Yes, Chewing Ice is Bad
It seems like the perfect diet discovery: When you get hungry, chew on ice cubes! Chewing on ice gives your mouth something to do and helps you get more water into your body! While this may be true, eating ice is bad for you and one of the worst things you can do for your teeth. Ice chewing can be a difficult habit to break. This article outlines some very real reasons to stop this destructive habit with the hope of give you enough motivation to break your habit.
When ice compresses, it supercools, reaching extremely low temperatures. When you put a cube of ice into your mouth, move the ice to the back of your teeth and chomp down with your molars, you are compressing the ice cube. Humans can exert 60 to 120 pounds of pressure per square inch with a bite. This pressure translates into creating supercooled ice against your teeth. Extreme temperatures like this chills the teeth and briefly makes them more brittle and fragile, which sets up the perfect destructive combo, leading into the next step.
You are biting the ice, and the ice cube is shrinking and cooling under the pressure of your bite. Ice is hard and that by itself can be harmful to your teeth. So you bear down on the ice cube and flex your jaw muscles. Suddenly, the ice shatters and your supercooled teeth slam together. Remember what happened when your science teacher dipped a hotdog in liquid nitrogen? Remember how the hotdog shattered when he dropped it? You have just set up a less dramatic, although similar example in your mouth. When the supercooled ice breaks and your upper and lower teeth slam together, you are slamming two cold and brittle materials together. This supercooling and hammering action will cause micro fractures and cracks in your molars, which will grow over time.
Of course your teeth don't shatter the first time you chew ice. It takes regular and careful persistence in chewing ice to help the micro fractures and cracks in your molars to grow. You may think you are doing your body a favor each time you crunch up a frozen cube, but eventually, it will be your molars that crack and shatter when you chop down.
Chewing ice also wears down the protective enamel of your teeth, so while you have chips and cracks to look forward to in the long term, you can anticipate an increase in cavities in the short term. Dental insurance often won't even cover the nicks and chips chewing ice causes. There are toothpastes that can help protect your enamal, but they won't offset the damage of chewing ice.
Long term ice chewing goes hand in hand with crowns, root canals, and the loss of the teeth. With the average cost of a single crown without insurance being around $2000 and a root canal being $900, these are expensive and painful procedures to have to buy. Is it really worth chewing ice cubes? And if you already have fillings in your molars, chewing ice is even worse as the molar is already weakened by the filling.
Sucking on ice cubes is a different matter. Keep the ice away from your teeth and let the ice melt in your mouth and don't bite down. You can getting the same cooling and hydration benefit, but you are saving your teeth.
For more information on what not to do with your teeth, check our my other articles here: