Category Archives: Bruxism

How Nail Biting is Destructive to Your Teeth

Nail Biting - Woman biting nailsNail 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:

1. Bruxism

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.

4. Diastema, Gingivitis, and TMJNail Biting

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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Sleep Apnea and Oral Health: Is There a Link?

Sleep ApneaOur team is frequently asked about Sleep apnea, which is an increasingly common medical condition that causes sufferers to stop breathing for short durations repeatedly throughout the course of any given night’s sleep.

This disorder causes uncomfortable symptoms, including snoring, poor sleeping patterns, and fatigue during the day. But research is beginning to point to oral health as a key to understanding and possibly preventing the impact of sleep apnea.

Dental Symptoms which may cause Apnea

There are certain dental issues that indicate the presence of the disorder. Common dental symptoms include:

Jaw pain

– Dry mouth

– Weak or flattened teeth

– Worn enamel

– Cavities and cracked teeth

– Scalloped tongue edges

– Periodontitis

Sleep apnea affects the mouth by causing tooth grinding and clenching of the jaw, which wears away at the teeth over time. It also complicates oral health by causing a dry environment, thanks to the snoring that most patients suffer. A dry mouth creates an ideal environment for harboring bacterial growth and the advancement of periodontal disease.

How Can Your Dentist Help?

We consider your dentist as an important partner in helping you to learn about sleep apnea and oral health. They can give you the diagnosis you need to move forward with treating your sleep apnea. If you suspect sleep apnea may be related to the oral health issues you are experiencing, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist.

During your exam, you can expect your dentist to ask you about your sleep habits and check your mouth for signs of decay, grinding and other periodontal issues. If your dentist suspects sleep apnea, he or she will likely send you for a sleep study to determine the presence of the disorder.


Upon suspicion from your dentist, he or she will likely recommend a simple at-home treatment to start, such as a custom mouth guard for preventing tooth grinding at night. The guard will also properly align your jaw while sleeping to minimize snoring and improve breathability. This treatment may or may not be effective, depending on the individual and the severity of their condition.

If you experience issues like grinding through your mouth guard or a worsening of your apnea symptoms, your dentist will probably refer you to a sleep specialist to explore further treatment options. Only a medical doctor will be able to give you an official diagnosis.

In extreme cases when individuals stop breathing for longer durations of time while sleeping, specialists will often recommend CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines. CPAP machines are masks worn over the nose, continuously discharging oxygen and regulating oxygen intake throughout the night.

Sleep Apnea is Treatable

Sleep apnea and oral health are most certainly linked, so monitoring your dental health can give you an idea as to whether or not this may be affecting your sleep. Although the treatment capabilities from a dentist are limited, they can be the first professionals to recognize the presence of this medical condition at your next dental examination.

If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, or you simply wish to look into your options for custom night guards to minimize snoring habits, give us call at (860) 887-2231.

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Have a Toothache? It’s Not Always a Cavity

ToothacheMost adults in the United States have cavities; one study found that 91 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 had dental caries, the scientific name for cavities and tooth decay. Untreated tooth decay affects 27 percent of adults.

Yes, cavities are one of the most common causes of toothaches. However, they are not the ONLY things that could be causing your tooth pain.

Chipped or broken tooth:

Whether your tooth has been cracked, chipped, or totally broken, this common dental problem can cause excruciating pain when it comes to eating certain foods. Broken teeth can leave nerve endings in the pulp exposed; cracked and chipped teeth can irritate the pulp and nerves.

Infected gums:

Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, is a serious condition that can precede an even more serious condition, periodontitis, or gum disease. Gum inflammation and infection can be caused by a buildup of plaque, which can cause symptoms like chronic and consistent bad breath, bleeding or swollen gums, pain when chewing, and receding gum lines.

Teeth grinding:

Bruxism, or the involuntary habit of teeth grinding, is most common when an individual is sleeping. For that reason, the majority of people who grind, gnash or clench their teeth have no idea of the damage to their teeth they are causing. Aside from tooth pain, bruxism can cause a sore jaw, constant headache, and aching teeth, especially in the molars.

An infection at the root of the tooth:

Also known as an abscessed tooth, these infections happen when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected, the pulp becomes damaged, and a painful cyst appears. Typically, this infection causes a gnawing, throbbing or shooting pain, as well as other infection symptoms, like a fever or swollen glands. A root canal is the most common treatment.

Damaged fillings:

If you’ve had a cavity in the past, you’ve most likely had a filling put in to prevent the spread of the decay. When you’ve lost or broken your filling, you may feel increased sensitivity, a rough or jagged area, or may even feel the missing part of the filling. The treatment is usually to replace the filling, although larger damage may require a crown.

An abnormal bite:

Malocclusion, which is a misalignment, can cause under and over-biting, among other conditions. Due to the poor alignment, you might find that teeth have different wear patterns that can cause an alteration in the facial appearance, pain when chewing or biting, and biting the inside of the mouth more often. There are several different treatment options that are decided upon following an x-ray.

Aside from cavities and these more frequently found problems, tooth pain can be caused by a number of different underlying conditions. Sinus infections, enamel issues and even repetitive motions can all cause severe tooth pain.

To get to the root of the issue, it’s important to call our office immediately if you are experiencing ongoing or chronic tooth pain. Norwich Family & Cosmetic Dentistry can schedule your appointment and have you on your way back to a happy, pain-free lifestyle! Call us at (860) 887-2231 or click here to make an appointment today.