Is Biting Your Nails Bad for Your Dental Health?

Is Biting Your Nails Bad for Your Dental Health?

Posted by Del Mar Family Dental Care on Nov 17 2021, 06:01 AM

Nail biting or onychophagia, a seemingly harmless habit, is a serious oral health hazard. It can lead to gum disease, oral infections, and shift the position of your teeth.

According to Dr. Seung Lee, DDS, at Del Mar Family Dental Care in Aurora, Colorado, it takes more than just brushing twice a day to have healthy teeth. Here is how nail biting can affect your dental health.

Why Do People Bite Their Nails?

Fingernail biting is not just a childhood phenomenon. According to studies, millions of adults tend to do this regularly. This repetitive disorder may be a result of underlying conditions such as:

  • Boredom or impatience
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Chronic stress and anxiety

Why Is Nail Biting Harmful?

Your fingers touch hundreds of surfaces every day. Despite washing your hands, surface bacteria like salmonella and E.coli linger on the nail beds. When you bite your nails, these harmful pathogens get transferred onto your teeth and gums and may cause issues like:

  • Gum Disease

According to studies, more than 3.5 billion people suffer from some form of gum disease and nail-biting is often an overlooked cause. The bacteria and dirt in your nails set gingivitis and periodontitis in motion.

  • Oral Malocclusion

Repeated nail biting puts constant pressure on your jawbone. This can cause your teeth to shift from their natural positions. Shifting teeth lead to bite problems and changes the alignment of your smile.

  • Halitosis

With all the germs hiding underneath them, you are likely to allow more bacteria to enter your mouth when you are biting your fingernails. The accumulation of harmful bacteria that release sulfur compounds can result in bad breath.

  • Damaged Teeth

Nail biting can cause enamel deterioration. This leaves you with discolored teeth and may also lead to significant tooth damage like cracked and chipped teeth. It also accelerates decay and causes pain.

How to Stop Biting Your Nails?

Dr. Lee recommends these simple tips to curb nail-biting:

  • Treat the underlying cause first. If you are stressed, practice mindfulness and meditation to calm your mind.
  • Trim your nails regularly so you don’t have what to bite on.
  • Paint your nails. The bitter taste of the nail paint acts as a deterrent.

Contact Del Mar Family Dental Care at (303) 577-0062 to learn more about how biting your nails can affect your dental health or visit us at 797 Peoria St. Unit A, Aurora, CO 80011 for queries related to onychophagia-induced dental damage. 

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797 Peoria St. Unit A, Aurora, CO 80011

Phone: (303) 577-0062

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Phone: (303) 577-0062