How Chewing Ice Cubes Hurts Your Teeth
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!
I enjoy sucking on ice cubes, but for a different reason. The extreme cold provides temporary relief for allergy symptoms (such as sneezing & runny nose!), which is perfect when waiting for antihistamines to kick in or while waiting for an opportunity to escape away from whatever is triggering the allergy.
Hi Sabby, thanks for the comment and for the informative link!
That’s great that ice cubes help your allergies. Dental care is all about compromises. It’s certainly much more important for you to relieve your allergy symptoms than to worry about how long your fillings are going to last or tiny cracks in your teeth.
I’m an ice-chewer for all three reasons! Anemic (Crohn’s disease), stressed (high school), and bored (sometimes).
I think I might eat chew/suck on ice because of the iron deficiency anemia but its mainly a way to cleans my mouth and body of the food I just eat and the ice helps me cool down from the food (because sometimes I eat too much and the ice makes me feel less like a stuffed pig) But from what I’ve read I’m not really if chewing ice is really and truly bad for your teeth or if its just unproven speculation.
I have just cracked the 2nd molar in a month by chewing ice. I chew it because I get hot flashes – they cool me down instantly, I love the way they taste for some reason, and it’s a very refreshing feeling. As I can now not chew on either side (both sides have cracked teeth) I will be giving this up forever. I can’t guarantee I won’t still just let them melt on my tongue.
Trust me, if you can stop now then STOP!! This really hurts.
Just came across this page.
If I do not chew ice but I eat shaved ice. Will it have the same damage? Shaved ice are so soft and I’m addicted to it.
[…] Not only will it lead to fractures, but it can also shorten the life of a filling. According to Oral Answers, a filing is more likely to expand at a faster rate if exposed to these […]
I love chewing on ice because it taste good and I can’t stop….but right now all of my teeth are hurting and I don’t know what to do
[…] ice splinters and breaks apart in the process of chewing, sharp pieces of ice can damage gum tissue. “Habitual chewing of ice, pencils, or anything that can splinter off and stress and damage gum […]
I’ve chewed ice from the day I was born. I like the way it feels when it hits my stomach. But now, my front teeth are chipping away. When I lost my health insurance from a layoff, I also lost my dental insurance. I’m worried about my front teeth. I’ve kept them clean by brushing and flossing.
The other problem is that I grind my teeth and am a nail biter. Years ago, I was given a hard night guard, which I broke in 1 night. Currently, I have a thick flexible night guard and I usually chew through them as well.
I also have 3 implants; one on either side because my permanents never came in and the 3rd one was when the bridge broke, one of the supporting tooth had a root canal and when the bridge was removed, my supporting tooth was gone.
I don’t know what is going to happen. I really don’t want crowns on my front teeth. Im trying to find a dentist who can help me with this problem. Have any suggestions?