Does Biting Your Nails Hurt Your Teeth?

Whether you bite your nails yourself or know someone who does, we’re all familiar with the habit of nail biting. Also called onychophagia, nail biting is a condition usually brought on by anxiety, and may be a temporary problem for some people. However, for others, nail biting can turn into a lifelong habit that can be damaging to both nails and teeth. Here’s how nail biting can hurt your smile!

Biting Your Nails Can Cause Tooth Enamel Damage

The main component of your fingernails is keratin, which is a type of protein that also constitutes your hair. This hard substance has the ability to cause teeth to shift, fracture, and even to wear away tooth enamel over time [1]. Your teeth may be more susceptible to these types of injury if they already have existing damage, such as a fracture, decay, or gum disease, which can cause loose teeth.

Nail Biting Affects Plaque and Oral Bacteria

Did you know that nail biting also affects the amount of plaque in your oral cavity, as well as the balance of bacteria [2]? Since your hands and fingers are exposed to a variety of germs throughout the day, compulsively biting your nails can expose your oral cavity to bacteria it would normally wouldn’t be exposed to.

People who bite their nails also have higher levels of plaque in their mouths, which is the sticky substance that coats teeth throughout the day in between brushing. Nail biting also exposes people to more bacteria that could cause both oral and systemic infections, including E. coli [2].

It May Even Increase Your Risk for TMJ Problems

Another consequence of nail biting for your smile is that it could increase your risk for problems with your jaw. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is located near your ear on either side of your head, allows your jaw to function properly. Overuse of this joint can cause discomfort and inflammation, which could lead to what are commonly referred to as TMJ disorders. Some evidence shows that chronic nail biting can increase your risk for TMJ disorders or aggravate an existing problem with your jaw[3].

Do You Bite Your Nails?

Nail biting is generally not considered to be a helpful or healthy habit, especially since it can damage teeth, expose you to dangerous bacteria, and overwork your jaw. Whether you’re an occasional nail biter or have had the habit for years, there are ways to stop. From keeping your nails short to identifying your triggers, consider curbing your nail biting habit to support your oral health and reduce your risk for getting sick!


Does Biting Your Nails Hurt Your Teeth?
Article Name
Does Biting Your Nails Hurt Your Teeth?
Alexandria Dental Health Studio