on a hookah may lead to gum disease
YORK (Reuters Health) - Though water pipes are widely
viewed as a "safer" way to smoke, they may be as damaging
to the teeth and gums as cigarettes are, a new study
pipes, or hookahs, have long been used for smoking tobacco
in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia, and
"hookah lounges" are increasingly popping up in the U.S.
and other countries.
pipes consist of a long tube attached to a glass or
plastic container that holds water in its base. The
tobacco, which is flavored with fruits and sugar syrup, is
burned using charcoal. Because the smoke passes through
the water before the smoker inhales it, water pipes are
believed by some to filter out the harmful substances in
However, water pipe smoke contains the same toxins as
cigarette smoke, the authors of the new study point out in
their report in the Journal of Periodontology. And past
studies have suggested that hookah smoking increases heart
rate and blood pressure and impairs lung function.
if water pipes are as tough on the teeth as cigarettes
are, Suzan Natto and her colleagues at the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm, studied 262 adults in Saudi
Arabia, where hookah smoking is widespread.
Overall, 31 percent smoked water pipes exclusively, while
19 percent smoked only cigarettes. Another 20 percent used
both smoking methods, and the rest -- 30 percent -- were
researchers found that about 20 percent of all study
participants had signs of gum disease, which is marked by
inflammation and redness in the gums in its earlier
stages, and, later, destruction of the bones and soft
tissue supporting the teeth, possibly leading to tooth
while only 8 percent of non-smokers had gum disease, 30
percent of water pipe smokers and 24 percent of cigarette
smokers were affected.
Natto and her colleagues weighed other factors, such as
study participants' ages, they found that water pipe
smokers were five times more likely than non-smokers to
show signs of gum disease. Cigarette smokers had a nearly
four-times greater risk than non-smokers.
not clear why tobacco smoking promotes gum disease, but
it's "highly likely," Natto and her colleagues note, that
it harms the bones that support the teeth. Whatever the
reason, they say, the findings suggest that tobacco from a
water pipe is as harmful to the teeth as that of