Nail biting is a common habit. Lots of people bite their nails when they are nervous, stressed, or even when they are just bored. Some individuals bite their nails when they do not have a tool nearby that can help them deal with a broken or torn fingernail. While nail biting might seem like a harmless practice, it is actually dangerous for your oral health! Let’s talk about how it may damage your smile (as well as your overall well-being) and what you can do to stop this destructive habit.
The Dangers of Nail Biting
Nail biting can damage oral and overall health in a few different ways:
- Increased risk of breakage. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but it is brittle. Plus, fingernails are pretty tough themselves. When you bite your nails, the force you apply to your teeth can cause them to break or chip.
- Bruxism. The risk of teeth grinding and clenching is higher in individuals who bite their nails.
- Danger to soft tissue. If a jagged fingernail accidentally slips while you are biting on it, you might end up cutting the soft tissues in your mouth.
- Infection. Even if you are diligent about washing your hands frequently, it is still possible for dirt and bacteria to get caught beneath your fingernails. Those harmful substances might invade your body and cause you to become ill.
How to Stop Nail Biting
Here are a few tips to help you conquer the nail biting habit:
- Talk to your dentist. They can let you know if your nail biting has already caused damage to your teeth. They may have practical, personalized suggestions to help you kick the habit.
- Keep your nails short. Short nails are more difficult to grab with your teeth.
- Get a fun manicure. After a trip to the nail salon, it may be easier to stay motivated to keep your fingernails away from your mouth.
- Visit your local pharmacy. You might find a product that you can apply to your nails to make them taste unpleasant.
- Keep busy. Finding ways to occupy your hands can keep your nails away from your mouth. You might try squeezing a stress ball. Chewing sugar-free gum can keep your mouth occupied.
- Identify your triggers. When are you most likely to bite your nails? Knowing your triggers can help you make a conscious, concentrated effort to doing so.
Nail biting is bad for your smile and your overall health! Every effort you make to put an end to this habit will be well worth it.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Erick Anderson is a Colorado Springs native who has been serving patients since 1994. He has spent most of his career right here in our area. He offers a broad range of general dentistry services, including preventive exams and much more. If you are concerned about how nail biting may be affecting your oral health, he would be pleased to consult with you. Contact our practice at 719-593-0988.