27 Oct

Dental expert advises against using the teeth to crush ice

A dental expert has advised the public against using the teeth to crush and chew ice. 

Prof Matthew Cooke, an associate professor of paediatric dentistry and anesthesiology, warned that biting down on ice can cause serious, irreversible damage to the teeth and dental restorations. 

Writing in The Conversation, Prof Cooke said that chewing on ice is a “habit worth breaking” because it increases the risk of damage to the tooth enamel. In some cases, it can also contribute to broken veneers and crowns and problems that affect braces, which are expensive to rectify. If the enamel is damaged, the teeth will become more sensitive, causing discomfort, especially when drinking or eating hot or cold foods. 

Crushing ice can cause fragments of the tooth to fall out and it can also break retainers and braces and damage veneers and replacement crowns.

Prof Cooke, from the University of Pittsburgh Health Science, said that biting down on ice cubes can lead to patients needing remedial treatment ranging from fillings and composite bonding to new braces and even a root canal procedure. 

In most cases, crushing ice is a habit, which people adopt temporarily, usually in the summer months when they drink cold drinks and eat ice lollies, but it can also be a sign of underlying health issues. Pagophagia, the medical name for compulsive ice eating, can be symptomatic of anaemia, which occurs as a result of a lack of iron.

In addition to avoiding chewing and crushing ice, dentists also advise patients against drinking sugary and acidic drinks and recommend using a straw when drinking for those who have sensitive teeth. Sensitivity is caused by worn or weak enamel, which causes the dentine to be exposed. This is the tissue that lies beneath the enamel. If symptoms persist or get worse, it is beneficial to book a dental check.