Nail biting is a habit often started due to nervousness, stress, or boredom. Very often a nail biter is a child or teenager (some outgrow the habit, while some don’t) and this habit can contribute to many dental problems if not curtailed. Your dentist can offer tips on ways you can break this habit; in addition your dentist can advise you what can be your fate if you don’t find ways to end nail biting.
If you habitually bite your nails during the day and want to stop, using a bitter nail polish will provide a reminder every time you put your fingers in your mouth. While wearing gloves might look silly, you can resort to this when you’re at home. Many patients benefit from wearing a mouthguard to break the nail biting habit.
In addition to the potential dental problems that can occur, biting your nails is extremely unsanitary. Our mouths already contain bacteria, but when you add in the germs from items you touch throughout the day, you increase the odds of spreading that bacteria throughout your body. When you bite your nails you take the chance of a jagged nail cutting into gum tissue creating sores and possible infection.
A few of the dental hazards associated with nail biting include the potential for chipped, worn enamel; broken teeth; misshapen teeth; jaw problems; and bruxism (teeth grinding). Nail biters often position their jaw to bite their nails that can eventually lead to a malocclusion where the top teeth do not align properly with the bottom teeth.
As enamel wears away, teeth are weakened leading to chipped dentition, the potential for decay, and the need for restorative work. Additional problems include similar symptoms experienced by patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaw such as headache, facial pain, and jaw discomfort. Over time teeth sensitivity can occur as well as receding gums.
While nail biting can seem benign, it can lead to costly repair and the potential for years of treatment to undo what this action created. If you or a family member has become a habitual nail biter, your dentist can help.
In the meantime, make sure you are doing everything to take care of your teeth by daily brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist every six months for cleaning, polishing, and a dental exam.
Call our team today at The Dental Place to schedule your visit!