If you’re a nail-biter, you know that the habit can be painful and embarrassing. But did you know that it affects more than your fingers and can actually lead to serious oral health problems?
Your dentist in Phoenix wants you to be aware of any habits that put your oral health at risk, so here’s what you need to know about nail-biting and kicking the habit.
Why Do We Bite Our Nails?
Researchers are still looking for the medical reason behind the habit, but we do know it’s widespread; the National Institutes for Health says that 20 to 30 percent of us are nail biters. There’s even a name for it - onychophagia
People bite their nails for different reasons, but it’s typically associated with:
- Deep concentration
3 Reasons to Stop Biting Your Nails
Nail biting isn’t just an unattractive habit that ruins your fingernails; it can also lead to numerous oral health problems:
- Exposure to bacteria – When you put your fingers in your mouth, you expose yourself to all sorts of bacteria. Even washing your hands doesn’t help much as bacteria can linger under your nails and spread to your teeth, gums, and tongue.
- Teeth grinding – Researchers have found that nail biters are more prone to teeth grinding. Also referred to as bruxism, teeth grinding places excessive force on teeth and lead to gum recession and wearing and destruction of tooth enamel.
- TMJ – Problems with your jaw joint (TMJ) are often the result of overuse resulting from teeth grinding and clenching.
Ways to Curb the Nail Biting Habit
There are ways to break the habit including cutting your nails short, coating your nails with bitter-tasting polish, and trying techniques like yoga and meditation for managing your stress.
If you bite your nails, you’re putting your oral health at risk. But at Dental Care at Moon Valley, we offer services that protect your oral health and tips for quitting the nail-biting habit. Please call our office at (602) 843-6000 to arrange a consultation with one of our dentists to learn how we can help.