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Oral health: The destructive effects of khat

Sir, having worked as a GDP in an area with a very high population of patients regularly chewing the green-leaved plant khat, I have witnessed first-hand the destructive effects it can have upon oral health. Commonly chewed habitually amongst certain communities for its effects of euphoria and heightened alertness, it is often accompanied by tobacco smoking, and the consumption of high sugar drinks and concomitant use of sugar tablets to counteract the bitter taste.1 I have noticed that due to this concoction, my patients have often presented with severe staining of the dentition as well as multiple carious lesions affecting several tooth surfaces, quite often rendering teeth unrestorable. Some literature has also suggested other possible adverse oral health outcomes, such as oral mucosal white changes, gingival recession, gingival bleeding and periodontal pocketing among others.2 As of June 2014 khat became controlled as a class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. I feel that this legislation has and will continue to have a beneficial effect upon the oral health of patients previously accustomed to chewing khat. In my experience, I have noted fewer patients presenting with such problems since the legislation and hope that this trend continues.


  1. 1

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  2. 2

    Astatkie A, Demissie M, Berhane Y . The association of khat (Catha edulis) chewing and orodental health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. S Afr Med J 2014; 104: n11.

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Marway, R. Oral health: The destructive effects of khat. Br Dent J 221, 2 (2016).

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