Nail biting

Does Biting Your Nails Damage Your Teeth?

Biting your fingernails when you get anxious or worried is a nervous habit for millions of Americans, and while it may seem like your nails are the one taking the brunt of the damage, regularly chomping on your fingernails can also harm your teeth. In today’s blog, we explain why biting your fingernails can be bad for your teeth, and what you should do to help kick the habit.

How Biting Your Nails Damages Your Teeth

There are a couple of ways in which biting your fingernails can be harmful to your teeth. The first is the most obvious, as the act in itself can lead to microtrauma on your teeth. Over time this can gradually wear down your teeth and make them more predisposed to injury. There is also the potential of immediate damage, as biting your nails can actually lead to cracked or broken teeth. Cracked teeth are more common as you get older, especially if you’ve been a nail biter for decades, but that doesn’t mean younger patients are immune from severe teeth damage from chomping on their fingernails.

Another way in which nail biting can affect your teeth health is through what’s known as acquired bruxism. Bruxism is a condition where people unknowingly grind their teeth, and this oftentimes occurs while the patient is asleep. Dentists suggest there is a real connection between people who subconsciously bite their fingernails and individuals who develop bruxism during their sleep. This nervous and subconscious activity while you’re awake can manifest into teeth grinding while you’re sleeping, which can lead to worn teeth, cracked teeth or broken hardware.

Kicking The Habit

So if you’re a nail biter, do yourself a favor and try to kick the habit for the sake of your teeth. Make the decision to consciously stop biting your nails when you know you’re doing it, or take more drastic actions if you continue to bite your nails. Some people find it easiest to apply a bitter-tasting, clear nail polish to their nails so that they get a bad taste in their mouth if they go to bite their nails.

Another way to cut down on biting your nails is to work on eliminating stress in your life. Biting your nails is often done when you’re nervous or stressed, so working to eliminate and reduce your daily stress can limit the need to bite your nails. Others have found it easier to channel this stress into physical activity, like running or swimming. Working to destress your life is another way to kick the habit of biting your nails.

A final simple solution is to find another option to occupy your mouth. Sugar-free gum is the simplest option, so make it a habit of carrying a pack around with you wherever you go. Once you get the urge to bite a nail, pop in a stick of gum and you may find that the urge is gone!

Regardless of whether you regularly chew your nails or never picked up the habit, make sure you are getting regular dental checkups from your dentist. You should be going twice a year, so if you’re due for a visit, pick up the phone and give Dr. Brooks and his team at Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington a call today.