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Is Chewing Ice Bad for Your Teeth? Yes, and Here’s Why

Many adults think that only children suffer dental injuries. While dental clinics do see a large number of children, adults are also prone to dental trauma, sometimes caused by their own bad habits.

There are 10 things that lead to brittle teeth, and chewing on ice is just one of them. The hardness of the ice causes strain on the tooth, leading to its deterioration.

Is chewing ice bad for your teeth? Yes, and we’re going to explain why.

Are You Addicted?

Some people crave ice chewing the same way a smoker craves a cigarette. Some even go to Sonic to purchase bags of ice for their habit. Some hardcore addicts install a snow-cone machine into their home.

As harmless as it seems, chewing ice can be a sign of underlying health issues and can also ruin your teeth. The American Dental Association lists chewing ice as one of three items that can crack a tooth. The other two are unpropped popcorn kernels and hard candy.

Underlying Health Issues

Underlying health issues are often found to be the basis of an ice craving. If you find yourself crunching down on the cold stuff frequently, you may want to check with your medical doctor about a possible underlying health issue.

Iron Deficiency Anemia occurs when your body does not have sufficient health red blood cells. This means your red blood cells are lacking oxygen. Iron is necessary to maintain a healthy red blood cell count.

Chewing on ice causes more blood to go to the brain, and increased blood means an increase in oxygen.

Pagophagia is a psychiatric eating disorder where sufferers chew on items that lack nutritional value, such as sand, rocks, chalk dirt, and ice. Pica is the medical term used when the person with Pagophagia chews ice.

Those with Pica may have depression, a learning disability, be autistic, or have schizophrenia. If children are chewing ice, they may be under stress or suffering from neglect or abuse.

Habit means it is something you do but there are no underlying concerns. You simply need to make yourself aware of this compulsive behavior to break it.

How Is Chewing Ice Bad for Your Teeth?

Ice in itself is not dangerous, it is just frozen water. The problem is that frequently chewing on ice can lead to dental problems.

Crunching on any hard item, including ice, can damage your tooth enamel, chip your teeth, or cause them to crack. It can also damage fillings, crowns, and cause a sore jaw.

This damage may lead to sensitivity to hot or cold liquids and food. You may also experience continuous pain.

Tooth enamel is easily destroyed by frequent ice crunching. The combination of crunching on a cold and hard surface causes the teeth to experience an extreme temperature change.

This causes the tooth enamel to expand and contract. Over time the enamel develops tiny cracks, weakening the tooth.

Tooth enamel’s purpose is to protect your teeth from decay. When the enamel is damaged your teeth and gums become more susceptible to infection and disease. By constantly forcing your tooth to crunch on the cold hard surface of ice, it may eventually fracture.

Do not assume because symptoms are not apparent you are safe. One medical report revealed that a 37-year old Japanese woman was suffering from temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) on her left side. In her teen years, she had begun chewing on ice, consuming more than 30 cubes per day.

Over her 20 years of ice chewing, she had a habit of always chewing on the left side. Over time she incurred changes in her jawline and cavities only on the side of the mouth where she was chomping on ice.

If you frequently chew on ice and are concerned about your oral health, schedule an appointment with Webster Family Dentistry. Dr. Closurdo can evaluate your teeth and gums for any potential ice chewing damage.

Breaking the Habit

It is important to get a medical checkup to make sure there are no underlying health issues causing your ice cravings. Those with iron deficiencies usually lose their cravings once they receive medical treatment.

If you have a true habit related to dry mouth or picked up when trying to stop smoking, switch to a safer alternative. Two popular substitutes are popsicles and cold drinks. Avoid cavities and weight gain by selecting unsweetened popsicles.

If you need a slower let-down, you can always switch to snow cones or slushies. Though made with ice, these are much softer versions and not as likely to damage your teeth.

Many refrigerators offer you the option of dispensing crushed ice. This is a wise choice if you like ice in your drinks. Another option is to let the ice cube slowly melt in your mouth like you would candy.

It may be that it isn’t the cold you crave, so much as the crunch. If that is the case you can try munching on low-calorie crunchy snacks such as baby carrots, cucumber slices, or pieces of apple. Chewing on fibrous foods stimulates saliva production. That helps clean your teeth, acting like a natural mouthwash. 

If You Have a Dental Emergency

There are a number of conditions that are a dental emergency. Some of the most common conditions are:

  • Extreme pain
  • Losing a crown, bridge, or filling
  • Cracked or broken tooth
  • Complications from dental surgery
  • Inflammation, infection, abscesses
  • Trauma from impact to the mouth

Emergency dentistry services are provided to both current and new patients at Webster Family Dentistry. Emergency treatment includes a full exam, x-rays, and any steps needed to reduce pain and resolve the problem.  

Save Your Smile.

Now you know the answer to “Is chewing ice bad for your teeth?” If you have been chomping on ice and are concerned about the health of your teeth and gums, we recommend you schedule an appointment with our office.

If you are a new patient at Webster Family Dental you can take advantage of our $59 new patient special. We will answer all your questions and will assist you in reaching your dental health goals.

Save your smile—schedule an appointment today!

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