It’s likely that you’ve happily crunched up ice cubes here and there. Those small melted frozen pieces are delightful to chew on. You may have even ordered ice covered with flavored syrup as a treat. Those in Hawaii call this treat shaved ice. If you live in New York, you probably call it Italian ice. The rest of us may refer to it as snow cones or slushies, but is ice bad for teeth? If you crave gnawing on ice cubes, then it could be a sign that you have a serious health condition. At Lovett Dental Heights, we know that it can also damage your teeth and harm your gums.
The health condition that we’re referring to is called pica, and it means craving and chewing on things that have little to no nutritional value, such as clay, dirt, chalk, paper, or Ice. Medical professionals have researched the condition for years. In fact, even as early as the 5th century B.C., a medical book reported that patients were experiencing cravings for salty or excessively spicy foods along with dirt, ashes, and eggshells. Chewing on ice is the most common type of pica, and it is called pagophagia. Today, the compulsion to chew ice is considered a symptom of anemia, particularly people who are suffering from iron deficiency.
How is Ice Bad for Teeth?
While chewing on ice won’t damage your health like other addictions, doing so will cause dental damage. If you chew on the ice frequently, then you may experience cracked and chipped teeth. This addiction could also damage your tooth enamel and cause issues with dental work like crowns or fillings. The enamel on your teeth is the thing that keeps them strong. It is also what protects them from wear and tear when you chew, crunch, grind, and bite. The more that you wear down your enamel, the more likely it is that you’ll experience cavities or general damage to your teeth. Ice damages your fillings because the temperature of it causes your fillings to expand. When fillings increase in size, they don’t last as long.
Chewing ice can make your jaw muscles sore and cause damage to your gums. Ice is sharp and hard, so it can puncture and harm your gum tissue. Your gum tissue is already at risk from the food that you eat each day. It’s a good idea to do everything you can to protect it.
The habit of chewing ice can even cause your teeth to feel extremely sensitive to hot and cold food and drinks. When you expose your teeth to extreme temperature changes frequently, you may damage the nerves that are inside your teeth. Chewing ice may create other body irritations, such as headaches, jaw soreness, and brain freezes. Also, if you aggravate your teeth’s soft tissue, you may suffer from a toothache.
A Few Quitting Tips from Lovett Dental Heights
Chewing ice can damage your teeth and gums. It may even be a sign that you’re suffering from a medical condition. Be sure to get a medical check-up to see if you’re experiencing anemia or another health problem that could be causing you to want ice. Almost every anemic addicted to ice reports the craving passes once they receive treatment for their medical problem. If you’re chomping on ice because your mouth is dry or because you’re trying to stop smoking, then we recommend switching to popsicles or cold drinks. You can purchase unsweetened popsicles or make your own using a small amount of fruit juice and frozen water.
If you’re not able to stop chewing ice, then try switching to slush. This will cause the least amount of damage to your teeth. At Lovett Dental Heights, we can help you overcome your ice addiction. We provide a variety of dental services ranging from pediatric to orthodontic and endodontic. If you have any questions or wish to make an appointment, contact us at 832.780.4573.