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The Oral Health Hazards of Nail Biting

added on: May 16, 2017
young woman biting nails while studying

Nail biting is a habit that can affect not only the appearance of your nails, it can also cause damage to your oral health. As with any habit, nail biting can be difficult to break, but at our dental office in Ramsey, we’re hoping that by providing our patients some information about the dangers of nail biting, both in regards to oral health as well as overall health, we’ll be able to help encourage nail biters to quit.

Oral Health Concerns

Nail biters have a higher incidence of chipped or broken teeth, gum damage, and worn down teeth. What’s more is according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), people who bite their nails are at increased risk for bruxism, or tooth grinding. Bruxism brings on its own host of problems like headaches, recessed gums and sensitivity, and even tooth loss. If someone is a nail biter and also wears braces, root absorption can be a real problem. Root absorption is when the tooth roots shorten, making the teeth weaker and more prone to premature tooth loss.

Whole-Body Issues

You don’t need your dentist in Ramsey to tell you that you shouldn’t put your hands in your mouth because they’re usually loaded with germs and bacteria. Your nails are no different. Common bacteria found under nails includes both Salmonella and E. coli which can be very easily transferred into the body through nail biting. Both of these bacteria can lead to serious infectious disease and would require immediate medical attention.

Top 4 Tricks To Quit Biting Your Nails

As we’ve discussed, nail biting is a habit, and habits are hard to break. Whether you bite your nails when you’re bored, or subconsciously when you’re nervous, identifying the triggers that cause you to put your fingers to your mouth is the first step. Once you know, try the following tips to help you quit.

  • Use a nail polish (don’t worry, it’s clear) that’s designed specifically to help nail biters quit. It has a bitter flavor and can help you associate nail biting with an unpleasant taste.
  • When people bite because of stress, it’s helpful to find an alternative stress reliever. Try taking up yoga, exercise, or deep breathing to help you relax without nibbling on your nails.
  • If the kind of bacteria that tend to live in nail beds grosses you out, look at close-up images of these germs. Just prepare yourself in advance as they can be pretty nasty.
  • The longer the nails, the easier it is to bite them. Keep nails trimmed short to give you less to bite.

While you’re working on quitting, stay persistent as it may take a few tries to totally stop. If you happen to have a setback and experience any oral health damage such as a chipped tooth or gum damage, give our Ramsey dental office a call to schedule an appointment with us. We’ll be happy to help.  


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