You have probably heard before that it’s bad to chew ice, but do you know why that is? Let’s take a closer look at damage ice can do to teeth and why many people want to chew ice in the first place.
Why Do People Eat Ice
Pagophagia: Compulsive Ice Eating
Ice eating actually has a scientific name: pagophagia. It isn’t just a bad habit; it can actually indicate an eating disorder called pica, which involves the compulsion to eating things that aren’t food and have zero nutritional value, including hair, dirt, clay and even ice. A nutritional deficiency can cause pica.
Ice Eating And Iron Deficiency Anemia:
Studies in recent years suggest a connection between compulsively eating ice and iron deficiency anemia. A condition 20% of women (50% of pregnant women) and 3% 0f men experience.
Iron levels might seem like an odd thing to be linked to an ice eating habit, considering that there is no iron in ice, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen through out the body effectively. Someone who is iron deficient is therefore not getting as much oxygen to their brain. Eating ice stimulates blood flow to head (and brain), which gives a temporary boost to alertness and clarity of thought.
Stress and emotional issues – It may be soothing to chew on something as a means of reducing stress or nerves.
OCD – Someone with obsessive thoughts can find chewing ice a good solution to satisfy those behaviours.
Dehydration – Always being thirsty or having a dry mouth can cause someone to want to chew ice to cool them down.
The Effects of chewing Ice On Teeth:
As strong as human teeth are and as hard as tooth enamel is, teeth are not meant to crunch and grind ice cubes (in any quantity or texture). The problem isn’t merely that ice is hard but that it’s so cold. When our teeth experience extreme temperature changes, the enamel expands and contracts, causing tiny cracks and weakening the over all structure just like what happens to pavement in places where it snows.
Teeth Damage :
Although chewing ice is a fairly common habit and mindless activity, it can do a lot of irrevocable damage to the teeth. Teeth are at risk of being chipped, broken and ground down by hard ice cubes constantly crushing against them.
Enamel is as hard as ice and when these two substances rub together, they break each other down.
ADA suggests switching to cold beverages without ice cubes to reduce your frequency of indulging in this habit.
Continuously exposing your teeth to freezing temperatures can cause an imbalance in sensitivity, make it much more affected by hot and cold foods in the future.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you break this bad habit once and for all.
Make it Slushy
Crushed ice is better than whole ice cubes. Really soft, slushy ice that pretty much becomes water by the time it hits your teeth is an ideal alternative to the big frozen crystals, and it still satisfies your need to crunch something.
Use Inedible Ice Cubes
You can find alternatives to ice cubes that you can’t put in your mouth. Some stores sell plastic balls that can be frozen and then plopped into your drinks, helping to keep your beverage cool without compelling you to eat it. Or, you can use a frosted glass!
Switch to Healthy Snacks
Sometimes you just crave something crunchy. That’s totally natural, but instead of continuing to munch on ice, switch to something like carrots or apple slices. That way, you are eating real food that provides you with nutrients and doesn’t put your teeth at risk for breaking.
Treatment Options after the teeth damage:
If your tooth is broken, chipped, or fractured, see your dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, your tooth could be damaged further or become infected, possibly causing you to end up losing the tooth.
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on how severely it is damaged. If only a small piece of enamel broke off, the repair can usually be done simply in one office visit. A badly damaged or broken tooth may require a more lengthy and costly procedure.
Dental Filling or Bonding
If you have chipped off just a small piece of enamel, your dentist may repair the damage with a filling. If the repair is to a front tooth or can be seen when you smile, your dentist will likely use a procedure called bonding, which uses a tooth-coloured composite resin.
Bonding is a simple procedure that typically does not require numbing the tooth. To bond a tooth, the dentist first etches its surface with a liquid or gel to roughen it and make the bonding material stick to it. Next, the dentist applies an adhesive material to the tooth followed by a tooth-coloured resin. After shaping the bonding material to look like a natural tooth, the dentist uses an ultraviolet light to harden the material.
Dental Cap or Crown
If a large piece of tooth breaks off or the tooth has a lot of decay, the dentist may grind or file away part of the remaining tooth and cover it with a crown, or tooth-shaped cap, made to protect the tooth and improve its appearance. Permanent crowns can be made from metal, porcelain fused to metal, all resin, or all ceramic. Different types have different benefits. All-metal crowns are the strongest. Porcelain and resin crowns can be made to look nearly identical to the original tooth.
Root Canal Therapy
If a tooth chip or break is large enough to expose the pulp — the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels — bacteria from the mouth can enter and infect the pulp. If your tooth hurts, changes colour, or is sensitive to heat, the pulp is probably damaged or diseased. Pulp tissue can die and if it’s not removed, the tooth can become infected and need to be extracted. Root canal therapy involves removing the dead pulp, cleaning the root canal, and then sealing it.
Root canal therapy may be performed by general dentists or endodontists. Most root canal therapies are no more painful than having a cavity filled. In most cases, the remaining tooth must be covered with a crown to protect the now-weakened tooth.
If a front tooth is broken or chipped, a dental veneer can make it look whole and healthy again. A dental veneer is a thin shell of tooth-coloured porcelain or resin composite material that covers the whole front of the tooth (much like a false nail covers a fingernail) with a thicker section to replace the broken part of the tooth.
Treatment for Broken or Knocked-Out Teeth
A knocked-out permanent tooth is a dental emergency. Knocked-out teeth can be reimplanted in many cases. A permanent tooth that is reimplanted within 60 minutes has the highest chance of success.
- Collect Teeth or Teeth Fragments
• Handle teeth carefully because damage may prevent reimplantation.
• Touch only the crown, the top part of the tooth. Do not touch the root of the tooth.
• Rinse the tooth gently in a bowl of lukewarm water for no more than 10 seconds only if there is dirt or foreign matter on it. Do not scrub, scrape, or use alcohol to remove dirt.
- Re-Insert or Store Teeth
• Rinse mouth with warm water.
• If possible, reinsert permanent teeth into the correct sockets and have the person bite on a gauze pad to hold teeth in place.
• If you can’t reinsert permanent teeth, or for baby teeth or teeth fragments, store them in whole milk or between your cheek and gum to prevent drying.
- Treat Symptoms
• Control bleeding with sterile gauze or cloth.
• For pain and swelling, apply a cool compress. Encourage a child to suck on an ice pop.
• Immediately take the patient to the dentist.