Dubai: Aesthetic dental surgeons and orthodontists in the UAE have reported a surge in shisha smokers with aggravated gum diseases and oral health issues, left neglected in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Health authorities banned dental procedures temporarily for the first three months of movement restrictions as most dentists use high-pressured air during treatment procedures. Since the oral cavity has saliva and other secretions, the microbes from the oral cavity get locked in saliva or water globules and remain suspended in air. This is called the aerosol effect. These particles could carry the COVID-19 virus, apart from other microbial germs.
However, the restrictions on dental procedures have since been relaxed and a surge in consultation has been noticed by doctors.
Poor blood supply triggers gum disease in shisha smokers
Dr Chandan Bagde, aesthetic and restorative dentist at Dermalase Clinic, Al Wasl, told Gulf News, she had seen an unusually large number of smokers, particularly those who smoked the water pipe, coming in with poor oral health and dental complaints. “People think shisha smoking is safer because the tobacco smoke passes through water. However, this is not so. According to new studies published by the American Dental Association, smoking shisha for an hour is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes as water pipe smoking allows a big bolus of toxic smoke to be inhaled. People usually indulge in recreational shisha smoking for a minimum of an hour, which is quite damaging. Apart from the high risk of contracting oesophageal cancer and cancers of the oral cavity, there is also the danger of oral and dental infections,” explained Dr Bagde.
Shisha smokers 3-6 times at higher risk of gum diseases
Dr Bagde added that when people indulge in heavy shisha smoking, the nicotine not only numbs the taste buds, but also restricts blood supply to the gums and teeth, causing loss of sensation and lack of circulation giving rise to all kinds of gum diseases. “Normally an individual is likely to smoke 100 cigarettes in a stretch of several days, but here the issue is magnified with the impact of one hour of shisha smoking.”
Dr Ebadullah Shafi, specialist in cosmetic dentistry at Tajmeel Dental Health Centre, Karamah, Abu Dhabi, explained that although shisha smoking had been around for a long time, during the pandemic, owing to neglect of oral health, patients were coming in with many dental complaints. “Oral health is considered a gateway to general health. The single most ‘modifiable’ contributing factor in our younger population having bad oral health is smoking.”
Stop smoking shisha to avoid mouth ulcers, bleeding gums
Dr Bagde explained: “Shisha smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, resulting in infections and darkening of the gums and lips due to nicotine stains as well as poor circulation. Because of the numbing of taste buds, these people eat poorly. Lack of proper nutrition combined with lack of oxygen makes healing very slow resulting in poor oral health.” Dr Shaif added: “Smoking shisha regularly can cause dark/bleeding gums, discolouration of teeth, bad breath and infections in the mouth.”
Thanks to cosmetic dentistry and aesthetics, problems of periodontal diseases, gum swelling and teeth discolouration can be addressed in a targeted way.
Dr Shafi added that lasers were not only preferred due to the quick and painless methods involved, but had an anti-bacterial effect too, thereby ensuring quick infection control.