How Nail Biting Can Damage Your Teeth

You’re watching a thriller. The plot keeps thickening, the tension keeps mounting, and you’re not sure what could happen next. You might call that movie a nail biter. That’s because people will often start biting their nails, unbidden, during periods of high stress or anxiety. There are also people who have a compulsive nail biting habit. We’re not going to delve too deep into the how or why of nail biting here, but we do want to address an important facet of nail biting: it’s bad for your teeth.

This might come as a surprise to many of you. After all, teeth are very strong; nails, not so much. First, consider that while teeth are generally stronger than nails, sustained, repetitive forces can still wear them down – like waves against a cliffside. You’ll also want to keep in mind that teeth can become demineralized, reducing their hardness. This can contribute to how quickly nail biting will wear away at your tooth enamel.

The second thing to consider is that your teeth are incredibly complex; there’s more than meets the eye. The force from you biting your nails can be transferred to the roots of your teeth, which can, in rare cases, promote root resorption. Root resorption is, in basic terms, when your body eats its own tooth roots – not a good thing! There are a host of other problems that can be caused by nail biting – you can end up with TMJ pains, a misaligned bite, and many other orthodontic problems. All this, and we haven’t even mentioned what nail biting can do to the gums! Gums, being much softer than teeth, can easily become gashed by your fingernails.

Things get worse from here. Your fingernails are breeding grounds for bacteria, and they tend to get filled with all kinds of less than sanitary grime. Get that near a cavity or an open cut, and the bacteria from your fingernails are going to throw a party in your mouth. It’s not a party you want to be hosting.

There are all kinds of ways to help you break the nail biting habit. With all habits, one of the first steps to take is mindfulness – be aware that you have the habit, dwell in the present moment, and when you would bite your nails, don’t. You might instead opt for a healthy snack, like a carrot.  This process will involve identifying your nail biting triggers and responding to them. You can also deter nail biting by making your nails taste really bad – something of an anti-trigger.

Having trouble kicking the nail biting habit? We can help – we promise we won’t just suggest not watching scary movies. Are we the best dentist in Winnipeg for your horror story nail biting-related needs? Impossible to say; best is subjective. We can, however, tell you we’ll do everything in our power to help you curb your nail biting habit.