Red Flag: Don't Chew Ice

Red Flag: Don't Chew Ice
Dr. Jay H. Sher Dentist Livingston, NJ

Dr. Sher prides himself on helping patients feel and look their best by providing the finest dental care and the latest technology. Whether a routine dental visit or a cosmetic procedure, Dr. Sher treats a variety of dental conditions in his practice.

Many people will start chewing the ice after finishing a cool drink. It may seem like a perfectly good idea, with that nice crunchy feeling and cracking sound, especially on a hot, humid day. The trouble is that the cracking might be their teeth, instead of the actual ice cubes. These stress fractures can even affect perfectly healthy teeth, although teeth with big fillings are much more at risk.

Why does that happen? The ice is obviously significantly colder than your teeth and the fillings. Therefore, when you put the ice cube in your mouth, the cold causes the fibers in your tooth’s enamel to microscopically shrink. When you finish that cube of ice, the tooth and your fillings warm up and expand again. This repeated cold and hot exchange causing the shrinking and expansion actions can make the tooth’s enamel more brittle than usual. Finally, when you bite down on one more cube and direct that pressure on a brittle tooth cusp, the ice may cause something like a “fault line”, which is unnoticeable today but it can develop into a serious fracture. 

Unfortunately, with repeated pressure over time, a small or large segment of the tooth can shear off. Sometimes it may be deep enough to expose the nerve and, on rare occasion, can split a tooth completely in half, resulting in the need to have the tooth extracted. 

So, the lesson is simple: don’t chew the ice… save your teeth for the steak and birthday cake.

Jay Sher DDS, FAGD

154 S. Livingston Ave. Suite 104

Livingston, NJ 07039