Old habits die hard! Do you find yourself chewing ice present in your cold drink even now?
Well, you must have liked to do that when you were younger.
But somehow that habit is reminiscent of your childhood and you still love to do it.
Nostalgic as it may be, chewing ice has a detrimental effect on your teeth.
Therefore, it is a habit or activity that you must break, preferably at an early age.
In this article, we will discuss how chewing on ice cubes affects your teeth and what you can do to get rid of this habit.
So let’s dive in!
Why Do People Chew Ice?
If you are not one who chews ice or a parent of children who chew ice, you may wonder, why do they do that in the first place?
Well, for many it is simply a habit they develop over time.
Hence, whenever, they come across the ice, they will chew it out of habit.
Clearly, it is enjoyable for children or people to do that which is why they cannot fall out of the habit.
However, for adults, it is sometimes more than simply a habit.
Some may start chewing ice because they suffer from dry mouth.
In a dry mouth, the salivary glands secrete less saliva.
Thus, the mouth feels parched and dry.
Doing this helps to relieve some of the dryness of your mouth and can actually be soothing.
However, the better option is to suck on the ice cubes rather than chew them directly.
Another reason why people may prefer to chew ice is that it helps to relieve stress.
It is hard to chew and that action can help in providing some relaxation.
You may be surprised to know that it can also help reduce hunger cravings.
Chewing ice basically mimics the action and sensation of eating.
Though, the catch is that you are not taking any calories.
So you can satisfy your cravings by deluding your mind that you are actually eating.
While it may not last as long and the hunger pangs will kick in when you are on an empty stomach, it can temporarily satisfy the cravings.
Therefore, people usually have different reasons for not foregoing this activity.
But there are a lot more reasons to give it up already.
These include the damage they incur on teeth which can have a lasting detrimental effect on your oral health.
More on that below!
How Chewing Ice is Bad For Teeth?
Cracks and Chips Teeth
Ice is not a soft material to chew on.
In fact, it is a really hard object.
As strong as your teeth may be, they are not a tool made to crush ice.
In that case, the action can easily crack or chip the tooth.
When you chew ice, it has sharp edges that can crack teeth plus, that puts more pressure on smaller areas of your mouth.
Small fractures may exist in your teeth unbeknownst to you.
These can get worse over time and result in a bigger fracture.
Immediately schedule an appointment with your dentist as that can help repair the fractured tooth timely.
Damages the Enamel
The enamel is one of the hardest substances in your body.
However, ice can damage it.
It can cause cracks in the enamel.
Hence, that can lead to tooth sensitivity as well as cavities.
Chewing on ice is damaging to the nerves in your teeth because of the drastic change in temperature.
Therefore, you will feel cold and hot triggers more strongly.
If you already suffer from sensitive teeth, then the damage can worsen.
Plus, when your enamel is damaged, it can allow bacteria to penetrate the dentin.
This can increase your risk of getting cavities and you will need fillings to recover your teeth.
Thus, any damage to your teeth is more likely if your enamel wears down due to chewing ice.
Besides these, there are other harms to your teeth by the action of chewing on ice.
Let’s discuss that in detail below.
Destroys Oral Appliances, Gums and Fillings
If you already wear oral appliances such as a retainer, braces, and expanders or have previous dental work like fillings, crowns and veneers then your teeth are more susceptible to damage from chewing ice.
However, if you chew ice with these appliances on, there is a huge risk of dislodging and damaging them.
The wires can dislodge and the brackets can become damaged too.
Thus, it is important to avoid chewing ice altogether if you wear any of the dental appliances.
When it comes to fillings, ice is a freezing cold object and putting that in your mouth can expand your fillings.
Other than that, they can also crack or dislodge.
If you lose a filling, you will need to immediately go to your dentist before your condition worsens.
This is because when fillings expand, they will only last for a shorter time.
Hence, you will have to go to the dentist more often and spend more bucks on your teeth than a normal filling procedure would have cost you.
Besides, chewing on ice does not damage only your teeth but also your gums.
A sharp and hard ice cube can easily puncture your gum tissue.
It can hurt a lot and there may also be some bleeding if not swelling.
However, your gum tissue is already at risk of injury with the food you eat, some of which can be hard and chewy.
So there can be a danger of gingivitis and periodontal disease.
You don’t want to worsen the situation by also chewing on ice cubes every now and then.
Alongside, teeth, gums and oral appliances, this habit can have a detrimental effect on your health.
How? Let’s find out!
How Does Chewing Ice Affect Health?
Well, if you have a bit of chewing ice then it is likely your tolerance for eating cold things is high.
However, it can also sometimes cause a brain freeze.
The same cold ice can also cause you a headache and result in soreness in the jaw.
Moreover, whenever you are biting, chewing and grinding the hard ice with your jaw and teeth.
Therefore there is a risk that soreness develops in your jaw.
Furthermore, you can irritate the soft tissues in your mouth.
This can lead to toothache.
Thus, eating ice can overall affect your health besides your oral health.
What’s more concerning is why you cannot get rid of this activity.
A nutritional deficiency such as anemia can increase the urge to chew on ice.
If you lack iron then you may have a craving for repeatedly chewing ice.
Iron deficiency can cause oral inflammation.
Hence, the need to chew on ice may arise from wanting to soothe the inflammation.
Also, coldness pushes oxygenated blood to the brain.
So for anemics, it can help them stay alert and also create an anti-inflammatory effect.
Besides that, obsessive-compulsive disorders, stress and developmental disorders can be behind your craving.
Therefore, you should implore where the urge is emerging from and tackle that first as it could be a serious underlying health problem.
Alongside that, lookout for ways to stop chewing ice habitually too.
You may be wondering how to do that? Well, we have you sorted!
How to Stop Chewing Ice?
You can either completely abandon ice from your drinking and eating habits or you can choose alternatives.
Go for Alternatives
Craving ice or something cold? Then go for shaved ice.
You can also try popsicles, cool drinks or slushies. Anything, but hard ice.
These softer alternatives are much easier to chew and may not pose harm such as fractures and chipping of teeth.
However, be mindful, that popsicles and flavored shaved ice will contain lots of sugars that will make your teeth susceptible to cavities.
Eat Something Else Other Than Ice
That will be hard but whenever you crave ice, eat something healthier instead.
Go for that sliced apples, carrots and leafy green vegetables that are good for your oral and overall health.
These crunchy vegetables will give you satisfaction similar to that of ice while also stimulating saliva in your mouth.
Giving It Up
That is the hardest to do but give it some time.
Avoid freezing ice and putting it in your drinks.
When there will be no ice, you will not be tempted to eat it too.
Plus, the icemakers and trays have tonnes of bacteria too that you will end up avoiding if you don’t freeze ice.
Melting Cubes in Mouth
If you cannot skip ice then at least do the bare minimum of not chewing them immediately.
Hold the ice cubes in your mouth, let them melt in the mouth and this way you will feel a cooler and refreshing sensation for longer.
Take Iron Supplements
If it does stem from iron deficiency then taking supplements is your best bet.
Also, eating more iron-rich foods can help with reducing the habit of chewing ice and give you healthier teeth and oral health.