Biting nails is a habit most often started as a young child … maybe it begins when a nail breaks and a child does not have the knowledge or tools available to trim the nail correctly so he uses what is readily available … the teeth. Concerned parents can address this habit with their dentist who can then explain to the child all the reasons they should not bite their nails:
- Consistently chewing off nails can actually cause teeth to shift creating a malocclusion. This is particularly troubling for young nail biters. They are losing their primary teeth and their permanent teeth are erupting. During the formative years, the habit of nail biting can influence the spacing and shaping impacting the appearance and function of teeth.
- Dental enamel is the protective covering on teeth. It is hard by design, but not invincible. While fingernails may seem soft, and not a threat to hard teeth, the steady pressure that comes with biting nails can wear at enamel resulting in chipping and even breaking of one or more teeth.
- Jagged fingernails have the capability of cutting into the soft oral tissues of the mouth. These abrasions are uncomfortable, and can even result in infection.
- Hands come into contact with germs and bacteria and the fingernails provide lots of places to harbor microbes that will eventually end up in your mouth if you bite your nails. Even children would likely not put these same things in their mouth, but when biting nails the effect is the same.
- Gum disease can get its start due to biting or chewing fingernails. Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, can result in bleeding gum tissue; red, swollen gums; chronic bad breath; and loose teeth. If allowed to advance without being treated by your dentist, this can escalate to the more serious periodontitis which can result in tooth loss.
- Biting fingernails can contribute to problems with the jaw such as TMJ, which is an inflammation of the temporomandibular joint. The mouth and jaw take on many unusual positions to bite nails and over time, jaw issues can develop.
Resolving the dental problems from biting nails can be time consuming, costly, and uncomfortable. Biting nails is a habit that can be broken, and the patient will reap benefits to do so.
Contact our dental team at Euro Dental Studio for more tips about stopping bad dental habits today.