How does chewing ice affect teeth?
Chewing ice can affect teeth profoundly. Ice is very hard and requires quite a bit of force to break apart. When we use our teeth to chew ice, we exert unnecessary force and pressure on our teeth. This will lead to wearing small cracks in tooth enamel over time. As people continue to chew ice, tooth enamel becomes increasingly damaged – leaving dentin (the soft structure under tooth enamel) exposed. Without tooth enamel, our teeth have little to no protection against cavity-causing bacteria. It also weakens our teeth from a structural perspective. Without enamel, teeth will develop brittle edges that can form into cracks and chips. Repairing this kind of damage can involve extensive restorations like receiving multiple dental crowns and oral surgery like tooth extractions for teeth that are so damaged that they cannot be repaired.
Can chewing ice harm other oral structures?
Absolutely. Chewing ice and other inedible, hard objects can affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint. We have two TMJs, each one located at the side of the face just beneath the ears. TMJs are create all mouth movement. When we chew on hard, inedible objects as a habit, we will place unnecessary stress and strain on the TMJ and its supportive tissue. A strained TMJ can be very painful. Repeated stress to these joints can cause them to dysfunction, thus greatly affecting oral function.
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