More Than Just a Nervous Habit
Almost everyone has a nervous habit. Some people continually adjust their clothing, some women twirl their hair, and others bite their nails. While some nervous habits are harmless, some habits, like the latter can be detrimental to your health.
Nail Biting Spreads Bacteria
If you remember your mother telling you not to bite your nails, you probably assumed it was a social construct. While biting your nails can make you look timid or unhygienic, the implications are worse than looking bad in public. Underneath your nails are all kinds of harmful bacteria that you pick up from scratching or just using your hands in general. When you chew your finger nails, you are introducing that harmful bacteria into your mouth.
Biting Your Nails Wears Away Enamel
Using your teeth as tools is never a good idea for your dental health. Using your teeth on hard or inedible surfaces is bad for your tooth enamel. The hard outer layer on the surface of your tooth is necessary for protecting your teeth from infection and temperature sensitivity. When you grind your teeth on your nails, you erode the enamel form your teeth.
Nail Biting Symptoms Include Bad Bite
Nail biting habits can also cause malocclusion. Constant pressure on your anterior teeth, or front teeth, can create gaps, buck teeth, or uneven spacing. With malocclusion comes issues with jaw pain. For instance, nail biters are more likely to develop TMJ disorder. Temporomandibular joint disorder often involves teeth grinding, earaches, jaw popping noises, and headaches.
Steps to Stop Nail Biting
Treat this habit like you are quitting smoking. Invest as much time in your emotional tendencies as the actual habit. Imagine yourself with healthy nails. Think about the reasons you chew your fingernails. If your nail-biting is stress related, consider ways to help yourself relax during the day. You can help deter nail biting by using a bitter tasting clear nail polish. While you are trying to quit, enhance your diet with protein and magnesium rich foods to help your nails grow strong.
Dr. Fondriest is committed to helping you achieve optimal oral health. From correcting malocclusion to treating TMJ disorder, our compassionate Lake Forest dentistry will restore your dental health and give you peace of mind. To schedule an appointment, contact lake Forest Dental Arts at (847) 234-0517.
Our practice serves the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs