The warm weather is back! It’s time to put on sandals and make ice for our drinks! In my household, this also means that I’ll be hearing the crunch, crunch, crunch of my children eating their ice cubes. I cringe as I hear it because I’m much more aware than they are of the daily dangers their teeth face (it might be maturity or just that I’ve paid my own dental bills for more than a decade). Chewing on hard objects, like ice and popcorn kernels, could crack your teeth. You could also do damage by using your teeth as tools – you know, ripping open packages with your teeth or cracking a nut open. Our teeth make handy tools, but the trouble you can cause isn’t worth it.

Craze lines are the most common cracks that occur in teeth and, luckily, the least serious. They are tiny cracks in the enamel (outer layer of the tooth). Crunching on ice and other hard things can definitely cause them, but so can clenching and grinding your teeth, an imbalanced bite, extreme temperature changes, among other things. Craze lines rarely cause pain, but you might not like the way they look. You can ask your dentist for ways to make the lines you have less visible. More importantly, you can stop any new ones from forming by being more careful with your teeth.

More serious cracks involve the pulp (under the enamel) or the root of the tooth. You might have one of these cracks and not be immediately aware of it. The symptoms may include pain when you’re chewing and sensitivity to temperature changes. It is important to talk to your dentist about these symptoms so any possible cracks can be located and treated. A small crack caught early can be fixed with a filling or a crown, but a crack can get bigger if ignored. More serious cracks will need a root canal or a tooth extraction. For more information on cracked teeth, use the link below.

Suddenly, the pleasure of chewing ice does not seem worth the root canal, eh? Curb your crunching and reach for scissors next time you need to open a bag.

-Susan Akers, Blogger & Mom