Some women develop strong cravings when they're pregnant. Some need to eat certain foods all the time; others crave odd combinations of food. Pregnancy cravings aren't restricted to just food, however. Some women have an urge to eat things that don't have any nutritional value, like ice. This habit is called pagophagia.
If you've found yourself chewing on ice cubes constantly since you got pregnant, then you may not be too worried. After all, ice is just water. However, your dentist may have expressed concerns about your habit. They want you to find ways to stop. Why?
How Chewing Ice Affects the Teeth
Your dentist is partly concerned with the general effects that chewing ice can have on your teeth. If you do this often enough, then the effort you put into breaking down ice cubes is enough to cause some damage. For example, you may lose or break fillings. Ice can also crack or chip teeth and affect their enamel coverage. On a general level, dentists don't like anybody to chew ice habitually because they know the damage it can cause.
How Chewing Ice When Pregnant Makes Things Worse
Being pregnant doesn't change the basic effects that chewing ice might have on your teeth, but it can turn this habit into a significant problem. This is a result of your pregnancy hormones. During your pregnancy, your hormones will swing all over the place. This can affect your teeth and gums.
When you're pregnant, your teeth may become temporarily looser. Your mouth may not handle bacteria as well as it normally does, and you may be more prone to problems with tooth decay and gum disease. Your teeth are vulnerable enough when you're pregnant. Add ice and its related risks to the mix, and you may find that you need to have dental work done during your pregnancy.
As well as protecting your teeth, your dentist is also conscious of the fact that you're having a baby. Many dentists don't like to do too much dental work during pregnancy, especially if it involves X-rays. Your dentist just wants you to take good care of your teeth.
If you find it hard to stop chewing ice, then your dentist may recommend that you talk to your doctor. Pagophagia is sometimes caused by an iron deficiency, which your GP can fix. In the meantime, your dentist can help you wean yourself off your craving. For example, your dentist may recommend that you chew sugar-free gum to occupy your mouth when you want to chew ice. This gum is also good for your teeth and gums.