Nail-biting is a nervous habit that can be hard to break. The damage to nails and cuticles is an obvious result, but nail-biting can also be harmful to your teeth and gums. If you have this habit, inform a dentist, so they can watch for signs that your oral health is being compromised. Here’s what you need to know about nail-biting and why it isn’t good for teeth.
Why Nail-Biting Is Bad for Teeth
Morning headaches, jaw pain, or ground-down teeth might be a sign of teeth grinding at night, a condition called bruxism. Bruxism typically occurs during sleep and is exacerbated by nail-biting, clenching the jaw, or chewing on ice or pencils. Over time, bruxism can seriously damage teeth and cause gum recession. See your dentist if you have any of the symptoms of bruxism.
Gums might also be damaged over time by sharp or fragmented fingernails. Small tears in gum tissue are then open to the bacteria present under the nails or on the hand. Bacterial infections can begin in the mouth and spread easily through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. If you habitually poke a certain area with fingernails, it can cause recession or damage to that area and even chip or break a tooth. An exam by your dentist is necessary if you notice damage to your teeth or gums.
How to Stop Nail Biting
The best way to prevent damage from this habit is to stop. Identify why you bite your nails. Is it boredom? Stress? Worry? Consciously try to create healthier responses to the cause, such as meditation or breathing to cope with stress or choosing an alternative activity, such as going for a walk or reading, if you are bored. There are also polishes for nails that taste bad and are made to help people stop this habit. You might also want to learn about the bacteria under your fingernails, a sure way to make them less appealing to chew on.
Biting your nails is a habit which can ultimately affect oral health. For all of your dental care needs, visit JP Larson, DDS, and Stephen J. Larson, DDS, in Cincinnati, OH. In addition to providing more information on nail-biting, the dentists also offer preventive and cosmetic care, treatment for gum disease, crowns, bridges, teeth whitening, and implants. Call (513) 528-1223 to schedule an appointment, or visit their website to learn more about their services.