Chewing ice – a safe way to quench your thirst or a dangerous gamble with your dental health?
Unfortunately research suggests it is the latter.
Before we explore why this is, let's get to grips with why you might be having these cravings.
Pagophagia refers to the craving for ice or iced drinks. It is more common among children and pregnant women but can occur in anybody.
If you have this craving, you find yourself wanting chew on things like ice cubes or ice chips.
Pagaphagia is a form of pica, an eating disorder in which a person eats things not usually considered food. However chewing ice can only be classed as pica if the need to do so is compulsive.
Crunching on ice is also linked to conditions such as an iron deficiency and anemia.
Of course, it may not be caused by any of the above!
Cracks and chips
But why does it need to be avoided?
Consuming ice can severely damage the teeth, in particular the enamel. The consistency can cause cracks or chips in the teeth, which is not only expensive to fix but can also lead to further issues.
These include tooth sensitivity – to both hot and cold temperatures – and general mouth pain.
One study suggests that those who chewed 30 ice cubes or more each day over the course of 20 years – and only using the left side of the mouth – suffered jaw changes on one side. They also found increased cavities in that same area.
On top of this, chewing ice can also damage orthodontic work such as braces as well as fillings.