Background: Khat (Catha edulis) is a plant with its leaves containing alkaloids similar to caffeine that provides pleasurable and mildly stimulating effects. Prolonged use of Khat is associated with mental health disturbances and may cause severe damage to the temporomandibular joint.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the effects of Khat on oral health among Khat chewers in the city of Aden, Yemen.
Methodology: A prospective study was carried out among Khat chewers in Aden, Yemen, between October 2013-October 2015. A survey questionnaire was developed and distributed among Khat users to explore various aspects related to oral health. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS version 22.0. P-values of less than 0.05 were considered significant. Results: 240 Khat users participated in the survey. Khat chewing was associated with many side effects. The most common side effects were pain, a clicking sound during opening and closing of mouth, tonicity, loss of teeth, and occlusion. The occurrence of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) disorders was higher with those chewing Khat alone (34.2%) than those chewing Khat and other items such as betel nuts (14.6%) and tombol (13.4%). The incidence of TMJD was more in the age range of 15-25 y compared to those in other age groups (P=0.036) and in those chewing Khat>5 days a week (P=0.029).
Conclusion: A significant number of Khat users are affected by TMJD. This public health hazard poses an additional danger to an already substantial list of severe health concerns related to Khat chewing.