ABU DHABI // Smoking can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even cancer - but one in seven dentists in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah are still lighting up, a health study has shown.
Stress, heavy workloads, financial worries, poor working conditions, medical emergencies in their practice and the routine nature of the job are reasons dentists give for smoking.
And male dentists are far more likely to smoke than their female peers, according to the study on dentists' health and lifestyle, conducted by Ajman University of Science and Technology.
Of the 733 respondents, 21 per cent of the men and only 3 per cent of the women took a puff. The dentists surveyed were aged between 22 and 70.
Professor David Wray, the dean of Dubai School of Dental Medicine, described the results of the survey as disappointing.
"As members of a healthcare profession with a remit for general as well as oral well-being, dentists should be setting an example to their patients," Prof Wray said.
"All dentists are aware that lifestyle issues such as smoking, obesity and exercise are important determinants of health."
The study found only 39 per cent of dentists did any physical exercise and 16 per cent reported having a systemic problem, such as cardiovascular disease.
One dentist, Dr Kevin Dunston-Maher of the Maher Medical Group, said he was amazed at the figures.
"I am absolutely shocked, especially when all dentists know the ravages it [smoking] can cause," Dr Dunston-Maher said. "I thought all doctors and dentists gave up smoking years ago."
But one oral surgeon, who asked not to be named, said he thought the actual figure was higher and that he knew several colleagues who smoked - although none would publicly admit it.