Here in Brooklyn, NY, the summer heat can be quite oppressive. People are doing their best to stay cool: huddling in air conditioned buildings, eating ice cream and cool drinks, or putting ice packs on their person. But there’s one habit of staying cool that could potentially hurt your teeth: chewing on ice cubes. We mean actual cubes straight from the tray or dispenser, not the crushed or chipped ice. While it feels good in the mouth, ice is a durable material that can damage your teeth if you aren’t careful. Read along as Dr. Eugene Stanislaus explains how ice could be more foe than friend for your teeth.
Why Do People Chew Ice Cubes?
For us, the most common reason is the heat. We’re doing all we can to fight back against the summertime shine, and sometimes the air conditioning just isn’t enough. Other times, it could be because you’ve already finished your meal at the restaurant and are chewing on ice to kill time while waiting for your friends to finish. For others, chewing on ice could be a sign of stress or even a medical condition; perhaps they have dry mouth or are getting over a throat sickness.
How is it Dangerous for My Teeth?
It’s all about the pressure and the material. Ice cubes are solid and take enormous strength to bite through. Your teeth are made of a few layers of different minerals to protect the sensitive pulp center. However, these layers are not completely resistant to ice cubes, and are prone to cracking or chipping as a result.
If you have dental implants, braces, dental bridges, or other dental restorations with individual parts, be aware that you could damage them when chewing on ice cubes. This could set your treatment back, or cause costly damage to your dental fixtures.
There’s also the risk of something called micro-cracks, which typically occur on your enamel when there are sudden shifts in temperature. For example, if you had some hot soup for dinner, followed immediately by ice chips, the expansion of enamel can lead to a feeling of tightness or stress in your teeth.
Alternatives to Chewing Ice
While chewing ice may feel cool, it’s not so great for your teeth. Here’s a list of other ways you can replace that ice with something healthier or easier on your teeth:
- Are you bored? If you’re chewing ice because you’re bored while sitting at a restaurant, try chewing gum or ordering a small appetizer instead, to offset the urge to munch and crunch.
- Are you stressed? If you’re chewing ice because you’re stressed due to work, school, etc. try to uncover the source of your stress and work to resolve it. Take a walk, go out with friends, or do something active to take your mind off things.
- Are you feeling too warm? If you’re chewing ice because of the unbearable temperature, use ice packs, cold drinks, or a fan to stay cool.
- Is your mouth feeling dry? It could be a sign of a salivary gland problem. Check the side effects of any new medications you’ve been taking, or tell your doctor about your symptoms. Otherwise, try chewing gum to stimulate saliva flow.
Ask Us About How to Care for Your Teeth
Don’t feel disheartened if you’ve been chewing on ice cubes. Just be aware that while teeth are the hardest substances in the body, they are still susceptible to cracking or breaking from other harder substances. If you have any questions on how to better care for your teeth in Brooklyn, NY, feel free to contact us at Brooklyn Heights Dental for more information. We also encourage patients to explore this infosite if you’re interested in dentures.