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How does chewing ice affect your teeth?

My mother has always told me chewing ice is bad for my teeth, but could never provide an explanation. Thanks for your help!

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Featured Answer

69 UpVoted this answer Amarjot S Sajan, DDS Dentist, Victoria
Chewing is a mechanical process, subject to mechanical principles. Teeth are designed to bare load and resist pressure. However, if we place too much load on the teeth there can be fracturing. Ice is a very hard substance and can over load the ability of our teeth to withstand the force of chewing it. You may not notice that there is any effect until small micro fractures progress to the point that a part of the tooth fails and there is missing tooth structure or pain. It is always good to listen to your mother.
44 UpVoted this answer
Chewing Ice doesnt effect your teeth unless you have large mercury fillings that could break your teeth and cause the need for crowns. IF you have no restorations and health teeth it should be of no concern.
Mark Morin
34 UpVoted this answer
Dear patient! I always recommend our patient not to chew on ice, since ice can fracture your teeth. Of course, don't think this will never happen to you because I have seen many teeth crack from years of chewing ice/hard things, even teeth without fillings! This even happened to our office manager! If the fracture extend down to the root, then there is nothing can be done to fix the tooth and will need to be removed. Your teeth may already have small micro-fractures and you are not even aware of it from years of chewing. Best to avoid chewing ice or extra hard things or use your teeth to open bottle caps to prevent future unnecessary dental treatments and costs! All the best to you! -- Lisa Wu DMD
Lisa Wu
22 UpVoted this answer
Small ice chips or crushed ice is rarely an issue. Large ice chips are very hard and as with hard candy will cause a large amount of pressure/strain to be placed on a small area of a tooth. This leads to the development of cracks. I have seen healthy teeth fracture down the middle as a result of biting or crunching on hard food objects.
16 UpVoted this answer
Daniel that is a great question and one that is often an issue. When a patient comes in to my office for an emergency visit due to a broken tooth it is not typically because that patient was chewing gum or eating jello. It’s usually revealed that they were chewing ice, bit into a shell or a fruit pit or in rare cases bit down on a tiny pebble that somehow made its way in to the food that was prepared. Ice is hard just like a fruit pit, a nut shell or a tiny pebble. Your jaw muscles have the potential to apply approximately 300 lbs. per square inch and when that pressure is applied during chewing against a hard material, your teeth cannot withstand it therefore something has to give and that something is almost always your tooth. Also, if you are chewing ice regularly and your tooth hasn’t broken yet, just give it some time. What you don’t see are the many, tiny, little, hairline fractures you are creating in your enamel which are weakening the strength of your teeth, like a small crack in a windshield, eventually it is going to fail. So guess what ……Mom was right.

Thank you again for the question,

Dr. Paul Yeager D.D.S.
Paul Yeager
15 UpVoted this answer
Chewing ice is one of the worst dental habits you can have. The reason for this is the force of chewing on the ice combined with the cold temperatures. This combination can lead to small fractures developing in your teeth over time which can eventually lead to larger fractures as well as tooth sensitivity.
10 UpVoted this answer
Ice chewing, or for that matter, chewing anything very hard & brittle such as ice, hard candy, popcorn kernels, or the like, will cause micro-cracks in the outer enamel surface of the teeth.

The same little crack lines that begin in the ice, also propagate in the enamel.

As this progresses, it leads to tooth fracture.
Robert Radin
8 UpVoted this answer
Chewing Ice can cause micro fractures in your teeth over time . As these micro fractured turn to real cracks , teeth can begin to break apart and eventually in need of crowns or worse root canals & crowns and possibly extractions. I would avoid this habit as it has no benefit aside from damaging your teeth .
6 UpVoted this answer
Enamel is the outer most layer of the tooth, is the hardest material in your body and protects the tooth from wearing down. However, it is very brittle and it will chip and dissolve in acid such as found in a soft drink. Chewing on ice will chip or break the enamel. In serve cases, the protective layer is worn down or chipped and dentin, which is underneath the enamel and a softer material, is exposed which may cause sensitivity. It may be necessary to restore the affected tooth with full coverage such as a crown.

Remember to take good care of your teeth including regular check ups,,cleanings and good home care will give you beautiful and healthy smile! Also, consider using a straw when drinking liquids containing ice.
Sun Costigan
6 UpVoted this answer
Ice is a very hard substance and can cause small cracks to form in your teeth which could lead to decay and even fractured teeth!. Michael A Schneider DMD