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Tacoma Dentist Explains 6 Ways a Nail Biting Habit Affects Your Teeth

Woman biting her fingernails

Nail biting is a notoriously bad habit but it’s also a common one. You may be stuck in this habit, yourself. While there are worse things than nail biting, you may not realize just how bad it is.

For example, biting your nails can have a seriously negative impact on your oral health. Here are six dangers to your oral health that could be caused by your nail biting habit.

1. Teeth Fractured by Nail Biting

It might seem outrageous to suggest that nibbling your fingers leads to cracked teeth. But if you have very tough nails that only get harder with each year that your biting habit persists, then they can indeed become damaging to your enamel.

Chewing with your upper and lower front teeth together puts an unnatural force on the enamel edges. Over time, your teeth can weaken and start to chip away.

2. Biting Your Nails Stresses Your TMJ

To neatly bite off a piece of your fingernail, your upper and lower front teeth need to align edge-to-edge. This is an unnatural position for your jaw. It’s a useful function, on occasion, but it puts a strain on the joint in your jaw. A lifetime of nail biting can lead to TMJ pain and dysfunction.

3. Tooth Root Resorption Caused by Nail Biting

The pressure needed to bite off your fingernails is bad for your tooth enamel and jaw, as explained above. It’s also bad for the roots of your teeth.

A habit of chewing on anything can put uneven pressure on your teeth and cause the roots to start slowly moving through the bone. This pressure can even make them resorb or dissolve.

Kids are very prone to this phenomenon since their teeth move easily through the immature bone tissue. That’s why teeth biting in the early years can lead to tooth alignment problems.

4. Slow Down Braces Treatment

Do you currently wear braces? Biting your fingernails could be interfering with your treatment. All the progress you’ve made so far can be lost if you have a habit of constantly putting pressure against your teeth.

5. Increase Risk of Bruxism

Bruxism is an unhealthy (and unconscious) habit of teeth clenching and grinding. It usually happens during sleep and is connected to high stress levels.

A nail nibbling habit can also lead to the development of a jaw-clenching habit because of all the strain you put on your TMJ. Bruxism, in turn, leads to worn tooth enamel and gum recession with an increased risk for tooth fracture. All this can potentially be caused by a nail biting habit!

6. Nail Biting Transfers Germs

Naturally, one of the most well-known reasons to avoid nail biting is the fact that this dirty habit introduces bacteria to your mouth. There are many different kinds of bacteria responsible for gum disease, cavities, and infected wounds. The more you transfer to your mouth via your fingernails, the more likely you are to get sick or develop a serious infection in your mouth.

Restorative and Cosmetic Dentist in Tacoma Fixes Damage Done by Nail Biting

How has your mouth been impacted by a habit of biting your nails? What can be done to repair the damage done? Would you like some help in kicking your habit? To learn more about the effects of nail biting and other habits on your oral health, contact Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS - Tacoma Family Dentistry

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