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Chew on This: Ice Crunching and Your Teeth

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Mindlessly chewing ice is an incredibly common habit, especially during hot summer months. Unfortunately, just like many other hard foods, ice can damage teeth, enamel, and gums. You have probably heard that you should skip the ice chewing, but is it so easy to give up an entrenched habit? We know it’s not. Here’s what we should know about how chewing ice can damage your teeth and a few alternatives so you can still get your fix.

Why Is Chewing on Ice Bad for Your Teeth?

Chewing on ice can cause dental damage like cracked or chipped teeth. It can also damage your enamel, causing increased sensitivity to hot and cold and leaving you more prone to tooth decay and cavities. Chewing ice can create even further problems by damaging existing dental work like fillings, crowns, and veneers, to top it off. So, yeah, eating ice probably isn’t the best habit. But what can you do instead?

Alternatives to Chewing on Ice

If you love chewing on ice and need some ideas to shake the habit, try some of these tricks.

  1. Make It Melt. Instead of crunching your way through a glass of frosty cubes, try letting them melt in your mouth slowly. You’ll still get that satisfying refreshment from the ice, and it will last longer than just chewing the entire glass.
  2. Skip the temptation. When you’re at a restaurant, try skipping ice in beverages altogether, and remove the temptation to chew. By skipping the ice in restaurants, you could also be avoiding a certain amount of filth. Ice makers are notoriously tricky to clean and can be havens for bacteria.
  3. Switch to Slush. You can also try replacing your regular cubes with softer types of ice. Go for shaved ice, slushies, or even “soft” ice, also known as nugget ice, which is slushier than the regular stuff.
  4. Look for an underlying cause. If you find ice crunching impossible to resist, tell your dentist. Craving and chewing ice can be related to iron deficiency, and an iron supplement could help.
  5. Crunch Switch. The cooling sensation of chewing on ice is great, but so is the crunching feeling. When you feel the need to crunch away, go for carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or apple slices instead — anything nice and crisp. There’s an additional benefit to crunching up crisp fruits and vegetables, too. All that chewing of fibrous material will stimulate saliva production, which acts as a natural mouthwash — and the particles of fiber will help scrub your teeth.

Chewing on ice is a common habit that can create a lot of problems for your oral health. We know that quitting can be challenging, but so are you. Try out the alternatives to ice chewing and see if they do the trick. If you need further assistance, talk to your dentist about how you can make the change.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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