Nail biting is a habit that can cause a wide range of issues, both for overall health and teeth. Although nail biting is often a subconscious habit, it's important to try to nip the habit in the bud before it affects your oral health and wellness. The reasons for nail biting are not fully known, but dental professionals believe it can be a physical manifestation of anxiety, boredom, and stress. Our orthodontists in Gainesville detail all the negative impacts of biting your nails, as well as helpful tips to help make nail biting a habit of the past.
Spreading Of Germs
Depending on how often you wash your hands, it's likely that bacteria have accumulated under and around your fingernails and on your fingers. Biting your nails invites these bacteria into your mouth, leading to a higher rate of infection and the potential spreading of oral diseases throughout the mouth. What's more, biting your nails can cause you to get sick more often, as cold-and-flu bacteria and viruses enter your system.
Poor Dental Occlusion
Biting your nails puts a significant amount of pressure on your jaw bone regularly. This can cause your teeth to shift out of proper alignment or worsen the positioning of already improperly aligned teeth. As a result, nail biting can eventually mean the need for teeth straightening with braces or a retainer. In extreme cases, nail biters can even displace their jaws, requiring additional medical treatment.
Nail biters typically suffer from higher rates of gum disease and infection than individuals who don't bite their nails. You may think your teeth are much harder than your nails, but regular wear and tear on your teeth and gums from nail biting can put you on the fast track to develop gingivitis, as rough nail edges can tear gum tissues, exposing gums to bacteria and increasing the risk of infection.
Nail biting can cause your teeth's enamel to erode, leading to tooth-and-gum sensitivity. What's more, it can also cause bruxism, or a condition in which you unconsciously clench or grind your teeth when you are awake or asleep. Bruxism can lead to significant tooth damage, including cracked teeth, chipped teeth, and teeth prone to developing decay at an accelerated rate. Cracked teeth can often lead to a significant degree of pain and oral health issues.
Nail biting can cause damage to your braces brackets, wires, and other orthodontic appliances, and it may even lead to a braces emergency. This can include broken braces or brackets, loose expanders, or broken wires that poke into your gums. Damaged braces can also delay the progress of orthodontic treatment. Gently treating your teeth and orthodontic appliances is an important part of maintaining good oral health.
Tips For Stopping Nail Biting
Once developed, nail biting can be a difficult habit to stop. But there are several strategies that can help retrain your brain by making it more difficult or unpleasant to bite your nails. We recommend trimming your nails regularly, so there won't be enough nail length to bite as well as painting your nails with bitter-tasting polish, which will help you associate nail biting with an unpleasant taste. In addition, you might consider getting a manicure, as aesthetically pleasing nails can help keep you motivated to avoid ruining them. Swapping out your nail-biting habit for another, less harmful way to preoccupy your hands, such as playing with a stress ball or slime, can also deter nail biting. Identifying your triggers for nail biting may likewise help deter the habit. Contact us today to learn more tips to stop nail biting and to schedule an appointment with our orthodontist!