If you’re a habitual ice chewer, this one’s for you! When you get braces, do you have to kick that habit or can you continue wreaking havoc on your ice machine?

Here’s what you need to know about chewing ice with braces:

Chewing ice with braces: can I do it?

Unfortunately, ice is on the “foods to avoid with braces” list. Ice in your drink is okay, but chewing ice with braces is a bad idea. (That includes frozen slushies with large ice pieces too! Slurp your slushy through a straw – don’t chew it.) 

Similar to the dangers of chewing hard food or candies, chewing ice can result in bent wires, loose dental cement, and a broken bracket or two.

What’s up with ice chewing?

If you’re curious about the cause behind habitual ice chewing, you’ll find this interesting! The habit of chewing or craving food or items that have no nutritional value has a name; it’s called “pica”. 

Pagophagia (compulsive ice chewing) is a type of pica. Other common types of pica include dirt, rocks, clay, and paper! 

As it turns out, ice pica is often caused by a nutrient deficiency – specifically an iron deficiency. 

Iron-deficiency can cause fatigue, so some researchers believe that ice pica is the body’s subconscious way of keeping the brain and body alert with low ice temperatures that boost energy.

While ice pica is often associated with anemia, the specific cause behind ice pica is still unclear. 

Crush the ice habit!

If you’re a perpetual ice chewer, it may be a good idea to visit your primary care provider and ask them to assess for any nutritional deficiencies. Maybe you have a mild iron deficiency – or maybe you just really like ice. Either way, visiting your doctor will give you peace of mind that your habit is just a habit and not a sign of an underlying condition. 

Not only can chewing on ice damage your brackets and wires, but it can cause chipped teeth, cracked teeth, destroyed enamel, sore jaw and facial muscles, and damage to any crowns or fillings you have.

Chewing ice cubes causes the enamel to expand, which – over time, creates cracks in the enamel and can deteriorate the protective enamel over time. Unfortunately, enamel can’t be naturally regenerated either. It’s important that we do everything we can to preserve and protect our precious enamel!

We recommend crushing the ice habit to prevent any damage to your beautiful smile. Here’s what you can do to crush the habit:

1. Try replacing ice with baby carrots! 

Baby carrots or sliced carrots are just as crunchy as ice, but won’t do as much damage. These veggies can satiate your crunch cravings, add more nutrients to your diet, and help protect your teeth from damage.

2. Chew sugar-free gum.

While it’s not a good idea to chew sugar-full gum with braces, you can still chew ADA-approved sugar-free gum! This can alleviate your chewing cravings, without contributing to sugary bacteria buildup.

 3. For cases of pica, your healthcare provider can discuss a treatment plan with you!

If your ice chewing habit is attributed to pica, be sure to meet with your primary care provider and discuss treatment routes. Whether you have braces or not, pica can lead to irreversible damage in the teeth. 

Foods to Avoid with Braces

You can save yourself an emergency orthodontist visit  by avoiding foods like these:

  • Caramel
  • Laffy taffy
  • Whole apple (slices are okay) 
  • Nuts
  • Gummy bears
  • Beef jerky

It’s best to avoid any food that is especially chewy, sticky, hard, or crunchy while you’re wearing braces. 

Foods to ENJOY with Braces!

It isn’t all bad news in the food department. While some foods may be temporarily off limits, you still have plenty of other snacks, candies and meals to choose from! Going through orthodontic treatment gives you a chance to try some new recipes and get creative with your diet.

Check out these braces-friendly recipes for your next meal!

Who needs ice, gooey caramel, nuts, or any other foods to avoid with braces when you have thousands of braces-friendly recipes to choose from? 

Once you kick the ice chewing habit, you can reward yourself with blueberry pancakes topped in the world’s best lasagna, with a side of chicken noodle soup!  The soft food world is your oyster.

Still have questions about chewing ice with braces?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment. 

If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Longwood or Lake Mary, we’d love to meet you! Request a complimentary exam for you or your child today.