Is Nail Biting Bad for My Oral Health?

March 13, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — drsong @ 10:09 pm
Woman has dental pain

Your smile can be damaged by many bad habits, but did you know that nail-biting is one of them? Many people chew on their nails to relieve anxiety or out of simple boredom, and while this can lead to unpleasant consequences such as ragged nails, nagging hangnails, and infected nailbeds, it can also cause serious dental injuries. Here’s why nail biting is a horrible habit for your oral health along with a few tips for quitting.

Why Is Biting My Nails Bad for My Teeth?

Your teeth are designed for chewing and smiling, and using them for anything else (including nail clippers) can set them up for serious damage. Over time, nail biting can cause oral health problems such as:

  • Gaps and malocclusions: The force of frequently trying to bite through one’s nails can gradually push your teeth out of position, disturbing their alignment and even causing gaps to form between them.
  • Enamel erosion: Many people clench their front teeth together as they try to bite through their nails. This grinding can erode the enamel at the edges of the teeth, causing them to crack, chip, and sometimes even break.
  • Depleted roots: In some cases, the jawbone will begin to reabsorb the roots of the teeth due to the frequent biting pressure, making them weaker and more likely to be lost. Wearing braces increases the risk of root resorption.
  • Gum disease: The underside of your fingernails can be full of debris and germs. Chewing on your nails can expose your mouth to bacteria that can cause gingivitis.
  • Bruxism: Chewing on your nails makes you more likely to develop a teeth-grinding habit that can cause dental damage and chronic pain.

How Can I Break the Habit of Nail Biting?

There are a few ways to wean yourself off nail biting. One way is to trim your nails short to make sure that there isn’t much left to bite. You can also try using a nail polish with an unpleasant taste. If you get a manicure, you might be less willing to chew on your pretty nails. One of the best ways to kick a bad habit is to replace it with a good one, and chewing on sugar-free gum can help relieve stress while removing food debris from your mouth. Being aware of what makes you want to bite your nails can help you avoid the habit, and quitting gradually can make the task more manageable.

Don’t let nail biting wreck your beautiful smile. By being aware of the negative consequences of the habit as well as what drives you to do it can help you mindfully eliminate this destructive activity from your life.

About the Author

Dr. Song Ahn graduated from the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston in 1986 and has completed postgraduate courses in dental implant surgery, restoration, orthodontics, and cosmetic dentistry. He is proud to be a Board Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. His office in Houston, TX offers general, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. For more information on keeping your teeth healthy, contact his office online or dial (713) 869-9973.