You are terrified that your presentation at work will tank, so you bite your nails. The next day, you find out that you have earned a promotion: In excitement, you bite your nails. Next week, when you begin your new position, things are slow to begin with, and in your boredom and anxiety, you bite your nails some more. Whether stress, excitement or inactivity causes you to chomp on your fingernails, this bad habit may permanently ruin your smile and be detrimental to your oral health in the coming years.
Even though biting your nails may seem to be a harmless, stress-relieving habit when compared with smoking or drinking, it can actually lead to many teeth-related issues that often require a trip to the dental office for treatment. Nail biting can cause several health issues:
- Your sharp nails may leave cuts and sores on your gums. Because germs thrive under your fingernails, biting your nails introduces bacteria into your mouth, which can infect these open sores.
- When you bite your nails regularly, you force your jaw to constantly be in an unnatural position; this can cause your teeth to become misaligned over time. Not only does this make your smile look uneven, which only your dentist can fix, but it can also affect your chewing ability.
- The habit of nail biting is a gateway to clenching or grinding your teeth at night—another bad habit that causes your teeth to wear down and leaves you with jaw pain and a headache when you wake up in the morning.
- When biting your nails, you may inadvertently chip your teeth or damage your enamel—the hard substance that covers your teeth; this can lead to heightened tooth sensitivity.
People often bite their nails more than they realize—while they are taking a test or watching television, for example—so the habit becomes second-nature. However, tips for overcoming nail biting include keeping a stress ball in your pocket so that you keep your fingers occupied, or clenching your fist to fight the urge to chew.
Contact the dental office of Dr. Daniel C. Bush today to find out more about the harmful habit of nail biting and what you can do about it.