Chewing Ice and Your Teeth

Especially during a hot summer day here in Arizona, it’s common for people to chomp down on ice cubes to help them cool down. The problem is that chewing ice really does a number on your teeth. Good oral hygiene habits and proper dental care should make for a lifetime of healthy teeth, but the violent crunching of ice inside your mouth can cause tooth fractures, cracking and chipping.

Chewing ice can:

  • Wear down your tooth enamel
  • Increase tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Make your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

Your teeth can handle a load and resist pressure, but if you put too much of a load on them, they can fracture. Ice is a very hard substance that can overload the ability of your teeth to withstand the force of chewing it. Combined with the cold temperatures, this seemingly harmless habit can lead to small fractures developing in your teeth over time. Those small fractures can eventually turn into larger fractures, and you may not notice any immediate effect that chewing ice has on your teeth until the tiny microfractures progress until the weakened part of the tooth fails and you lose a piece of it. Another big risk is when you’ve had dental work, such as veneers or fillings.

If you find yourself wanting to crunch on something, go for baby carrots, celery or apple chunks. Another good option is sugar-free gum, because the act of chewing actually promotes saliva flow, which helps buffer your teeth from plaque-causing bacteria. You just have to make sure that your teeth can handle what you’re chewing on. In some cases, people can actually develop an ice-chewing habit. This can even be related to some types of anemia. If you have difficulty kicking your ice habit, talk to your dentist about it.