Summer will be here soon. When the weather heats up, you may turn to refreshing drinks like iced coffee, iced tea, and even plain old ice water to help you stay cool. It can be tempting to chew on the ice cubes that are left in your cup after you finish your drink — but it’s a temptation that you should resist. Chewing on ice can damage your oral health. Let’s talk about why it is bad for your teeth and what you can do to break free from the habit.
Dangers of Chewing on Ice
On the Mohs hardness scale, tooth enamel is usually around a 5. It is the hardest substance in the human body, and it is even harder than steel! As impressive as tooth enamel is, however, it is brittle, which means that even substances that are softer than it — including ice — can damage it.
The habit of chewing on ice increases the risk that you will chip or break a tooth and need to visit an emergency dentist. Your teeth may even form tiny cracks that, although they are not visible, will increase your dental sensitivity. You may develop cavities more easily than non-ice chewers. Chewing on ice may also damage the fillings and crowns that are already on your teeth.
Breaking the Habit
Here are some tips to help you enjoy ice without damaging your teeth:
- Suck on the ice. Sucking on ice chips can help you to stay cool without endangering your teeth.
- Switch to nugget ice. Nugget ice is made up of layers of flaked ice bits with pockets of air in between them. It is softer than ice cubes and ice chips and is thus less risky for your teeth.
- Find another satisfying crunch. If the crunch of chewing on ice appeals to you, try switching out ice for a healthy, crunchy snack. Carrots, celery, and apples are all great choices.
Monitor Your Health
An irresistible craving for ice can be related to iron deficiency. The reason for this is unclear, but some researchers believed it is because ice can increase alertness in people who suffer from iron deficiency anemia. If you find it particularly difficult to break your habit of chewing on ice, your doctor might recommend that you start taking an iron supplement.
You may also find it beneficial to speak to your dentist, especially if you have been in the habit of chewing on ice for years. Your dentist can let you know if the ice has caused any damage to your teeth and whether you require treatment to improve your oral health.
Breaking the ice is fine… just don’t do it with your teeth. Resisting the temptation to chew on ice can help your teeth stay healthy and whole.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Erick Anderson is a general and emergency dentist in Colorado Springs. He has decades of experience in his field, and he is always ready to give patients personalized advice to help them improve their oral health. To learn more about Dr. Anderson and his services, contact our practice at 719-593-0988.