At first, this may seem like no contest, right? I mean, the nails always lose. That’s why people with a nail biting habit rarely have much nail material to bite. But in the long-term, your teeth won’t win this battle. While your nails will keep growing back, you only get one set of permanent teeth. Consider all of the consequences that nail biting may have your teeth.
Bacteria – Nails are usually the dirtiest part of a person’s hands (which isn’t a clean part of the body to begin with). Spreading bacteria in your mouth is terrible for your teeth as bacteria growth contributes to plaque buildup and tooth decay.
Wear and Fractures – When a person bites his or her nails, teeth wear unevenly. There is also a risk for fracture because pressure is concentrated on just one part of a tooth surface while trying to bite through the nail.
Promotes Bruxism – Repeatedly biting down on your nails, especially if you do so when stressed, can actually train your body to grind your teeth in times of stress. Teeth grinding, or bruxism can wear away enamel and cause jaw pain.
TMJ Disorder – A severe habit of nail biting can result in jaw problems as the jaw is clenched when a person is biting hard on their nails. The resulting condition, TMJ disorder, can be very painful.
Is this list of consequences enough to convince you to stop biting your nails? What if the problem now is that it is a deeply ingrained habit? How can you break free?
Tips to Help Break the Habit
Here are a few things you can try in order to stop biting your nails.
Stress management – Often, nail biting is a response to stress. Stress management techniques can help reduce the underlying cause of the nail biting.
Keep nails trimmed short – Sometimes, it may be as simple as not giving yourself much to bite on.
Treat yourself – Go out and get a manicure. Maybe the expense and well-groomed nails will be enough encouragement to leave them alone.
Polish – Whether you use a colored or clear polish, if you can find one that tastes really bad, that may help you catch yourself when you start to bite your nails without thinking about it.
Regardless of what you need to do to stop, know that you are doing it for a good reason. Nail biting is tough on your teeth. Quitting the habit may save your thousands in dental work in the future.