbon monoxide, tar, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, cadmium, nickel and lead.
  • The amount of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 ml, compared with 500–600 ml inhaled when smoking a cigarette.

Now that you know the facts about hookah smoking, I hope that you now have the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about whether this habit is right for you and your health. If you have any questions about this or any other topic relating to your oral health, please feel free to ask during your next trip to our SW Portland family dentistry. And thanks for reading.

– Dr. Melissa Beadnell


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