From a young age, we have been bombarded with commercials saying that smoking is bad for your health on multiple fronts. There are obvious risks, such as lung cancer or emphysema, but smoking also does some serious damage to your mouth as well and has been linked to a higher risk of gum disease. With the increasing popularity of alternatives to cigarettes, such as hookah, it is important to be vigilant about your oral health.
A hookah is a form of water pipe that uses shisha tobacco which is usually much sweeter than conventional cigarettes. Many people are fooled into thinking that the water makes tobacco less harmful, but this is not the case. Researchers have recently found that hookah users have a higher incidence of gum disease than cigarette smokers, about five times higher than nonsmokers.
This goes along with other risks associated with waterpipe smoking, including esophageal and oral cancer.
Gum disease occurs when your gums become infected, often due to a lack of proper oral care. Eventually, the gums become irritated and bleed easily. If left unchecked, as your body tries to fight the infection, the combination of bacteria-fighting enzymes, as well as toxins from the bacteria in your gums, begin to break down your teeth and bone and tooth loss occurs soon after. Gum disease not only affects your teeth and gums, as it has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer
Smoking leads to gum disease for a couple of reasons. First, smoking has a strong negative impact on your circulatory system and can reduce the flow of blood to the gums and in turn the delivery of important nutrients and oxygen. Second, smoking hinders your body’s ability to fight infections and heal wounds which means that once gum disease has started, your body is less likely to successfully combat the infection.
If you need help quitting smoking there are plenty of options available such as patches, gum, and medications. While hookah may seem like a healthier alternative, you may be actually doing your body more harm by choosing hookah over cigarettes. If you are having issues with gum disease, or have any questions about the condition, please call Nicolas A. Ravon, DDS, MSD at (310) 275-5325 for an appointment with a periodontist.