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Ice Chewing a Sign of Serious Health Problems
May 23rd, 2011 by Dr. Watson

Some people (whether or not they admit it) just love to chew on ice. They can get it from their freezer at home or fill up a cup at the cafeteria or just about anywhere, as long as they can fulfill their craving for that crunchy frozen water. If you’ve ever done this, you probably had a parent or teacher or friend tell you that it was bad for you and you were going to ruin your teeth. This is definitely true, because the hard material chips away at the enamel on your teeth and can cause you to need expensive and painful restoration treatments. However, it turns out that this isn’t the only way ice chewing is bad for your health.

Scientists are now making a connection between a craving for ice, known as pagophagia, and an anemic deficiency of the crucial nutrient iron. They don’t completely understand the link, but it is known that an iron deficiency causes the mouth to become inflamed, and it appears that chewing ice can help soothe this.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Who does that?,” ice chewing is actually not as rare as you might suspect. In fact, there are entire websites devoted to people’s love of eating ice! Some people can go through multiple bags or trays of ice each day, which can quickly become unhealthy and just plain inconvenient.

Only your doctor can tell you if your ice chewing is related to an iron deficiency, but if it is, the problem can easily be cleared up by taking vitamin supplements each day. So before you end up chipping all your teeth and looking like a hockey player, see your health professionals to determine the root of the problem. And stop chewing ice!