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Chew on this: crunching ice can be bad for your teeth

While blenders and ice crushers are perfect for crunching ice cubes, teeth are not.

Many people habitually chew on ice, especially during the summer months. That’s when dentists' offices are crowded with patients suffering from gum injuries and broken teeth. The American Dental Association says avoiding chewing ice is a simple way to avoid tooth injuries.

For refreshment, instead of crushing big chunks of ice with the teeth, dentists recommend letting ice slivers melt in the mouth like candy. Dentists also recommend baby carrots or apple chunks to ice chewers who are seeking a crunch.

But anyone who has a persistent ice-chewing habit and finds it difficult to stop should let his or her dentist know. Craving and chewing ice is often associated with iron deficiency anemia.

As the name implies, iron deficiency anemia is due to insufficient iron. The body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen.

It's a common type of anemia. Some 20 percent of women, 50 percent of pregnant women, and 3 percent of men are iron deficient. It is often corrected with iron supplementation.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

07/19/2006

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