Dental Health PSA: Stop Chewing Ice!

Glass filled with Ice and Hand Holding Ice Cube

If your dentist has ever told you to stop, or avoid, chewing ice, you may be wondering why. After all, ice is no-calorie and can’t possibly be a risk to your teeth, can it? The unfortunate truth is that this habit, which some find to be satisfying and a good way to avoid snacking, can cause significant harm to your teeth. Ice isn’t easy to chew; it repeatedly places undue pressure on our teeth with every bite. However, that’s just the start of the risks of chewing ice. Come with us as the team at Dickey Dental explores the risks of chewing ice.

The Potential Consequences of Habitually Chewing Ice

The phenomenon of chewing ice is widespread and can indicate hidden health issues or mental health concerns. Medical science refers to this habit by its own distinct term: pagophagia. In addition to being bad for your teeth, it often serves as a marker for health conditions, including poor nourishment and pica. Pica is a mental health concern that causes those afflicted to consume large quantities of non-food substances. These substances include mud, dirt, hair, pebbles, and ice. Even without these health conditions, chewing ice is a habit that’s bad for oral health.  

Chewing ice can impact your oral health in the following ways:

  • Damaging Enamel – It may “just” be frozen water, but ice can cause significant damage to our enamel. Despite being the most durable material in our bodies, it can still chip, crack, or be worn down over time. When enamel is lost, it will not regrow and thus is lost forever. 
  • Increased Tooth Fracture Risk – Along with general damage to your enamel, chewing ice presents a genuine risk of fracturing your teeth. These fractures can range from partial to full fractures. Fractures create open channels that can introduce bacteria into the deeper areas of your tooth. This can lead to infection, sensitivity, pain, and needing treatments such as dental restoration.
  • Nerve Numbness – Cold is an excellent way of soothing certain kinds of pain. This is due to the numbing properties it possesses. However, by that same token, it can impact our ability to sense pain and pressure while chewing it. This can lead us to misjudge the amount of pressure we’re applying to the ice, making it more likely for us to damage our teeth.
  • Irritated Gums – Our gums can be susceptible to temperature and easily be harmed by the sharp edges of shattered ice. While the cracking and crunching of ice can be very satisfying, it can also produce sharp edges that can cut our gums and other oral tissues. Every time you bite down on a piece of ice, you risk causing a sharp edge that can slice and cause real injury.
  • Dental Sensitivity – Constant chewing of ice can acclimate our teeth to lower temperatures. This, along with the wear and tear on the enamel, can cause our teeth to become unusually sensitive to temperature changes. Dental sensitivity can range from mildly uncomfortable to excruciating and can meaningfully impact our ability to eat well.

Contact Dickey Dental For More Ice Chewing Risks

The risk of chewing ice doesn’t stop there. This habit has a surprising range of potential risks associated with it. Learn more by reaching out to our team at (803) 329-2126 or stopping by our offices in Rock Hill, SC.