If you are nursing a nail biting habit, you may assume your fingernails are suffering the worst of the damage. However, your teeth can also be damaged by compulsive nail biting. Regular gnawing can make you susceptible to a host of dental issues.
Some of the most common issues include chipping, cracking, or breaking a tooth when chomping down on the hard surface of your nails. Biting can also damage gum tissue, thereby making you more vulnerable to gum disease and gingivitis. It is also correlated with bruxism — otherwise known as jaw clenching, tightening, and teeth grinding.
These symptoms of bruxism are also associated with TMJ issues, which can lead to a jaw that pops and locks, as well as facial and jaw pain. Even worse, biting your nails can weaken the roots of your teeth, which may result in crooked teeth, gaps, or tooth loss in the most severe cases.
The younger you are when the habit forms and the longer you continue to bite your nails, the greater the potential impact on your oral health. No matter a patient’s age, it’s important to take steps to stop a nail biting habit as soon as possible.
Drop the Habit, Protect Your Teeth
Whether or not you’ve noticed damage to your teeth from nail biting, you want to stop before it gets any worse. Nail biting is often caused by stress. If this is at the root of your habit, start by practicing healthy and productive stress coping techniques and committing to proper self care.
In the meantime, you can trim your nails short or paint them with an invisible, foul-tasting polish (available at many drugstores to aid in nail biting cessation). The sooner your quit chewing your nails, the sooner you can address any dental issues this habit may have caused and avoid escalated damage.
Whether or not your symptoms are caused by nail biting, if you are in the Seattle area and need help with a gap in your teeth, chips, gingivitis, TMJ problems, or even a simple dental checkup, contact the Don Sing DDS team for award-winning restorative dental care.