Nail biting, a Freudian scholar’s dream habit, is not as innocent of a habit as you may think. This oral fixation can actually be genetic, and it occurs more frequently in females than males. Sometimes, nail biting can present itself as a nervous habit. Other times, it can be caused by stress, frustration, or boredom. Whatever the reason, it can prove to have a significantly negative impact on your teeth and oral health.
Negative Effects of Nail Biting
Nail Biting can cause the following oral health complications:
People who are in the habit of biting their nails can develop Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can cause facial pain, tense muscles, jaw pain, sensitive teeth, headaches, improper jaw balance, injury to tooth enamel, and receding gums. You could say that biting your nails is a gateway habit to Bruxism.
2. Damage to Teeth
Nails are a pretty tough structure, so biting them can severely harm your teeth. They can cause teeth to crumble, cause them to be worn down to the gums, cracked, chipped, or eroded. Basically, your teeth may be strong, but your nails are too. Therefore, your teeth can really suffer from this habit if not corrected.
3. Damage to Enamel and Roots
The enamel covers the outer layer of your teeth. It is the hardest and highly mineralized substance, but even enamel is no match for your nails. Over time, you can fracture that enamel with continued nail biting. Moreover, nail biting after orthodontic treatment, such as receiving braces, has shown to lead to root resorption; a process where parts of the roots of your teeth are dissolved by the bone around them, causing the roots to be weaker.
Nail biting can cause you to have a gap between your teeth (Diastema), especially if it starts young. Gingivitis, or an inflammation of the gums, can be another possible effect. Finally, nail biting can lead to a disk displacement in the temporomandibular joint, so a pain in the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull in front of your ear can be a result of this habit.
5. Transmits Bacteria
Finally, you don’t know what’s lying under your fingernails or your fingertips, so when you put them in your mouth, all sorts of bacteria and diseases can be transmitted. You touch all sorts of things throughout the day, so you would do well to keep your touching implements away from your mouth.
If You’re a Nail Biter, There Are a Few Things You Can Do to Help Kick the Habit:
With so many negative effects of nail biting, you may want to try and break this bad habit. Here are some tips on how to do it:
1. Keep Them Manicured
If you are a female, this tip could work well for you. If you keep your nails neat and pretty, you will be less inclined to try and bite them, effectively ruining your magnificent manicure. You can also try a special nail polish that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth to keep your fingers out of it.
2. Address the Source of the Anxiety.
If you believe the root cause of your habit stems from anxiety, you may want to closely evaluate what could be triggering it. This can be a difficult feat for some, but understanding what is causing your anxiety (and in turn, your nail biting) is a great first step towards addressing and remedying your stressors.
3. Commit to it.
Breaking any habit can be a tough process. This is especially true if it’s a habit that you’ve had for most of your life, so you’re going to have to commit to it. Because most people aren’t even aware of when they are biting their nails, have your friends remind you of when you are chomping away. If you’re dedicated enough to the well-being of your oral health, it is a habit that you can certainly beat once and for all. Your teeth and your smile will thank you for it!
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