Chewing on ice is a fairly common habit. Many people just can’t seem to help grabbing the ice from the bottom of a glass and enjoying that cold crunch. Though it may be satisfying for some, this habit can actually damage your teeth, and should be avoided.
Ice is a very hard substance, and requires a great deal of force in order to chew it up. This amount of force can damage the enamel. Small cracks may appear in the enamel of the teeth. This can cause the tooth to become sensitive, and can also lead to more damage, such as larger cracks. In severe cases, these may even threaten the tooth. If you have any restorative dental work, such as fillings or crowns, these can also be damaged by chewing on ice.
In addition, because it’s very cold, ice actually causes freezing of the enamel as the two come into contact. This makes the enamel more brittle, and more likely to crack under the force of chewing. This makes ice even worse for your teeth than most hard objects. A filling will expand and contract with temperature at a different rate than tooth enamel does, and so chewing on ice can slowly cause a filling to separate from the tooth around it.
Although many people simply enjoy the crunch of ice, there is an association between the desire to chew ice and iron deficiency anemia. Doctors still haven’t found out exactly why this association exists, but it has been observed and documented for decades.
If you have a desire to chew on ice, then you may want to tell your regular doctor, so you can get tested for iron deficiency. Having anemia can lead to symptoms including fatigue, headaches, and muscle weakness. Iron supplements can help. It’s important to get tested, so that you can get treatment if you need it.
Chewing on ice is a habit that can cause serious damage to your teeth. If you love to chew on ice, it may help to replace this habit with chewing on something else. Celery or carrot sticks provide a similar crunch without the tooth damage. Some people find that chewing gum satisfies the chewing desire. Make sure you choose sugar-free gum to avoid tooth decay.
For over 25 years, Dr. Mark Caggiano, DDS has provided cosmetic and restorative dentistry in a comfortable, professional environment. Dr. Caggiano received a degree in Biology and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from The University of Southern California. He has had extensive post-graduate training and is a member of numerous professional organizations including The American Dental Association and The International Dental Implant Association. Dr. Caggiano makes dental treatment relaxed and comfortable for patients while enhancing their oral health and beautifying their smiles.