Nail Biting And Oral Health

WE CALL SUSPENSEFUL BOOKS “nail-biters,” but the habit of nail biting itself has less exciting connotations.

The most obvious consequence is torn, uneven nails, and in particularly severe cases, nails that become dramatically shortened and deformed over time. This alone would be enough of a reason to discourage the habit, but far more insidious are the effects of nail biting on teeth and oral health.

Consequences For Teeth And Gums

Teeth should never be used as tools, and that includes using them as nail clippers. Over time, nail biting, or oncyophagia, can lead to a variety of complications.

Malocclusion and gaps

Grinding the front teeth together in order to bite through nails can gradually cause them to shift, creating a bad bite—malocclusion—or a gap between the top teeth.

Wearing, chipping, and cracking

At the same time that teeth are shifting into less than ideal positions, they could also be getting chipped or cracked, and they are certainly being worn down.

Root resorption

The pressure chewing nails places on the teeth can actually cause the jaw bone to begin re-absorbing the roots of those teeth, weakening them and increasing the risk of tooth loss. Having braces makes the risk of root resorption even greater.

Gingivitis

Fingernails trap a lot of dirt and microorganisms under them, and chewing on them introduces all of that bacteria to the mouth, which can lead to gum disease.

Increased risk of developing bruxism

People who chew their nails are more likely to develop a chronic teeth-grinding habit, which causes even more problems for the teeth, as well as frequent headaches and facial pain.

Why Does It Happen?

Compulsive nail biting has traditionally been thought of as a nervous habit, but recent studies indicate it may have to do with boredom and perfectionism as well as anxiety. It’s one of several body-focused repetitive disorders, such as picking scabs and pulling hair. Biting nails can be comforting or it can simply provide something to do. Many people who bite their nails don’t even notice they’re doing it. That, of course, makes stopping much harder.

Breaking The Habit

There are many different strategies nail-biters can use to help overcome the urge to keep chewing those nails.

  • Keep nails trimmed short so there isn’t much to bite.
  • Use bitter-tasting nail polish to make nail biting unpleasant.
  • Get manicures so that you’re more motivated to keep your nails looking nice.
  • Replace nail-biting with a different habit, such as squeezing a stress ball or playing with silly putty.
  • Identify your triggers. If you know the circumstances that cause you to bite your nails, you can make plans for dealing with them.
  • Stop gradually. Pick one or two fingernails at a time to stop biting (you might need to cover them to physically prevent yourself from biting them), then gradually add more fingernails until there are none left to bite!

We’re With You All The Way!

Our patients’ oral health is our top concern, which makes us your biggest ally against bad habits that put your oral health in jeopardy. If you have any questions or concerns about nail biting or would like more advice on putting the habit behind you, don’t hesitate to call us!

Our practice is rooting for you!

Top image by Flickr user Maxwell GS used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Posted in Blog

NEW PATIENT ONLINE OFFER
FREE Initial Consultation!
(a $98 Value)

CONTACT US TODAY FOR DETAILS

Contact Us

NAME:

EMAIL:

PHONE:

MESSAGE:

View our privacy policy

Testimonials

  • Appointment on time, met with a pleasant greeting, procedure explained in full, caring and sensitive professional, departure within expectations. Just an outstanding dental visit - and just as expected!
    —Bryan S. | February 18, 2014
  • My visit was a positive experience in every respect. Dr. Behner is very thorough and meticulous, his staff competent, very friendly and helpful.
    —Betty G. | April 17, 2014
  • The first dentist in my life I've enjoyed going to. Fixed my smile and got me in for my appointment when I needed it to accommodate my hectic schedule... If I had one word to describe: amazing.
    —Brie P. | May 7, 2014
  • I was nervous, everything was geared to make me feel at ease. A last minute option of nitrous was no problem and helped since I was in the chair for extensive services.
    —Alb | June 26, 2014
  • Extremely caring staff that put me at ease and seemed to understand my fears.
    —Leilani | July 16, 2014
  • The whole process was very relaxing and comfortable. The atmosphere was very nice and the staff was terrific. Thanks.
    —Natalie | July 28, 2014
  • Treated with kindness and respect as always.
    —Anonymous | Sept 18, 2014
DENTAL CARE TODAY PC -
E. DALE BEHNER DDS

If you are searching for an Indianapolis dentist to provide cosmetic dentistry, sedation dentistry, or dental implants, Dr. E. Dale Behner is here for you! Call today to schedule an appointment if you are in the area, including Fishers and Carmel. Dental Care Today PC - E. Dale Behner DDS
9744 Lantern Rd
Fishers, IN 46037
Call: 317-842-2337317-288-3638 DrBehner@dentalcaretoday.com
Write a Review
Review Us on Google Review Us on Yelp Review Us on Angies List
Connect With Us
Top 10 dentists in Fishers, IN
Dr. Elton D. Behner, DDS has been awarded as a top Dentistry practice with some of Fishers's best Dentists.
Verified by Opencare.com


Financing options for Indianapolis dentist Dr. Behner
Make A Payment