Can Nail Biting Harm Your Smile?

nail biting and oral healthAccording to statistics, approximately 60% of children and 45% of teenagers gnaw on their nails. This poor habit becomes less common as we grow, but there are still plenty of us that continue nail biting into adulthood. Despite the social stigma behind nail biting, it is often regarded as an unhygienic yet harmless habit.

Unfortunately, this isn’t completely true. Nail biting can actually ruin more than your manicure and can even potentially cause serious medical issues. Whether you’ve been biting your nails since you were a kid or you have recently picked up this nervous habit, we recommend looking into different ways to break your habit as soon as possible. Although we typically think about the damage nail biting causes to your hand, nails, and cuticles, it can also have a significant impact on your teeth. To explain more about the destructive effects of nail biting, dental implant provider, Dr. Daniel Fenton shares the top three ways nail biting can harm oral health for patients here in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Nail Biting 101: What Causes it and How Can it Harm Oral Health?

Before we get into the various ways that nail biting can harm your oral health, let’s take a look at the causes of this bad habit. In most instances, this habit will develop during childhood and eventually stop before entering adulthood. So, how does this habit develop in the first place? There are several causes of nail biting and it can vary from person to person, but the most common triggers of this habit include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Psychiatric disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Other emotional triggers like frustration or loneliness

A big issue with nail biting is that is can occur without an individual noticing it. This habit can become so automatic for many nail biters that they can even bite their nails to the point they bleed. It’s important to note that nail biting isn’t just horrible for your nails and cuticles. This common habit can also be detrimental to your oral health for the following reasons:

Nail Biting is Unsanitary: It’s not surprising that nail biting is an unsanitary habit when you consider all of the germs that hide underneath our fingernails. When you bite your nails, you’re simply allowing more bacteria into your mouth, which can lead to oral health problems along with increasingly the likelihood of catching the flu or other illnesses.

Places Pressure on Teeth: Biting your teeth frequently also places a lot of pressure on your teeth. In fact, this can even increase your chances of chipping your teeth and cause your teeth to become misaligned.

Can Trigger Bruxism: According to the Academy of General Dentistry, nail biters are more likely to suffer from bruxism, also known as grinding or clenching teeth. Like nail biting, bruxism places additional pressure on your teeth and may cause other problems like jaw pain, headaches, and sensitive teeth.

Contact our Office in Fort Lauderdale

If your nail biting is severe enough, your smile can certainly pay the price. It is especially dangerous for individuals that are already dealing with oral health problems such as gum disease or tooth decay. Without the proper attention, this can even progress to the point of tooth loss. Fortunately, there are plenty of restorative treatment options like dental implants to give patients a long-lasting, complete smile. To get started on your dental implant treatment, contact our office today to schedule your no-obligation consultation with Dr. Fenton.