Dental Health Tip: Ice Is Cool, But Just Don’t Chew!

Ice is cool, but just don't chew!

Ice is cool, but just don't chew!

While ice may be your best friend on a hot summer's day, it's no friend to your teeth. That is because chewing on hard substances, such as ice, can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency such as a broken tooth and can even damage enamel. Tip: Use ice to cool your drinks, not as a something to eat.

Since teeth are made of a brittle outer layer and a shock absorbing inner layer, teeth are great for chewing food. The food gets crushed and smashed into smaller particles that are easier to digest, without too much tooth damage. Ice on the other hand may make a satisfying crunch when chewed, but the change in temperature between your 98.6 mouth and the 32-degree ice cube produces something called thermal shock.

When something very cold touches a tooth, then the tooth begins to contract or shrink. The enamel shrinks when touched and crunched by ice, but the underlying dentin shrinks at a slower rate since it further away from the ice and is less cooled. When the enamel shrinks and the dentin does not, the enamel develops small cracks or micro fractures. This is called thermal shock.

These cracks then become the beginning of larger fractures, just like fault lines in an earthquake. These are weak points that can get larger. Chew enough ice and develop enough fractures, and pop goes the tooth. The tooth itself fractures into larger or smaller pieces.

When the tooth fractures, several types of damage can occur. The smallest fracture may be an enamel chip which is simply irritating to the tongue and requires only smoothing and not a repair. A larger fracture might require a filling to repair the tooth. The largest fractures which remove a “cusp” may require a crown to bring the tooth back to its normal strength and chewing ability. In a few cases a fracture may require more extensive treatment like a root canal or sometimes removal of the entire tooth.

To avoid thermal shock, be aware that rapid temperature changes in your mouth are not kind to your teeth. So keep the ice to cool your drink, not to chew.

If you know you need necessary dental work done you can go and book now by contacting us at (732) 219-8900 or filling in the online booking form.