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Why Chewing Ice is Bad for Your Teeth

WE HEAR A LOT that it’s bad to chew ice. It’s because ice can do a lot of damage to our teeth and gums. As your South San Francisco dentists, we encourage you to stop this habit and share this knowledge with others who you see have picked up this habit too.

Extreme Temperature Changes Versus Enamel

Tooth enamel might be the strongest substance in the body, but it’s also brittle. The issue with ice isn’t just that it’s hard, it’s also that it’s cold. Extreme temperature changes cause tooth enamel to expand and contract, creating tiny cracks and weakening the overall structure. It’s the same thing that happens to pavement in places that get snow.

Gum Injuries and Tooth Damage

While weaker enamel can lead to tooth sensitivity and vulnerability to decay, ice also isn’t good for gum tissue. It’s so cold that it creates a numbing effect, which can make it difficult to notice if it causes an injury to the gums. It’s also hard enough to break or chip teeth.

Where Do the Cravings Come From?

Why crave ice if there are only downsides to chewing it? The scientific term for compulsive ice eating is pagophagia. It could indicate an eating disorder called pica (the compulsion to eat non-food items, or it could be related to iron deficiency anemia. The chill of ice stimulates blood flow, counteracting low oxygen levels in the brain, but that only treats a symptom of anemia, not the cause.

Ask your dentist if you have questions about your ice chewing habit and possible damage in your teeth. If it's also been more than 6 months since your last visit, now is the time to schedule your next visit! You can request an appointment online or give us a call or text at (650) 871-1400!


The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.



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