Nail biting is a bad habit that often begins early in life as a response to stress or boredom, or sometimes as a subconscious reaction to nervousness. While the habit tends to fade as we get older, it’s estimated that about 30% of people continue to gnaw on their nails into adulthood. At our dental office in Yorktown Heights, we know that nail biting is more than a bad habit. To us, it’s about all of the negative effects nail biting can have on teeth and overall oral health.
Risks to Overall Health
Your nails are one of the areas on your body where you can find tons of germs and bacteria. Usually wedged in between the nail and the skin of your finger, these germs and bacteria can be pretty harmful if ingested into your system. When someone puts their finger in their mouth and bites away at the nail, it’s an easy way for these bacteria to be released into the body which could lead to some serious illnesses.
Negative Effects on Oral Health
Besides the risk to overall health, nail biting can wreak havoc on teeth and gums. Your dentist in Yorktown Heights will tell you that chronic nail biting has been linked several oral health issues including chipped, cracked, or worn down teeth, damage to the gum tissue, and bruxism. Bruxism, more commonly known as tooth grinding, can lead to headaches, recessed gums, tooth sensitivity, and even tooth loss.
Tips on How to Stop
Like any habit, stopping nail biting can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Trying to retrain yourself to quit nibbling on your nails takes a conscious effort. These tips can help.
- Paint your nails with an ill-tasting lacquer designed specifically for nail biters
- Find another release for stress like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or exercise
- Check out close up photos of the bacteria that live under nails to remind you of what you could be putting in your mouth whenever you bite — spoiler alert: it’s gross!
- Keep nails trimmed as short as possible to give yourself less to bite
Start by trying one of the above methods to quit biting your nails. If it doesn’t work for you, try another one. It may take persistence but once you quit biting your nails, your overall health and oral health will thank you.
In the meantime, if you happen to chip or crack a tooth, have gum damage, or suspect bruxism we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Yorktown Heights dental office. We’ll diagnose the damage and talk with you about the most appropriate treatment for you.