Medical and Science

Did You Know Chewing Ice is Bad for Your Teeth?

Is Chewing Ice Bad for your Teeth

Photo by [jennifererix] morgueFile

This is sort of an interesting one. We hear different things about what’s good for us and what’s not. And as children we were all told not to chew on things in fear of damaging our teeth.

But did you know chewing ice is bad for your teeth? I know it seems strange to imagine how something with no sugar or abrasives what so ever could actually be harmful to your teeth, but let’s go into the reasons why…

First let me start you off with an interesting fact on the subject.

Pagophagia is the scientific term used to describe the act of chewing ice.

There, I bet you didn’t know that one…lol That’s ok folks, because until I did my research on the subject, neither did I.

Why Chewing Ice Bad for Your Teeth

So as you know two of the most destructive things that our teeth can come into contact with are Hard Surfaces and Sudden Changes in Temperature. And as we all know, ice has plenty of both of those things.

Chewing Ice and the Ole Chipped Tooth?

As mentioned before, hard surfaces and rapid temperature changes are both quite bad for your teeth, but why you may ask?

When your teeth come in contact with extreme cold temperatures, the fibers in your teeth will contract. As they’re contracting you’re also combining the scenario with your teeth being slammed with something rock hard. This makes for a more brittle situation where the ole chompers are concerned.

Normally this won’t pose any issue, but if you happen to bite down on just the right piece or bite down on it just right, it’s possible a chipped tooth could be the result.

Are Older Teeth More Likely to Chip?

Normally, unless you’re in the hospital and being fed ice chips, children are more often the candidates for ice chewing. That being said, a tooth that will chip is normally already weakened by age. Such things as micro-fractures, fillings and other previous dental work may weaken the tooth and cause it to chip more easily. Therefore children are a lot less likely to wind up with a chipped tooth from chewing ice than adults would be.

Of course a child still sporting their baby teeth should be even less of a concern. But for children wearing braces or retainers, they should be especially careful because a broken bracket or bent wire could be the outcome.

Why Do People Chew Ice?

Ice chewing is often times associated with an iron deficiency anemia. A previous study, performed in 1968, found that over 60% of ice-chewing subjects were anemic. Even more amazing, is that in all cases but one, when the anemia was finally treated, they all ceased their daily ice chewing.

It’s not quite clear why anemia and ice chewing go hand and hand, but some believe it’s a way of numbing the mouth pain associated with anemia. Of course the only way to tell if your ice chewing is a possible sign you may be anemic is to consult your doctor. More times than not, a simple iron supplement will rid you of the deficiency.

Did you know ice chewing could be bad for your teeth?  Let’s discuss it further in the comments below…

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10 thoughts on “Did You Know Chewing Ice is Bad for Your Teeth?
  1. I had never heard of a reason to chew ice, I simply thought it was a way to get moisture in the mouth. As usual, Robert, great information. I ,look forward to my ‘odd random thoughts’ coffee break to get more information I never knew was out there.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Marion. It’s a pleasure to have you as a regular reader. I hope the blog forever remains a part of your coffee breaks! 😀

  2. Lucky I don’t eat ice great article it really covers understands to ice maybe my mom should read this cause she never listens

  3. According to my dentist, it’s not just ice that’s bad for teeth. ALL the cold foods and drinks we Americans are so fond of, including ice cream, beer, soft drinks, iced tea and ice water, contribute to the breakdown of our tooth enamel. Hot foods and drinks are bad, too. Consuming hot and cold foods at the same time is even worse. Love hot coffee with your ice cream? Then start saving your money right now, because, like me, you’ll be spending many thousands of dollars on dental crowns and veneers later on.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Markeloff.

      It’s great to hear from others real world experience on this issues. Although it is hard to avoid all combinations of hot/cold food experiences, it’s definitely a good idea to be mindful of it.

      I appreciate you bring these other dangerous food items to out attention as well.

  4. I never thought that chewing ice could be damaging for your teeth, but I can certainly see why it would be, especially for those with weaker teeth. The pressure from the hard ice could be enough to crack or damage the tooth, which would require a crown or filling to repair it. Chewing ice would not be worth such extensive dental work. Do you know of any other habits people have that are damaging to their teeth or other body parts?

    1. Hi Audrey,

      There’s probably a ton of things that could potentially be harmful to your teeth. I would certainly say chewing on any foreign object of any kind other than food would have the potential to be dangerous.

      Especially those that like to open things with their teeth, such as packaging, or bottle tops etc.

  5. I remember chewing a lot of ice when I was younger while my mother scolded me and told me it was bad for my teeth, and now I know why it is. It makes sense that it would cause you some tooth pain because of, as said above, how hard and cold they are. Not only is most ice hard, but it’s also solid, so it’s not like quickly cracking open some shell of sorts.

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