There are many little habits people have that help them get through their day. Some, like making your bed and consistently drinking water, are beneficial to your well-being. However, there are others that can negatively impact you. A prime example is chewing ice. While this oral habit may be soothing and fun, it can cause damage to your smile. Read on to learn more about how chewing ice and your dental health are linked.
First Things First: Why Do People Chew on Ice?
There are a few reasons why people chew on ice. It can be an unconscious habit that is caused by boredom or stress. Other motivations include relief from dry mouth or an attempt to control hunger based on cutting back on calories.
However, there are some medical reasons why people chew on the “cold cubes”. They may suffer from pica, which is a medical condition that occurs when people have a craving for chewing and eating things that have little or no nutritional value (i.e., ice, dirt, chalk). The most common form of this disorder is pagophagia, the compulsive consumption of ice or iced drinks. Studies have found that it’s usually the result of iron deficiency anemia. Medical professionals predict that anemics are compelled to chew on ice cubes so they can soothe oral inflammations caused by iron deficiencies.
How Chewing Ice Harms Your Smile
While chewing ice may seem harmless, especially in comparison to other addictions, it can still cause dental damage. Ice is very hard on your teeth and can cause them to become chipped or cracked if you munch on it constantly. Additionally, it can also wear down your enamel, cause sore jaw muscles, and harm your existing dental work like crowns or fillings. It can also cause tooth sensitivity to develop when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages.
How Can You Break an Ice-Chewing Habit?
Habits can be challenging to break since they are such ingrained behaviors. However, it’s possible to stop chewing ice by implementing a few tips, such as:
- Visit your general doctor: By getting a physical exam and checkup from your medical doctor, they can determine if you have anemia and provide any necessary treatment.
- Switch to an alternative: If you resort to chewing ice due to a dry mouth or trying to quit smoking, simply swap out ice cubes with a favorite cold drink, a deliciously flavored popsicle, or a yummy slushy.
- Opt for melting rather than chewing: If letting go of ice seems too daunting, try slowly melting the ice in your mouth rather than chewing on it. You’ll still get the cool sensation while also protecting your pearly whites.
- Find another satisfying crunch: If it’s the crunch that appeals to you in your habit, look for a healthier alternative to satisfy your craving. Carrots, apples, and celery are a few excellent options that will benefit your health and your smile.
About the Author
Dr. Terri Alani keeps the smiles of Houston whole, healthy, and beautiful. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Texas Houston. With over 30 years of experience, she provides a comprehensive range of services, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic care. To schedule an appointment, contact her through her website or call (703) 998-4244.