You encourage your children to drink water, so ice may seem like a safe thing to munch. But this incredibly hard substance can do a lot of damage to your child’s dental health. Think of it this way: if you’ve ever seen what a hail storm can do to the hood of a car, you know that ice is far from harmless.
If your little ones love crunchy foods, they may gravitate towards chewing on ice chips, such as those left over in cold drinks. But here are three things Dr. Kimmy wants you to know about chewing ice.
If you need a knowledgeable pediatric dentist to keep your children’s teeth and gums in excellent health, call our Manhasset, New York pediatric dental office in 2017 for routine check-ups and dental cleanings.
1 – Ice Can Damage Enamel: This may be surprising, as small pieces of ice can melt in your mouth quite quickly, but when water is frozen it is hard enough to shatter a glass window. If you put an ice cube into your mouth and crack it with your molars, it may create micro fractures and small cracks in the enamel of your teeth. Such fractures and cracks can easily grow larger with time (and more ice crunching) and become an entry point for harmful bacteria to create dental cavities.
Furthermore, if your child has any pre-existing dental work such as fillings or crowns, they may become loosened or dislodged by continued pressure from hard bits of ice.
2 – Ice Can Injure Gums: Again, we tend to think of ice as being a heart-beat away from water, but when it cracks, it splinters it creates shards that can cut sensitive oral tissues, such as cheeks and gums. Worse yet, your child may not feel any pain from these tiny abrasions at the time, due to the numbing properties of ice. They may only notice soreness the next day, or after consuming salty or acidic foods that irritate the cuts. If your child likes to chew ice, and occasionally has mysterious sore spots on her gum tissue, this may be the reason why.
3 – A Craving for Ice Can Indicate Medical Conditions: This isn’t exactly a dental concern, but it’s something you should definitely be aware of. Pica is the medical term for cravings for non-nutritive, non-food items. It usually refers to eating dirt, chalk, ashes, or rocks, for example, but it can also include ice. The condition usually suggests a mineral deficit; ice cravings, specifically, point to iron deficiency anemia.
Doctors aren’t certain why this happens, but it may have something to do with inflamed gums being a symptom of anemia. The ice may feel good as it cools inflamed oral tissues. It may also be connected to the jolt of energy that cold temperatures deliver our nervous systems (think of an energizing cool shower, or the invigorating scent of menthol). Anemia causes fatigue, so the chill of ice may give those suffering a deficit a short-lived burst of energy. If your child like to chew ice, we definitely recommend you have his or her iron levels checked by a pediatrician. If levels are low, your doctor can prescribe a supplement and suggest dietary changes.
If Your Child Likes To Crunch
In most cases, children who chew on ice do it for the satisfying crunch. To help break the habit, we suggest keeping easily accessible safe snacks on hand to give your child something healthy to chew instead. Keep your ears primed for sounds of your ice-maker, and be ready to put one of these healthy alternatives into her hands the next time she goes for the ice. We also recommend you explain to your child how damaging ice can be to the health of their teeth and gums. The knowledge alone may be persuasive enough for more mature children.
Healthy foods that crunch:
- Sun Chips
- Baked pita chips
- Cucumbers and pickles
- Pretzel sticks
If you need a knowledgeable pediatric dentist to keep your children’s teeth and gums in excellent health, call our Manhasset, New York pediatric dental office in 2017 for routine check-ups and dental cleanings.Leave a reply →