For most people, adding ice to their drinks or chewing on ice is one of the best ways to feel refreshed and cool down. Eating ice is also the best way to relieve the symptoms of dry mouth.

But, prolonged eating of ice could be bad for you teach and may also be a sign of an underlying ailment that requires medical attention.

The craving for ice or other non-food materials such as dirt and chalk is called Pica. And the form of pica that causes someone to crave chewing ice is called Pagophagia. If you find yourself chewing on icy substances all the time, visit a doctor to get checked.

What are the symptoms of Pagophagia?

Aside from cravings for ice substances, there are also accompanying symptoms for Pagophagia you should look out for. Sometimes this condition is also associated with iron deficiency anemia. Pagophagia has the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue and body weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain and increased heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Swollen tongue
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Lack of appetite

What causes Pagophagia?

Pagophagia is common in young children, but adults can also develop it. This condition can be caused by a number of reasons such as:

  1. Hormonal changes or pregnancy

Pagophagia can be caused by hormonal changes and pregnancy. Hormonal as well as general body changes can result in the cravings for icy materials.

  • Iron deficiency anemia

A recent study on iron-deficiency anemia patients showed that some showed symptoms of Pagophagia. However, after using iron-rich supplements, the cravings for ice disappeared.

  • Emotional instability

Emotional issues can also cause one to develop the cravings for chewing ice. This can be used as a coping mechanism to help the person through whatever they are going through.

  • Mental disorder

Mental disorder is a common cause of Pagophagia. One of the mental disorders that can lead to one craving for icy things is stress. Another disorder is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Pagophagia usually erupts as a means of soothing these conditions.

How do you diagnose Pagophagia?

Sometimes these cravings can disappear on its own. But if they persist for more than a month, you should check with your doctor.

But you can do some self-diagnosis at home before visiting your doctor.

The self-diagnosis includes:

  • The amount of ice you eat in one day
  • Persistence cravings for other materials 
  • How long you have been chewing or craving ice
  • Out of the box symptoms

You may be required to provide your full medical history including your current medication.

How do you treat Pagophagia?

One of the most common causes of Pagophagia is iron deficiency, in which case, you should increase the intake of iron-rich foods in your diet or iron supplements. However, you should get directions from your doctor before buying iron supplements. This is to avoid excessive iron intake which can lead to cancer.

Is ice chewing ice bad for your teeth?

Yes, ice chewing can have severe effects on your teeth, including:

If this condition is left untreated, it may lead to:

  • Heart-related problems
  • Pregnancy-related complications
  • Complications in growth rate

How to stop chewing ice

  • Be mindful of what goes into your mouth
  • Take care of any iron-deficiency disorder
  • Manage your stress properly
  • Manage your mental disorder effectively

Final Thoughts

Ice chewing is sometimes just a coping mechanism developed to deal with some mental disorders or stress. However, it can also be a sign of underlying illnesses such as iron-deficiency. All in all, there are preventive measures you can use to prevent the development of Pagophagia. Be sure to pay attention to any cravings and seek immediate help to ensure the Health Of Your Teeth.

For more great oral health tips, be sure to visit Toothbrush Life.

Kelly Hancock, RDH


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