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Is chewing on ice cubes unhealthy on your tooth? – Gabriela G., age 15, Arlington, Virginia
As a pediatric dentist, I typically get questions from dad and mom and sufferers about chewing ice. They typically wish to know why some folks get pleasure from doing it and whether or not it could actually hurt tooth.
Ice chewing or crunching could hassle these seated across the desk, nevertheless it’s a soothing exercise, particularly for somebody experiencing dry mouth.
It might additionally assist relieve stress or assist with leisure. In some circumstances, folks could chew ice to fulfill starvation cravings as a result of it could actually mimic the feeling of consuming with out ingesting energy.
For others, chomping on ice cubes could merely be a behavior.
Why it’s harmful
Regardless of the trigger, it’s a behavior price breaking. Chewing ice is unhealthy on your oral well being, and for those who’re unfortunate, it might ultimately value you or your dad and mom an costly journey to the dentist or orthodontist.
Chewing ice may result in cracks in enamel, which may result in elevated sensitivity to cold and hot meals and drinks.
When you break or fracture a tooth by chewing ice, you may get a cavity – a gap – in that tooth. That’s as a result of acids produced by micro organism can penetrate the softer layer of the tooth, the dentin, way more simply and trigger tooth decay.
If you have already got fillings, crowns or veneers, or for those who put on braces, use a retainer or have expanders, chewing ice makes you significantly weak to tooth injury.
Relying on the severity of the issue, the restore could require something from a easy filling to a root canal – a extra critical process requiring anesthesia.
Methods to cease
There are a number of methods to kick this behavior.
Soften cubes in your mouth: As an alternative of crunching ice cubes, attempt holding them in your mouth and letting them soften. The satisfying cool sensation and refreshment will last more. And it gained’t injury your tooth or gums.
Cease consuming ice: You can even skip the ice altogether. If it’s not in your glass, there’s no temptation. Along with stopping injury to your tooth, you may additionally keep away from the micro organism that may linger in icemakers.
Contemplate softer alternate options: Changing common cubes with softer varieties of ice, similar to shaved ice, could assist. Attempt to restrict or keep away from flavored gentle ices, nevertheless, as a result of they’ve a lot of sugar, which is unhealthy on your tooth.
Chomp on one thing more healthy: Consuming uncooked carrots, sliced apples or different crisp vegetables and fruit may assist. These meals can fulfill the craving to crunch, whereas stimulating the circulation of saliva, which protects your mouth. The fibrous materials can also assist hold your tooth clear.
In some circumstances, chewing or crunching ice could consequence from an iron deficiency – a situation known as pagophagia – though the explanation for this isn’t clear.
When not one of the above helps somebody cease chewing on ice, dietary adjustments or an iron complement might be required. A physician’s appointment may be so as.
Be careful on your mouth
Taking excellent care of your tooth is vital, particularly by the point you’re about 12 years outdated. Most individuals have misplaced all their child tooth by then.
Your everlasting pearly whites can final for the remainder of your life, particularly for those who brush twice each day with a fluoride toothpaste.
And, for those who’re an ice chewer, check out the alternate options I’ve instructed to see in the event that they do the trick.
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Matthew Cooke doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.