Is Eating Ice Bad for Your Teeth?

Last updated Wednesday, June 7th, 2023

Is Eating Ice Bad for Your Teeth?

Ice and healthy teeth are the ultimate frenemies. Thirst can be quenched as frozen blocks hit your mouth. The icy blast of refreshing coolness is hard to deny. This invigorating snack-beverage hybrid also costs nothing and is calorie-free.

There is a catch- a big one. Oral health declines. Strong teeth become weak. Weak teeth will need a complete overhaul. Even your gums and jaw suffer. Considering the damage ice does, it’s not very affordable after all.

Here at Smiles by Hanna we see how ice ravages perfectly healthy mouths. It’s unfortunate that an everyday substance can do such harm. Our office has top-of-the-line equipment to help us repair any damage. Dr. Mansoor leads our team with her first-rate dentistry skills.

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Why is Chewing Ice Bad for Your Teeth?

Ice is tough. This compound is great for creating scene-stealing sculptures. As your munchie of choice however, there are far better options.

Rocks are extremely durable. Chips, cracks and abrasions happen when rocks collide in nature. Another naturally hard material is enamel. Known as the body’s strongest substance, a thin layer coats each tooth. When ice is chewed, it’s like a mini-rock collision.

These direct hits can leave a trail of devastation… in your mouth. Expect toothaches and lengthy dental visits. Wave goodbye to your enamel. Once that mineral-laden material is gone, it won’t come back. Without enamel, teeth are vulnerable. 

The Downfalls of Eating Ice

Making a list of pros and cons? Negatives sure outnumber the positives! A chomp here and there may sound tempting but not at your mouth’s expense! Invite better oral health. Curb this habit now.

While you can’t undo damage ice has done, you can stop it from causing more. The sooner you kick the ice chewing habit, the sooner your mouth can recover. 

Reduces Enamel

Your teeth weren’t designed to eat ice. They can’t last as long or do what they’re capable of without enamel. This protective coating lengthens a tooth’s lifespan. Uncovered, a tooth awaits destruction.

Eating ice wears down enamel. Reducing this substance makes getting an A-plus in dental health much harder. It now becomes a game of catch up.   Inner layers are the only protection left.

Teeth live in a nice, toasty area. Enter ice. Pearly whites are repeatedly heated and cooled. Enamel contracts and expands in these unstable temperatures. Fluctuations can cause the slightest of fractures to occur. 

Destroys Enamel

Hairline fractures get worse each time ice is chewed. Little cracks get bigger. Large cracks turn into full-fledged breaks. Once a tooth is exposed, pain is all but certain.

This disaster zone welcomes cavities. You must resort to damage control. Ice chips away at enamel until there’s nothing left. Destroyed enamel signals the beginning of tough times for teeth. 

Fractures Teeth

Tasmanian devil teeth were designed to crush through skulls. Sea otters have dental enamel more than twice as strong as ours allowing them to crack open clamshells. Hyenas happily munch on bones.

Human teeth were not meant for crunching such hard items. Just because ice melts doesn’t make it less harmful than bones. You wouldn’t knowingly bite down on bones, right?

Choosing ice over dental health undermines teeth. An exposed tooth grows weak. Fractures, chips and breaks happen. Dental expertise is needed. 

Leads to Gum Recession

This frozen troublemaker threatens other areas inside mouths. Your gums feel the strain. Gums begin receding under this extra pressure. You’re even more at risk if you have a genetic history of gum recession.

Gums secure teeth in place. As this helpful tissue starts to recede, tooth roots are exposed. Chronic bad breath is noticeable. Things don’t look or feel good in your mouth. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause tooth loss.

Increases Tooth Sensitivity

Enamel helps insulate teeth. You should be able to enjoy that hot chocolate and root beer float. Without this protection, you’ll need to keep foods at room temperature. Or else you’ll feel the pain.

Being sensitive to foods and beverages that aren’t lukewarm can be a drag. Day-old pizza, tap water and crackers come to mind. When enamel leaves, so do options. 

Causes Headaches

It’s no wonder your head begins to hurt. All these aches destroy a mouth’s sense of well-being. As ice is gnawed on, it breaks into sharp prices that can puncture skin inside your mouth. These wounds can lead to infections.

Previous dental work is also at risk. Fillings, bridges and crowns can get damaged. If not handled promptly, headaches let you know there’s a problem. There’s really no benefit to chewing ice. 

Why do You Crave Ice?

Just like other cravings, chewing ice isn’t necessarily something you want to do. You feel a compulsion to munch on this compound. The official term for eating ice is pagophagia. Research suggests one or more reasons could be to blame.

  • A Calcium Deficiency 
  • An Iron Deficiency 
  • Chronic Dry Mouth 
  • Developmental Disorders 
  • Mental Health Issues 
  • Poor Nutrition

Address the issue that’s causing this craving. Then you can stop looking at ice longingly. Your teeth deserve better!

Deficient in Iron

Are you one of the 10 million people in America suffering from an iron deficiency? You could be anemic. This condition is on the rise. Luckily though, it’s easy to increase mineral intake. Choosing iron-rich foods can get you off to a great start. 


A disorder called pica, pronounced PIKE-ah, can cause you to chew ice. Those who suffer from this condition eat things that aren’t food. Pica can cause you to eat items like rocks, hair, dirt or ice.

These materials have little, if any, nutritional value. The worst part is that these food alternatives can cause harm. Eating ice may not damage your intestines like hair and dirt but it can ruin your oral health. 

Remedies to Curb Your Ice Chewing Habit

One of the best strategies to eliminate this craving is to understand why you feel drawn to ice. Treat the source and the problem can clear up on its own. Some ideas to help you pass ice machines without incident include:

  • Getting Tested for Iron Deficiency. When your body lacks iron, it may not tell you in a way you can understand. Don’t chance it. Have your blood drawn. If iron is low, your provider can help. 
  • Make Better Choices. Go for a popsicle instead of an ice cube. Enjoy a shaved ice or partially melted ice. These alternatives are still frozen but to a lesser degree. 
  • Relaxing. Stress can reveal itself in many ways. Find a way to relax so stress doesn’t get to you. Try mediation, self-care and/or yoga. 
  • Seeking Therapy from a Professional. Making your mental health a priority can prove beneficial. A skilled counselor can learn how this habit started. Quitting is within reach. 
  • Skipping Ice Altogether. Order beverages sans ice. If you can’t resist this temptation, try canned or bottled drinks. 
  • Switching to Healthier Snacks. Is crunching what you’re really after? Opt for baby carrots, celery sticks and fresh apple slices.

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