Have you ever eaten all of your dinner, drank all of your water, and then flirted with the last remaining edible item on the table – the ice in the bottom of your glass? If so, you’re not alone. Many people chew on ice cubes for a variety of different reasons.
You may think this habit is relatively harmless since ice is made of water. After all, it’s not like you are sucking on a piece of sugary candy, right? Well, the impact of ice-chewing on your teeth is less than desirable. Here’s why:
4 Reasons Why Chewing Ice Cubes Hurts Your Teeth
1 – Chewing ice puts an enormous amount of pressure on your teeth. While the dentin in your teeth is relatively flexible, the enamel is very hard and doesn’t flex much. Chewing ice can wear down the enamel and even chip or fracture pieces of the enamel off of your teeth.
Not sure what enamel and dentin are? Read this article about the anatomy of a tooth.
2 – Chewing ice causes a repetitive hot/cold cycle in your mouth. This can cause microcracks in your enamel over time. Also, tooth enamel expands at a different rate than fillings. If you have a white filling, it will expand and contract much faster than the tooth when exposed to hot and cold temperatures. This could lead to a breakdown of the seal at the tooth/filling interface and may shorten the life of your filling.
3 – If you have braces, the ice could damage them. It might break off a bracket or move a wire, making it ineffective at doing its job of bringing your teeth into proper alignment.
4 – It can damage your gums. Ice chunks are hard and can be pretty sharp. Although I don’t know of any studies to back this up, it would seem that if you are constantly chewing ice and pressing down on the gums, you could cause injury to your gums and perhaps even cause gum recession. For example, tongue rings press on the surface of your teeth closest to your tongue and have been shown to cause gum recession in these areas.
Why Do You Want to Chew Ice Cubes?
Try to figure out what is causing you to chew ice cubes in the first place. It could be a sign of stress or a more serious medical condition, such as iron-deficiency anemia. Perhaps a multi-vitamin with iron is all you need to help you stop your habit.
More than likely, though, you are just chewing on ice because you are bored and still sitting at the table after you have finished your food. There are also some people who just like chewing ice. I loved chewing ice cubes when I was a kid, and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing terribly wrong with me…!
Healthier Replacement Habits
Once you find out why you’re chewing ice, you can try to do something to treat the cause of your ice chewing habit. For example, if stress or social anxiety causes you to chew ice, learn some new techniques to handle these feelings differently.
If you just like chewing ice because of the crunchy noise or the satisfying feeling of chewing through something hard, you can try eating something crunchy, like carrots or apples.
If you can, it is a lot better to simply suck on ice cubes rather than chew them. Although this still can cause extremely cold temperatures in your mouth which could shorten the life of your fillings, it is much better to suck on ice than it is to chew on it.
Are you an ice chewer? Have you ever chipped or cracked your tooth by chewing on something? If you have any experiences to share or questions, please leave them below in the comments.
Thanks for reading!