Is Chewing on Ice Bad for Your Smile?

August 20, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — firstcoastsmiles @ 3:42 am

Glass filled with ice cubesIf you tend to chomp on ice, you are opening the door to a dental emergency. Although your enamel is the hardest substance in your body, it isn’t indestructible. It can’t withstand the pressure of ice chewing, which can lead to a broken or fractured tooth. Don’t let your habit of chewing on ice in Jacksonville leave a lasting mark on your smile. Here’s how to curb your addiction, even on a hot summer day.

Risks of Chewing on Ice

People chew on ice for various reasons, but sometimes it can be caused by an untreated medical problem called pica. The eating disorder causes a craving for non-food items, like ice. Pagophagia is the medical term for compulsive ice chewing, which can be caused by an iron deficiency. Although pica isn’t always the culprit of chewing on ice, if you’re not able to stop after making a few simple changes, you may need to see your physician to ensure you don’t need an iron supplement.

Most often, chewing on ice is just a habit after finishing a cold drink. Many people also mindlessly walk to the freezer on a hot day to grab an ice cube to cool their mouths. No matter the driving force behind the crunching, it can lead to serious dental damage. You have an increased risk of enamel erosion, breaks, and fractures. You might even develop jaw or facial pain.

Tips for Breaking the Habit

You can avoid an unexpected trip to your emergency dentist and preserve your smile by using a few tricks, such as:

1. Skip the Ice: You can completely remove the temptation by leaving ice out of your drinks.  

2. Make It a Challenge: Drinking through a straw or placing a lid on your cup can discourage you from getting an ice cube.

3. Stop Crunching: If you can’t resist the urge, don’t crunch on your ice cube. Instead, let it melt in your mouth.

4. Choose Slush: Replace your regular ice cubes with softer options, like shaved ice. It will be less harmful to your smile.

5. Address Underlying Cause: Determine what’s driving your addiction, like a compulsion or iron deficiency.

6. Chew Gum: Grab a piece of sugarless gum to avoid sneaking ice from the freezer. You’ll protect your teeth from damage while also improving your dental health. Gum encourages saliva production to cleanse your mouth between brushing and flossing.

7. Crunch on Vegetables

If you still need a cooling crunching sensation, pick some carrot sticks, apple slices, or celery for a snack. Your mouth and body will appreciate the switch.

Don’t let a bad habit compromise your smile. If you need additional help to stop chewing ice, ask your dentist for more ideas.

About Dr. James L. Schumacher

Dr. Schumacher earned his dental degree over 40 years ago at the University of Florida. He has continued his education at various prestigious institutions, including the L.D. Pankey Institute. He offers the advanced solutions you need for optimal oral health. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

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