Is it Bad to Chew Ice?
Your whole life, you’ve probably heard things like:
“Chewing ice can break your teeth.”
“Don’t chew ice, it will damage your dental work.”
“If you chew ice, it means you’re anemic.”
But are these sayings true?
It turns out there’s some truth behind each of these statements, even if chewing ice doesn’t result in injury 100% of the time. But if it’s a habit you tend to do several times a week, you need to take note. Over time, you may wind up with dental (or medical) bills that could have otherwise been avoided.
Dental Materials Contracting and Expanding
Think back to elementary school, when you learned how things expand and contract depending on their temperature. It’s the same when you put ice inside of your mouth. If you have any dental work — such as fillings — they will respond differently to the cold temperature than the tooth around them does.
If your teeth and fillings contract and expand at different rates, it can cause the bond between them to break down. The filling becomes loose, leaky, or may even result in your tooth cracking the next time you bite down.
Pressure and Broken Teeth
Ice comes in various textures. If you’re chewing and biting down onto more condensed ice cubes, it’s practically the same thing as grinding on a jawbreaker candy or rocks — your teeth will eventually give out. Although enamel is the hardest thing in your entire body, it can’t withstand biting into something that hard over and over. If you’ve been lucky until now, that’s great. But it’s usually a matter of time before a weak area (like a crack or filling) suddenly breaks.
However, softer types of ice — like the small round pellets you find in fountain drink machines — are usually easier and safer to chew. If you feel like you must suck on or chew ice, this is the type of texture that you want to be sure you’re sticking to.
Are You Anemic?
Although it’s technically an old wives’ tale that people who chew ice are anemic, certain medical professionals will tell you that there’s some truth to it. If you find yourself constantly craving ice, it won’t hurt to go ahead and start supplementing your iron levels. Iron can be taken via a multivitamin, but it’s also found in leafy green vegetables like fresh spinach.
In the worst-case scenario, ask your physician about your iron levels during your next annual physical. He or she may recommend a small blood draw just to make sure that everything is ok.
Some people’s teeth tend to be more sensitive than others. Factors such as gum recession, exposed root surfaces, and use of whitening toothpastes or similar products may compound the symptoms. When you chew ice, it may lead to pain that leaves you wondering if something is wrong with your teeth.
If you’re having trouble breaking an ice-chewing habit, be sure to see a Kois Dentist regularly to keep your smile healthy!