Do you bite your nails? It’s estimated that around a quarter of adults chew their fingernails. While nail-biting may seem like a harmless habit, it can actually damage your smile. This is because it can wear down your teeth over time and even crack them! In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to know about nail-biting.
What are the risks of nail-biting?
While nail biting may seem harmless, it’s actually quite bad for your teeth. Here’s five ways that biting your nails can harm your smile.
- Worn teeth. People who bite their fingernails – or indeed anything else, such as pencils, pens or ice – can gradually wear their teeth down over time, making their teeth more susceptible to decay.
- Chipped or cracked teeth. By biting your nails, there’s the risk that you could accidentally chip or crack your teeth. No-one wants that!
- Tooth loss. The risks of nail-biting are even greater for those who wear braces. This is because braces already put quite a bit of pressure on your teeth, and by biting your nails, you’re applying even more pressure. This can cause root resorption or even tooth loss. You definitely don’t want to lose your teeth after all the effort you’ve gone through to straighten them!
- Spread of bacteria. You can easily spread bacteria to your mouth by putting your fingers inside. The area under your nails is a surprising hotbed for bacterial activity, and by putting your nails in your mouth, you’re transferring the bacteria to your mouth and teeth.
- Teeth grinding. Nail biting can even lead to teeth grinding, according to research. A study has found that those who chew on their fingernails are more likely to suffer from teeth grinding later in life. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can lead to its own set of problems, including jaw pain and worn-down teeth.
How can I stop biting my nails?
As with any bad habit, it can be surprisingly difficult to stop. However, quitting is achievable. Here are some things you can do to make it easier to break your habit.
- Swap a bad habit for a good one. When you feel the need to bite your nails, try playing with an elastic band or a stress ball instead. This will keep your hands busy and away from your mouth.
- Apply bitter tasting nail polish to your nails. Some pharmacists sell a type of lacquer designed to help you stop biting your nails. It tastes awful, so if you apply a bit of it to your nails, you’ll soon learn not to chew them. Don’t worry though – it’s safe to ingest. Not that you’d want to though!
- Cut your nails short. Having short nails means there will be less for you to bite.
- Identify why you’re biting your fingernails. Some people bite their nails because they’re bored; others bite them because they’re stressed or anxious. Figuring out what’s triggering you can help you to avoid these situations. Even just understanding your problem better can help you to gain control over it.