Skip to main content
benefits spotlight banner

How smoking and alcohol harm your health

As we welcome a new year, many of us hope for a fresh start with resolutions geared toward better health and wellness. Two major barriers to a healthy life are smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, both of which significantly impact your oral health. Here, we’ll review the harmful effects these habits have on your smile. This knowledge can be a powerful motivator to break free from them and embrace a healthier you.

Smoking’s effect on your oral health

Most people already know that smoking is a major health risk. Although your lungs are most associated with its harmful effects, smoking also wreaks havoc on your mouth. Here are some main ways smoking threatens your good oral health:

  • Weakened teeth and gums: Tobacco products contain toxins that weaken your teeth and gums, leading to cavities and gum disease. When these conditions are left untreated, they can cause a lot of problems, including tooth loss.
  • Higher risk of oral cancer: Smoking is one of the most established risk factors for oral cancer.
  • Stained teeth: Cigarettes and other tobacco products contain tar and nicotine, which can stain your teeth a brown or yellowish color.
  • Bad breath: Smoking causes bad breath. Although good oral hygiene and mouthwash use may help control it, continued smoking will ensure bad breath lingers.

Excessive alcohol use and oral health

Moderate drinking — one daily serving of alcohol for a woman and two daily servings for a man — can be part of a healthy lifestyle. But when your alcohol consumption is more than that, it causes problems. Here’s how excessive drinking can hurt your teeth and mouth:

  • Dry mouth: Alcohol dehydrates your mouth, which leads to less saliva. Saliva not only keeps your mouth feeling comfortable, but it also plays an important role in washing away food particles from your teeth and gums and preventing the growth of bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease.
  • Higher risk of oral cancer: Similar to smoking, excessive alcohol consumption has long been linked to greater risk for developing oral cancer.
  • Increased acidity and sugar: Alcohol increases the acidity in your mouth, which can wear down your enamel (the outer layer of your teeth). When your enamel breaks down, it cannot grow back, and eroded enamel can lead to painful tooth sensitivity and cavities. Alcohol also contains varying levels of sugar, which feed the bacteria of your mouth that cause cavities.
  • Boosts infection risk: Alcohol weakens your immune system, making it harder to fight off infections in the mouth, including gum disease.

Cutting bad habits goes beyond your smile

Quitting your smoking habit and cutting back on alcohol will improve not just your oral health but your overall health as well. The health of your teeth and mouth is linked to your total-body health — when you have an infection in your mouth it can cause problems elsewhere in your body and vice versa. Start the new year with a brighter smile and a renewed commitment to your health by making smoking and excessive alcohol use a thing of the past.


Oral Health Foundation 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Penn Dental Medicine 

back to Top

Risks of dry scooping pre-workout powders

Fitness trends come and go, and some can be dangerous to your health. Dry scooping pre-workout powder is one fad that sparked on social media and is raising red flags.

What is dry scooping?

Dry scooping is the practice of swallowing a scoop of pre-workout powder directly, without mixing it with water as intended. Usually, people who dry scoop will chase the dry powder with a drink of water to make it easier to swallow. This seemingly harmless shortcut can have serious consequences for your health, including your oral health.

Why people dry scoop pre-workout powder

The idea behind dry scooping is that you will be able to access the benefits of pre-workout powder faster with dry scooping than if you dissolved the powder in water. Pre-workout powders often contain caffeine and other nutrients intended to boost your ability to exercise. When you dissolve the powder in water, your body processes those nutrients slower. The thought is that when you swallow the powder without being dissolved, the energy-boosting benefits will hit your body quicker and allow you to have a stronger workout.

Reasons to avoid dry scooping

  • It floods your body with caffeine: Pre-workout powders typically contain high amounts of caffeine. Dry scooping delivers this caffeine directly to your system without diluting it, which can lead to:
    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure: This can put stress on your heart and lead to serious health problems.
    • Anxiety and nervousness: The sudden surge of caffeine can cause anxiety and jitters.
    • Upset stomach: Concentrated caffeine can irritate your digestive system, causing nausea and diarrhea.
  •  It's bad for your teeth: Pre-workout powders often contain acidic ingredients and sugar that can damage your teeth in different ways. Dry scooping exposes your teeth directly to these harmful substances, which can lead to:
    • Worn down enamel: Acid can erode your enamel, which is the outer coating of your teeth. When your enamel breaks down, it cannot be repaired or regenerated. Weakened enamel can lead to several problems, including yellow-looking teeth and cavities.
    • Tooth sensitivity: The acidic ingredients can irritate the sensitive dentin layer of your teeth (the layer of your tooth located underneath your enamel).
    • Higher risk of cavities: Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth that cause cavities, and pre-workout powders often contain sugar.
  • It can be dangerous: Dry scooping poses several other serious risks, including:
    • Choking: The fine powder can easily be inhaled and lead to choking.
    • Dehydration: Dry scooping can lead to dehydration, which is a dangerous condition on its own and can worsen other health problems.

How to safely use pre-workout powders

In short: Do not dry scoop any nutritional powder intended to be dissolved in water or another beverage. Mixing the pre-workout powder into a liquid will dilute the caffeine and other ingredients, making it safer to consume and easier for your body to absorb.

Also, always follow the recommended dosage on the package. Don't exceed the recommended dosage of pre-workout powder in hopes of getting any added benefit.

Lastly, talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your health or pre-workout supplements. Pre-workout powders are not essential to achieving a great workout or physical health, but if you are interested in taking one, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. By avoiding a suspicious product, you may end up saving a lot more than money. Remember: Your health is more important than a quick fitness fix.


Cleveland Clinic