Why Chewing Ice Is Bad for Your Teeth
In addition to potentially damaging your temporomandibular joints, chewing ice can badly damage your teeth. Ice is not as hard as your teeth, but when ice breaks and your teeth slam together, the impact can lead to tooth cracking. Tooth enamel is very hard, but it’s brittle. Sudden hard impacts can cause your teeth to develop cracks.
In addition, teeth don’t respond well to sudden changes in temperature. Exposure to cold ice then warm saliva can contribute to thermal cracking.
Small tooth cracks might be a merely cosmetic problem. These cracks acquire stains and make your teeth look unattractive and unhealthy. However, some cracks can be large enough to cause tooth sensitivity. Cold air and cold liquids can penetrate the cracks to make your teeth hurt. Some cracks can be even deeper, penetrating the living interior of your tooth. When this happens, bacteria can invade your teeth, leading to an infection. Once your tooth is infected, you may need root canal therapy to remove the infection–or you may have to lose the tooth.
Over time, repeated ice chewing will turn small cracks into larger cracks. You may not initially notice the damage. By the time you notice damage, you may need significant restorative dentistry.