Why Is Nail Biting Bad for Your Teeth?

why is nail biting bad for your teeth - woman biting nails

Why Is Nail Biting Bad for Your Teeth?

Are you a habitual nail biter? It’s a common habit in both children and adults that can wreak havoc on your fingertips. But did you know that biting your nails can actually damage your teeth as well? Let’s take a look at why nail biting is so bad for your teeth, and what you can do to stop the habit. 

Four Reasons Why Nail Biting Is Bad for Your Teeth

1: Damage to the Teeth

Fingernails are made out of a protein called keratin, which is hard enough to damage your teeth. Constant nibbling not only wears down your tooth enamel—the pressure from biting something as hard as fingernails can even cause your teeth to chip or crack

Damage from nail biting can expose the sensitive nerves inside your teeth, leading to pain, sensitivity, and infections. Nail biting can even damage metal braces and make orthodontic treatments take longer. 

2: Increased Risk of Gum Disease

When you bite your nails, you expose your mouth to all the germs trapped underneath them. Your nails are also more likely to be sharp and jagged if you bite them, which can cause cuts or scratches on your gums. The combination of open wounds and increased bacteria significantly increases the risk of gum disease for nail biters. 

If you notice any symptoms of gum disease, like gums that are red, swollen, tender, or bleeding, you should contact your dentist to make an appointment. Gum disease only gets worse over time, and without treatment it can lead to serious problems like tooth loss, so it’s crucial that you seek treatment as soon as possible. 

3: Weak Tooth Roots

Another one of the major effects of nail biting is that the pressure can cause your teeth to shift, which weakens their roots. And if your teeth are already being shifted with braces or Invisalign, the extra pressure from biting your nails can cause your jawbone to absorb the root and make the tooth even weaker. If their roots become too weak, your teeth can fall out. 

4: Can Lead to Bruxism

The more you chew your nails, the higher your risk of grinding or clenching your teeth—a condition called bruxism. Like biting your nails, bruxism is a nervous habit that’s bad for your teeth. For instance, it can flatten, chip, and crack your teeth. But it can also cause other problems like chronic headaches and TMJ disorders

How to Kick Your Nail Biting Habit

There are several methods you can try to help you stop biting your nails. For example, many people find biting their nails comforting, so it can help to make the habit uncomfortable. Try trimming your nails so that they’re too short to bite, and applying bitter-tasting nail polish that’s meant for nail biters.

Understanding what causes your nail biting habit can help you avoid certain triggers. If biting your nails happens when you’re nervous or stressed, try to reduce anxiety and relax through meditation, yoga, or exercise. But if you only bite your nails when bored, then you should try wearing gloves whenever your hands are idle, like while you’re watching television. 

And if you still can’t fight the urge, you can try chewing sugar-free gum to satisfy the impulse and protect your teeth. 

Holistic Dentist in Prescott, Arizona

Don’t ignore the bad effects of nail biting on your teeth. At Prescott Dentistry, your dental health is our top priority. We provide a variety of holistic services that can treat the damage caused by nail biting. Call us at 928-445-1660 today to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/3/2023). Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels