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Ice Ice Baby

 I have to admit, I take pleasure in crunching ice between my teeth from time to time. As I was crunching on a piece this week at lunch, it spurred the idea for this post. Lots of people chew ice, so I scoured the internet for interesting ice-chewing stories. Turns out, there are forums and sites out there for people that are addicted to chewing ice. I don’t mean that they make sure they finish all of the ice in their cups at meals or have ice for a snack. These are people who are full-on addicted to chewing ice.” Here are some of their stories:

“For me it is icicles. I normally pass by a car lot where they sell cars. Ice forms on the cars and it then runs down on the side forming icicles. I go there deep in the snow so that I can break off the icicles to eat. Someone might think I am trying to break into the cars. I mean look at the icicles here and see how delicious they look, especially the ones on the roofs I have had to break those too often. Sometimes I cut off a huge chunk and then it is freezing my hand. Now the winter is going and that makes me sad. Now is back to the coffee house when the cravings get hold of me and I am outside the house:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icicles” – murigo

“I have actually purchased a SCOTSMAN MDT2C12 TOUCHFREE CUBELET ICE MAKER/DISPENSER!! (Found on e-bay, paid $2250 for the thing) This is THEE machine that makes SONIC ice. I swear I have this down to a science . . . . If I take out about a pitcher’s worth of ice ( and give it to my plants so I’m not “wasting water”) then the machine kicks in and starts making that amazing ice that sticks to your teeth . . the really fresh cool stuff. I will literally chew ice until I am shivering, and sometimes I will go to bed with a front toothache that radiates up past my nose and into my forehead. I’ve actually wrapped in a heating blanket, chewing ice, as I’m watching tv, using the computer, etc. I chew ice when I’m folding laundry, cleaning the windows, polishing the floor, driving, taking a bath . . . it’s out of control I know!!! I have 2 chipped molars due to chewing, but my dentist has never lectured me. I know for a fact that I chew over 10 lbs a day because of the amount the ice machine can produce.” – chewininco

“Be it from the supermarket or my house I’ll eat it anywhere. Once I actually got in trouble with my mum again cuz she caught scraping the excess ice off of the boxes in the ice cream section in the supermarket. The bus stop close to my house is actually right outside a shop that has the most crunchiest and thickest chunks of ice i have seen but it’s so irritating i can only get a few pieces in my mouth before the boss sees me and kicks me out, so i make it worthwhile.” – IcE BaBy

Chewing ice puts an immense amount of pressure on the teeth. While the dentin in your teeth can be flexible, the enamel is hard. In fact, it’s the hardest substance in the human body. Putting that much pressure on the enamel can cause fractures in the enamel. Even microscopic fractures created by chewing ice can develop into bigger fractures and cracks in the teeth. If the ice doesn’t cause fractures or cracks, chronic ice chewing will still wear down the enamel faster than what is considered normal and the potential for cavities will be much greater.

Some people chew ice until their gums bleed. This increases risk for infection, gingivitis, and gum recession. If your gums are bleeding due to your chewing, you need to break the habit and you should make an appointment for a dental exam.

Ice chewing is big no-no for braces patients. Aside from potentially damaging teeth, chewing ice can cause brackets to break or come loose, wires to bend inappropriately or come loose and poke patients.

Not only can chewing ice have an impact on your dental health, but it may also be a sign of other health conditions including iron-deficiency anemia, nutritional problems, stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and in some younger patients, developmental disorders. Dentists use the term “pica” to describe craving and chewing substances with no nutritional value. If you do experience a need to chew ice or other substances, it might be worth a visit to a doctor just to make sure you are mentally and physically healthy.

If you chew ice chronically, it’s in your best interest to break the habit. You might try ordering your drinks with no ice, or drinking only from a straw. If it’s the crunch you like, try carrots or celery sticks. The cold rush of that icy crunch isn’t worth the cold panic you’ll feel when you crack a tooth.