Why You Should Stop for the Sake of Your Oral Health
Nail biting is a very common habit that can start in childhood and continue throughout your life. If you have this habit, you probably worry about the damage that it does to your nails and how it affects the appearance of your hands. But nail biting can do more than make it hard to wear nail polish. It can also impact your oral health and make you more likely to need a trip to an after hours dentist to repair the damage.
Why Bite Your Nails?
There is no clear cause of nail biting, but most of the time it’s associated with stress. This is a habit that often starts in childhood as a natural progression from finger or thumb sucking. Chewing your nails can help relieve tension, anxiety, stress or boredom. So when you find yourself in a situation that prompts these reactions, you’ll probably find yourself biting your nails. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult habit to break, even if you know that you’re damaging your oral health every time you bite.
How Nail Biting Affects Your Oral Health
Biting your nails can seriously affect the health of your gums and your teeth in a number of ways. Here are some of the problems that you might encounter if you bite your nails:
The grinding action can wear away the enamel on your teeth and cause cracked or chipped teeth.
Your nails get harder when you constantly bite them, which means that chewing them is even more difficult and will cause more damage the longer you have the habit.
Biting your nails puts pressure on your teeth, which can cause them to shift and leave gaps in your smile.
Biting your nails can weaken the roots of your teeth and cause your jaw bone to reabsorb them, which means that the affected tooth or teeth will fall out.
There is a lot of bacteria under your nails and every time you bite them you’re transferring it to your mouth, which can lead to gum disease.
Nail biting can do damage to your temporomandibular joint or TMJ, which can result in jaw pain or chewing difficulties.
If you chew your nails you’re more likely to develop Bruxism, which is a chronic teeth grinding habit that causes oral health problems as well as headaches and muscle pain.
How to Break the Habit
Breaking any habit is difficult and nail biting is no different. However, it’s also essential to break this habit if you want to protect and maintain your oral health. If you’re ready to get rid of this habit, here are some strategies that will help:
Find something else to do with your hands when you’re nervous, such as playing with a stress ball.
Keep your nails cut short and neat or get a manicure so they look too nice to ruin.
Get bad tasting nail polish from the chemist and put it on your nails.
Identify activities or experiences that set off the nail biting and plan to do something else instead.
Ask the people around you to stop you every time you start to bite your nails.
All of these strategies will help you find a better way to deal with negative emotions. And they will also help you avoid a late night visit to an after hours dentist with a serious dental problem.