Onychophagia, or nail biting, can have a significant impact on your dental health. Nail biting is not exclusive. Even though it is more common in children, a small share of adults bite their nails. If you are nail biter, it is important you understand the possible impact on your teeth and what you can do to stop.
What Causes Nail Biting?
Nail biting is believed to be linked to stress. It is considered to be a nervous habit which you might not even realize you are doing. Other nervous habits that can sometimes co-exist with nail biting includes thumb sucking, hair twisting, and tooth grinding.
How Does Nail Biting Affect Dental Health?
When you bite your nails, you are introducing bacteria to your mouth. The bacteria can possibly lead to inflammation which can leave your gums red and sore
Another reason nail biting is unhealthy for your teeth is that it can lead to wear and tear over time. As you bite your nails, the enamel on your teeth is weakened. As a result, your teeth are left vulnerable to problems, such as cavities and tooth decay.
Nail biting can also cause your teeth to shift. While biting your nails, stress is placed upon your teeth and eventually they can start to move slightly. Over time, it can even cause temporomandibular disorder. The disorder can cause jaw pain, popping in the jaw, and headaches.
What Can You Do to Stop?
Since nail biting is often a result of stress, most of the techniques for dealing with the habit focuses on changing behaviors. You can also work on blocking access to the nails.
Stress management techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can help to alleviate the stress you are feeling. You can also place a large rubber band on your wrist and snap it any time you realize you are biting your nails.
Other activities, such as keeping a diary, can be a great substitute to biting on your nails. Another method is to keep your nails cut short. Paint them with a bitter tasting polish. If you do bite your nails in the future, the taste of the bitter polish will remind you not to.
Talk to your dentist if you continue to struggle with nail biting. Your dentist has likely had experience with other patients who have faced nail biting. He or she can give you helpful tips that can help you beat the habit.
For more information contact dentists such as Willoughby Heights Dental for help.