Most people know courtesy of family members, friends, and personal experience that biting their nails is a bad habit. Nail biting can leave your fingers bleeding and sore, and you can give yourself an infection by passing germs from your mouth to the open wounds. However, if you need one more reason to quit, nail biting can also damage your teeth. Here's what you need to know about how your nervous nibbling on nails can negatively impact your oral health.
The Damage Caused by Nail Biting
Nail biting damages teeth in numerous ways. First, the constant gnawing can wear down tooth surfaces. Fingernails are made from a hardened protein call keratin, which makes them as strong as horse's hooves when the nails are healthy. It typically requires quite a bit of chewing force to bite through them. Over time, this constant chewing can cause teeth to flatten and the enamel to wear away, leading to tooth sensitivity.
Another problem is that nail biting can cause infection, depending on what you do with the nail pieces once you've bitten them off. As strange as it may sound, some people develop a habit of shoving the broken nail pieces in-between their gums and teeth. This can lead to cuts in the gums and the transfer of harmful microbes to the mouth via the nails, resulting in gingivitis, oral thrush, or other infections.
Thirdly, nail biting can increase a person's risk of developing bruxism, which is tooth clenching/grinding disorder. If not treated, this disorder can lead to loss of vertical height in the mouth, pain, broken teeth, and headaches. Biting your nails can also cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder problems. The biting force needed to break nails can cause the disc in the joint to become displaced, which may lead to joint pain, headaches, and other associated symptoms.
Stopping Nail Biting
There are several things you can do to stop biting your nails. One option is to have a dentist recommend a comfortable mouth guard. This will prevent you from gaining any purchase when you try to chew on your nails, and as a bonus, the mouth guard will prevent damage to your teeth related to bruxism.
Other tips for quitting nail biting include:
For tips on stopping biting your nails or fixing the damage to your teeth that nail biting caused, talk to a dentist like Timothy D Calkins DDS.
I have never liked my teeth. I had a lot of dental problems, including deep staining and oddly shaped teeth. Every tooth did not have the same shape, and some were rounded while others were more square. Not surprisingly, I never smiled in pictures and not even much in real life. This left people thinking I was mean before they even met me. My dentist told me my best bet to improve the look of my smile was a set of porcelain dental veneers. He said they could make all my teeth white and the same shape. I said I wanted them without any hesitation, and we scheduled my procedures. I love my new teeth, and they really did change my life. I created this blog to help other people living with teeth they don't like realize that they do have options that can improve their smiles and their lives.