Chewing ice is very hard on your teeth. It can result in broken teeth, damage to teeth previously treated with fillings or bonding, and/or worn dental enamel. Persistent ice chewing may lead to the need to visit with your dentist.
Some people like to chew ice, but for some it has become a habit. The need to habitually chew on ice is called pagophagia. It is part of the pica family of habits (where people are compelled to chew on something with no nutritional value). This may be a sign of some type of anemia or vitamin/mineral deficiency.
Other reasons people chew ice may be due to boredom (some people bite fingernails to combat boredom – another bad habit); to help with stress; as a solution for a dry mouth; or as a means to break an addiction to something like tobacco use or overeating.
Munching on ice can also be aggravating to those around you. Whether at work or an atmosphere where those around you expect quiet (library, movie theatre, a play), the constant sound of ice chewing can be considered rude or inconsiderate.
Alternatives to chewing on ice would include:
- Keep a bottle of water handy (especially if you chew ice to combat a dry mouth). Drinking water is good habit that will not damage your teeth, and might even help you achieve better overall health.
- Chew sugar free gum.
- Have ready access to crunchy alternatives that are healthy for you such as carrots, celery, or an apple.
Continuing to bite ice cubes can lead to costly and time consuming dental repairs. You may require multiple visits to your dental office to correct broken teeth (dental crowns); fix previously placed fillings; treat gum recession and worn dentition; investigate ongoing problems with jaw discomfort; and if you escape all of these problems early on, the habit of chewing ice will likely result in the eventual need for some type of dental repair.
If you feel repetitive ice chewing is beyond your control, your dentist will work with you to determine if you are truly suffering from a nutritional deficiency or it is just a mindless habit that you will need to quit to save your dentition. Just as smoking or overeating are difficult habits to break, it is possible … saving your teeth is a worthy goal.
Call our team if you have more questions!