We all have our own little bad habits.
Is nail biting one of yours?
Nail biting is a common way to relieve anxiety, but unfortunately it results in ragged, unattractive nails, painful hangnails, and even infections in the nailbed.
You might not realize it, but nail biting is also a problem for your oral health. Mt. Pleasant dentist Dr. Jason Annan sees a great deal of damage to teeth that could have been prevented by breaking this habit.
1. Nail biting causes damage to your front teeth – Your enamel is the hardest material in your body, but your fingernails are pretty tough, too! When you bite down on your nails, you are risking chips and cracks in your front teeth. Plus, the constant biting action wears down your teeth, causing them to appear short, increasing your risk of cavities and sensitivity, and changing the way your teeth fit together.
2. Nail biting is associated with bruxism – A study, published in the journal General Dentistry, found that people who bite their nails (or other non-food items like pencils) are at an increased risk for developing chronic grinding and clenching of the teeth – a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism can have serious consequences for your oral health, including pain in the jaw and neck, gum recession, and lost teeth.
3. Nail biting can cause infections – Because your nails become sharp and jagged when you bite them, you increase the risk of damage to your gum tissue. Not only that, but these small injuries can easily become infected because of the bacteria you are constantly introducing to your mouth from your hands.
We recognize that nail biting is a difficult habit to break, but it can be done! Here are some tips to help:
- Treat yourself to a professional manicure! If your nails look nice, you’ll be less inclined to chew on them.
- Keep a nail file handy. File down chips in your nails instead of chewing on them.
- Use a bad tasting nail polish to discourage fingers in the mouth. Effective products include Sally Hansen’s Miracle Cure and Mavala Stop, both available at most drugstores.
- Talk to us about a mouth guard, especially if you tend to bite your nails unconsciously or while you sleep.
We’d love to help you find ways to improve your oral health! Call today to schedule your next visit to our Mt. Pleasant dental office!