Is eating ice bad for your teeth?
The American Dental Association (ADA) considers ice chewing to be one of the most dangerous habits that can negatively impact your teeth. Chewing ice can have a significant impact on both function and aesthetics. In addition, they can also make individuals vulnerable to infection. For example, if an individual has a cavity in their tooth, they may experience pain. If the hole associated with the cavity begins to deepen below the gum line, the pain may intensify. A dental professional must be seen if you have, for instance, a crack in your tooth. Cracks can provide an entry point for harmful bacteria to reach your pulp, which can cause severe inflammation and decay.
If your teeth are damaged or have chips, you may need dental treatments like root canal therapy. You may also need a bridge or crown to restore the damaged tooth and keep it functional.
Why Do People Chew Ice?
“Pica” is the medical term for hunger and chewing on inedible items such as dirt, clay, chalk, paper, paint, sand, and rocks. Chewing on ice is referred to as pagophagia, and the most well-known form of it is sipa. Recent studies have shown that compulsive ice chewing may be a symptom of anemia, particularly iron deficiency anemia.
Medical scientists are unsure why people with anemia have the urge to chew ice. However, they suspect that the coldness of the crunchy cubes may be comforting to the inflammations often caused by iron deficiency.
A study from Medical Hypotheses indicates that eating ice may help alleviate inflammation in those with anemia. Anemia is a condition characterized by low levels of hemoglobin, which can lead to feelings of fatigue and brain fog.
Being submerged in cold water triggers a specific response in our body. Our heart rate slows down and the blood vessels in our body’s legs and arms constrict. This is supposed to keep the mind fed with oxygen and protect other core body functions. Researchers have found that chewing ice can help improve blood circulation and oxygenation in the brain, which may be beneficial for people with anemia. However, drinking ice-cold water does not appear to have the same effect.
There are several reasons why people may choose to chew ice, including relief for a dry mouth, quitting cigarettes, stress relief, boredom, or an attempt to cut back on food consumption to lose weight.
Side Effects of Chewing Ice
When you break a tooth or sustain a dental injury from chewing ice, you have to take care of it immediately by going to the dentist. Here are some additional dangers of chewing ice that you should be aware of.
Wears Down Enamel
The most visible side effect of ice chewing is the wearing down of your enamel. This weakened enamel leaves your teeth at a greater risk for tooth decay, breakage, and other orthodontic problems.
If you have dental restorations such as fillings or crowns in your mouth, chewing ice can cause damage to your mouth. The materials used for these different procedures will expand and retract simultaneously when chewing ice, but the processes happen at different speeds. This can lead to dental restorations coming loose or wearing down teeth over time.
You may experience bleeding and discomfort if you develop gum inflammation from sharp ice edges. Although the mouth is generally good at self-treatment, you may be at risk for infection if you sustain any cuts.
Even though teeth are the strongest substance in your body, they’re not necessarily invincible. The enamel on your teeth can break down over time as a result of many different factors, which weakens your teeth and makes them more susceptible to breaking or cracking when you bite down.
If you notice discomfort in your teeth when exposed to extreme temperatures, then you may be experiencing tooth sensitivity. This can be caused by repeated exposure to extreme temperatures, such as chewing ice, which can damage the nerves in your teeth.
Causes Jaw Soreness and Headaches
When you grind ice with your teeth, you may not only experience jaw soreness, but you could also develop other problems like jaw pain. Fortunately, there are many other exercises that can help relieve tension in the jaw, which may be caused by teeth grinding. These exercises can help to stretch and relax the muscles in the jaw, providing relief from discomfort.
Alternatives to ice chewing
People who are not habitual chewers of ice may have difficulty giving up the habit and turning to alternatives, such as:
Let the ice melt: It’s definitely better to consume the ice slowly than to try to crunch the entire cube. Don’t bite the entire ice cube; just allow it to melt in your mouth slowly. Many people find this method of eating just as refreshingly rewarding as chewing ice.
Control the temptation: It is best to resist the urge to chew on ice. This behavior can be harmful to your teeth and pose a risk for injury. If you are at home, in a restaurant, or another private location, try to avoid drinking beverages with ice cubes. This will help you avoid the temptation to chew on ice.
Opt for cold drinks or popsicles: If you find yourself chewing on ice to relieve thirst, you might want to explore alternatives like cold drinks and popsicles.
Try using slush: You can also replace your ice cubes with slush, which offers a fair quantity of thoroughly melting ice. Shaved ice and soft ice, also known as nugget ice, are simple and soft types of ice that do not cause any discomfort to your oral cavity.
Try crunch switch: Crunching on ice cubes can be damaging to your teeth and is often considered a habit that is best avoided. If you find yourself needing to crunch on something, opt for healthier alternatives like apple slices, carrot sticks, or cucumber slices. Eating crunchy vegetables can help satisfy your need for a crunchy texture while also providing natural mouthwash benefits. The fiber-rich material in the veggies promotes the salivary glands to produce saliva, which provides oral health advantages.
From what we’ve seen, it’s pretty clear that eating ice is bad for your teeth. It can cause tooth breakage, increased sensitivity, and even cavities. So, if you’re looking to keep your teeth healthy, it’s best to avoid eating ice altogether.