nail biting effects

Nail Biting and Its Damaging Effects on Teeth

Biting or chewing on nails is a common habit in both children and adults, but the effects of nail biting can significantly damage teeth. At Lifetime Family Dental, we perform a variety of services that restore damaged teeth. Continue reading to learn why nail biting is bad for your teeth and how to kick the habit. 

Negative Effects of Nail Biting

If you bite your nails, then you likely already know its effects on your fingertips and overall health. However, you may not realize how badly the habit affects your teeth and gums. It’s important that you quit biting your nails before the following effects on your teeth worsen.

Tooth Wear Causes Chipped and Cracked Teeth

Fingernails are tougher than you think—they are made up of a hard substance called keratin. The pressure from biting your nails causes tooth wear and other oral problems. As teeth wear down, the protective enamel erodes, leaving your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay and causing sensitivity. Your teeth can’t grow back lost enamel, but your dentist can treat the damage with dental bonding, veneers, or crowns.

Since your teeth have to work extra hard to tear through fingernails, it can cause teeth to chip or crack and expose their sensitive insides. It’s best to treat chipped and cracked teeth as soon as possible to prevent infection and other health risks.

Your Teeth May Shift as Their Roots Weaken

Roots secure your teeth to the jaw bone. The effects of nail biting weaken the roots, allowing your teeth to shift. As a result, your teeth may not align correctly when your mouth closes. This misalignment is called malocclusion and can prevent you from chewing properly.

Nail Biting and Teeth Grinding Are Linked

If you bite your nails as a response to stress, you most likely grind your teeth as well. Teeth grinding—otherwise known as bruxism—can cause jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, and other head, neck, or jaw issues. 

Your Mouth Becomes More Vulnerable

Even if you wash your hands regularly, bacteria tends to build up under your fingernails. Biting your nails scratches your gums, easily transferring those germs to your mouth and causing infections like gingivitis. Receding gums, redness, and gums that bleed easily are just a few symptoms of gingivitis. Without treatment, gingivitis can progress to more advanced stages of gum disease.

How To Stop Biting Your Nails

Eliminating a nail-biting habit will protect your teeth from further damage and improve your health. Breaking the habit may be difficult, but there are few tips you can follow:

  • Maintain neatly trimmed and manicured nails that are too short to bite.
  • Use a bitter-tasting nail polish that is designed for nail biters.
  • Figure out what triggers your habit, then avoid the trigger as much as possible.
  • Find new, healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety such as exercise or meditation.

Damaged Tooth Treatment in Gilbert

Have the effects of nail biting left your teeth worn and damaged? We can fix chipped, cracked, and otherwise damaged teeth with implants, extractions, and other dental services. Remember to keep your teeth clean and healthy with regular dental visits to Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, Arizona. Call 480-558-4331 to schedule an appointment with us today!

 Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/3/2021). Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels