If you're about to get dental implants to replace missing teeth, you know that you have to avoid chewing hard or dense foods for the first few weeks as your jaw heals. But did you know you'll have to be careful with certain hard foods even past that? Foods like hard candies and ice are too hard for both natural teeth and implants, potentially causing cracks and even breaking off bits of the tooth.
If you are about to get implants, monitor yourself before the procedure and train yourself not to mindlessly chew. If you don't, you could find yourself headed back to the dentist's office for more work:
Porcelain and Fragility
Dental implants are usually made with porcelain, which makes them nice and hard, but not infallible. They can still break. The implants and natural tooth enamel are strong enough to handle things like apples, but ice, hard candies, and other very hard items can create little cracks that cause trouble. Decay and sensitivity can begin in natural teeth, and implants can become more and more damaged until they start to chip.
If you continue to chow down on ice and other hard items, especially in that mindless way that so many people are prone to, you're pretty much asking for more damage. So that means you need to take a look at why or when you chew on the items to prevent yourself from chewing them with the implants.
Pica and Anemia
Ice chewing and similar actions can be due to health problems or general habit. There is a condition known as pica, in which people want to eat non-food items (ice is edible but not officially a "food"), and this is a marker of iron-deficiency anemia. If you find yourself craving ice, see your doctor for blood tests.
If you simply chew ice because it's there, take a look at why or whether you even need to have ice. Sometimes the best way to avoid chewing the items is to avoid them completely -- no ice in drinks, no hard candies from the candy jar at work, and so on. It sounds less than fun, but if it helps you stop, then you'll deal with the minor loss.
Other times, though, if you can have ice and not chew on it, then there may be an outside factor at play. Start logging when you notice yourself chewing ice. For example, you might do it out of boredom, or you might find that you chew ice only when eating and drinking something by yourself. find those circumstances and modify them, such as by not having ice when you drink something alone, but having ice when you're with other people.
Your dental implants will last a long time if you take care of them properly. Don't let a mindless habit or hidden health problem make your dental life miserable. If you want more information about stopping an ice-chewing habit, or other chewing habit, contact your dentist.