Ask Dr. Canzoner: Is Pagophagia Affecting Your Teeth?

– Courtesy photo / Ann Wuyts (CC BY 2.0)

By Kenneth J. Canzoneri DDS

Dear Dr KC: I recently had to visit a dentist because I broke four teeth.  The dentist asked me how I managed to fracture four teeth. I explained that I was at a family picnic and it was hot. My mother, father and two brothers love to chew on ice. I actually chew on ice whenever I get a chance. Is this a problem? What do I do?

– Ice Cruncher

Dear Ice Cruncher:

You may have a condition known as “pagophagia.” Pagophagia is the act of compulsive ice chewing. Craving and chewing on ice is often associated with iron deficiency, stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder or a developmental disorder. Ice munching will not destroy your health but the dental damage form chewing on ice often includes cracked and chipped teeth, damage to tooth enamel, problems with existing dental work, sore jaw joints and breakage of braces, retainers and dentures.

If you love to crunch ice try these alternatives:

  • Switch to slush.
  • Replace the regular cubes with softer types of ice.
  • Shaved ice, slushees and crushed ice are great alternatives.
  • Skip ice in beverages altogether.
  • In many cases it’s not the ice but the crunching sensation that people are craving. When you feel the urge to crunch go for carrot sticks, cucumber slices, apple slices — anything that is crisp.

Protect your teeth from harmful habits such as chewing on ice cubes. Your teeth are the only ones you are going to get! So take great care of them.


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