Like many bad habits, they can be very difficult to break, especially if we do them because we’re concentrating or because we’re anxious. Unfortunately, chewing on any inedible surface can be detrimental to your oral health, according to your dentist in Newtown. It’s not just your enamel that’s at risk either. Nail-biting can cause other conditions to become worse, especially if you have orthodontics.
To learn how nail-biting affects your oral health and ways to stop it, keep reading. You’ll thank your dentist later for the advice.
How Nail-Biting Puts Your Oral Health Risk
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, patients who bite their nails regularly are at higher risk of chipping, cracking, and wearing down their teeth. Tooth enamel is strong, but it isn’t strong enough to break down the hard keratin that nails are made of.
Furthermore, if you currently have metal braces, nail-biting put your teeth at great risk of root resorption. Root resorption is when the teeth roots begin to shorten. Since your teeth are already undergoing pressure during orthodontic treatment, applying even more pressure via nail-biting only worsens this effect.
Bruxism and Bacteria
In a study published in the journal General Dentistry, patients who chewed on inedible items like fingernails, pencils, and pens were at a greater risk of developing bruxism. Bruxism, or chronic teeth-grinding, wears down tooth enamel and only increases the risk of worn-down, chipped, or cracked tooth enamel, leading to greater tooth sensitivity. Additionally, unintentional grinding or clenching can lead to facial pain, headaches, recessed gums, and tooth loss.
By constantly putting your fingers in your mouth, you put yourself at higher risk of bacteria exposure. It’s common for dirt, food, and other bacteria to collect underneath your nails, regardless of how short they’ve gotten. Oral bacteria can also travel underneath the nail and travel through the bloodstream, especially if you bite your nails so far down they start to bleed.
If you aren’t sure if you are suffering from bruxism-related symptoms, look for:
- Flat-looking tips of teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Popping or clicking of the jaw
- Indentations of the tongue
How to Reduce Nail-Biting
Your dentist in Newtown is all too familiar with nail-biting. Patients have exhibited sore, torn, and damaged gum tissue as a result of sharp and jagged fingernails scraping up against them. If you have a very serious case of nail-biting that needs to be treated, you may benefit from wearing a mouth guard to deter yourself from nail-biting, preventing future damage to your teeth and nails.
For more moderate cases, your dentist might recommend therapy techniques that reduce damage to teeth. One techniques includes resting the tongue upward with your teeth apart and lips closed.
Don’t let an anxious habit get in the way of your oral health. Schedule an appointment with your dentist in Newtown if you’re having issues with nail-biting.
About the Author
After earning his DMD degree from the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, Dr. Glen Barlow became a member of many dental organizations. They include the ADA, the Montgomery-Bucks Dental Society, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the International Association of Comprehensive Aesthetics. To learn more tips to quit nail-biting and about his practice, contact him at (215) 579-9900 or visit his website.