Ice is entirely made up of water. That means consuming it is hydrating, but is eating ice cream bad for dental health or for other reasons?
If you occasionally suck or chew ice, like the cubes that stay at the bottom of your glass when you finish a drink, it’s probably not a big deal. But do it constantly, especially if it is due to a pressing urge? It could be a sign of a bigger problem.
Recurring urges to chew ice cubes (a condition called pagophagia) can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health problem, such as iron deficiency. In addition, eating ice cubes regularly is likely to damage your teeth and injure your gums. In this article, we look at the most common causes of ice cream cravings, as well as the best alternatives to eating ice cream.
Causes of Ice Cream Craving
The compulsive urge to chew ice is called pagophagia. “Pica” is the medical term for unusual urges to chew on things that don’t offer any nutrients, such as ice, dirt, clay, paper, chalk, etc. Research shows that pagophagia can be a symptom of anemia in some people, especially those with iron deficiency anemia. (Anemia can also be caused by other factors, such as those associated with bone marrow or digestive problems).
Why would anemia cause ice cream cravings?
It is not yet fully understood why there is a link between iron deficiency anemia and ice consumption, but it is believed that fresh ice cream helps reduce pain and inflammation of the mouth and gums that can affect some people. anemic. Another explanation, which some studies have found evidence of, is that chewing ice can increase alertness and energy in people who feel fatigued due to iron deficiency. One of the most common symptoms of anemia is lack of energy, and the cold feeling in the mouth from ice cream seems to help “wake people up”.
Researchers believe that chewing ice may increase alertness and energy in tired people by causing vascular changes and bringing more oxygen to the blood that reaches the brain. Another explanation is that ice activates the sympathetic nervous system, which also increases blood flow to the brain.
Anemia isn’t the only reason some people like to chew ice. Here are some other reasons why people may be drawn to eating ice cream:
– They have a dry mouth, for example due to dehydration, diabetes, a mouth infection or smoking.
– They have recently quit smoking cigarettes and chewing ice allows them to focus on something to reduce cravings.
– They feel stressed or bored
– They are hungry or thirsty but try to avoid eating.
– They suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Symptoms of pagophagia (craving for ice cream)
The most obvious sign of pagophagia is the compulsive and repetitive craving for ice cream. For this disorder to be diagnosed, these cravings must last for more than one or two months. Alternatively, you may crave ice cream for other emotional or physical reasons.
As mentioned above, you can suffer from pagophagia because you are anemic or low in iron. Symptoms of pagophagia to look out for include:
– brain fog and difficulty concentrating
– Pale and dry skin
– Sore gums and tongue
– Unusual and/or rapid heartbeats
– Bad mood and depression
– Weakness and dizziness
If you don’t crave ice cream often but enjoy eating it once in a while, ask yourself if you’re thirsty, stressed or dry-mouthed for any reason.
Is eating ice cream bad for you? What are the effects of ice on your body?
First, it can help you meet your water needs and keep you hydrated. This is the biggest benefit of eating ice cream. If you find yourself in a place where water is not readily available, such as if you are camping in the cold, ice (and snow) is a good fallback as long as it is clean and not contaminated.
The problem with eating ice cream all the time is that it can damage your teeth. Some ice eaters end up with cracked and chipped teeth due to the deterioration of tooth enamel, which is the tough outer coating of the teeth that helps protect the inner teeth. This can increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
Ice can also damage existing fillings and crowns in the mouth, which can lead to them breaking or chipping. Also, it can cause jaw pain in some people, especially those who are prone to TMJ.
Another potential risk is that chewing ice can make your teeth and gums overly sensitive to temperature changes. When you eat or drink cold or hot foods, you may feel tingling and pain.
How to Treat the Craving for Ice Cream
1. Take an anemia test
Rule out any underlying health conditions first, especially iron deficiency anemia. You can ask your doctor to do an anemia test, which is a simple blood test. If you are iron deficient, you will need to increase your intake by consuming iron-rich foods (meat, leafy green vegetables, organ meats, seafood, and beans) and possibly iron supplements.
2. Treat dry mouth
Next, ask yourself if you want to eat ice cream because of dry mouth. If you have diabetes, be sure to manage your condition well and avoid side effects such as mouth infections that can cause dry mouth.
3. Quit smoking
If you currently smoke, take steps to quit by joining a support program, using a mindfulness app focused on quitting smoking, or using over-the-counter or prescription products that can help .
4. Opt for popsicles, cold drinks and crunchy foods instead.
Since chewing ice is the biggest problem when it comes to your dental health, try sucking on something cold instead, like homemade popsicles made from pure fruit juice.
Some people claim that frozen juice drinks or partially melted ice are also helpful. These drinks are gentler on the mouth and shouldn’t cause the same problems as ice. Just be sure to make semi-frozen drinks yourself so you don’t drink lots of added sugar.
If you like to eat crunchy foods, take healthy snacks like carrot sticks, apple slices, pistachios, etc.
5. Deal with stress and emotional issues
If you think the urge to chew ice cream (or anything else) is due to stress, try stress-reducing activities to help break the habit, such as journaling, deep breathing, meditation, etc. You can also discuss your emotional issues with a cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in compulsive behaviors and cravings.
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