Summertime has arrived, and as is always the case, that means it’s time to endure triple digit temperatures. With that comes the importance of drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated. And, while hydration is key to surviving the often grueling summer months, there’s another important consideration to make when drinking water and other fluids – the impact ice can have on the mouth. Specifically, this refers to the detrimental impact that chewing ice can have on the teeth, as explained by BellaVista Dental Care’s Rashmi Bhatnagar, DMD.
“It’s not that the enamel can’t take it – enamel is extremely hard and can handle chewing ice,” she says.
The problem occurs when teeth have, in one way or another, already become worn.
“If you already have weakened enamel, that wear and tear is susceptible to the effect that chewing ice can have on it,” says Bhatnagar. “Weak enamel, or things like fillings or bondings – chewing ice will exacerbate those issues.”
Asked whether “healthy” teeth could be worn down from chewing ice, Bhatnagar says the issue becomes subjective.
“Everyone has their own definition of what healthy is,” she says. If I have a patient whose teeth are worn down, I may consider that unhealthy, but they may see it as simply an aesthetic thing. The point is, if you have any wear on your teeth – which just about everyone does in one way or another, chewing ice is going to continue that wear.”
This wear and tear can also be true for individuals who have preexisting joint issues in the mouth. Chewing ice can worsen tenderness and stress of the mouth joints.
Generally, a good rule of thumb is to avoid chewing ice, or, for those who habitually chew their ice, to reduce the amount of ice put into the drink.