Addicted To Chewing On Ice? Here's What You Need To Know About Your Medical & Dental Health

Posted on: 23 May 2016

Some people crave the action of munching on ice, sometimes to the point that they become addicted. Fortunately, out of all the bad addictions that people can pick up, chewing on ice won't wreck your health. However, crunching down on ice can be like a wrecking ball to your teeth. And even though ice-chewing won't risk your health, it can signify that you have a medical condition called anemia. If you are an incessant ice chewer, you'll need to see your doctor and your dentist.

Ice Chewing Is a Sign of an Iron Deficiency Anemia

Compulsive ice chewing may not seem like a thing, but there's actually a medical word for it—pagophagia. Pagophagia is a form of pica, which is when you crave something that doesn't have nutritional value. Researchers have found that pagophagia is associated with iron deficiency anemia. When you have this deficiency, your body is unable to produce enough hemoglobin, which is what carries oxygen to the cells throughout your body, including in your mouth. 

Pagophagia Can Cause Periodontitis

Research shows that anemia may cause periodontitis, which is a severe form of gum disease that can cause tooth mobility. Therefore, if your body craves chewing on ice as a way to compensate for iron deficiency, you may be risking your teeth with every crunch of ice. People with periodontitis are more susceptible to tooth loss. Fortunately, resolving your iron deficiency can help improve your periodontitis. To do this, you'll need to increase your iron intake. See your doctor to be tested for anemia.

Dental treatment for periodontitis can consist of laser gum treatment to remove the buildup of plaque and bacteria in between the gum tissue and your teeth. If you've lost a tooth or several teeth, you can get cosmetic dentistry, such as dental implants, to improve your smile.

Pagophagia Can Damage Your Teeth

Whether your gums are healthy or not, chewing on ice can damage the enamel of the teeth and cause them to crack. Cracks in the teeth and poor dental enamel can cause excruciating toothaches if the dental pulp and/or nerves are exposed.

Some cosmetic dentistry treatments can be used to repair teeth that have been damaged by chewing on ice, such as caps, crowns, and bridges. However, it's important to avoid chewing on ice as much as possible after getting cosmetic dentistry treatment, especially immediately after treatment, so you don't ruin your new smile. For this reason, it's important to get to the root cause of the need to chew on ice, which may be iron deficiency anemia.

For more information about how this condition can hurt your teeth, contact a local dentist like The Family Dentist.