Watching a thrilling movie or the championship game can be a 'nail biting' experience. The excitement has us sitting at the edge of our seats, our hearts pounding... and some of us even taking the 'nail biting' aspect literally.
How does nail biting affect your teeth?
The primary issue with nail biting is the pressure it puts on your front teeth. These teeth are not built to withstand the same amount of pressure that your molars are. Nail biting can cause the enamel protecting your teeth to fracture as well as wearing down and chipping the edges. Despite being the hardest substance in your body, enamel is by no means invincible.
Chewing your nails creates rough edges which can cut the tissue in your mouth. Complicating this is the presence of bacteria and fungi that are on your fingers and under your nails. When you bite your nails you put yourself at an increased risk of infection, by giving these bacteria a new way to access your mouth and even your bloodstream. Conversely, the mouth has many bacteria that can infect your finger tips.
If you have braces, nail biting adds an extra level of stress to your teeth. Braces already put pressure on your roots as they reposition your teeth. With the added pressure of nail biting the roots can be shortened. In extreme cases this shortening can reach a point where the teeth are significantly weakened.
Take a breath!
You most likely bite your nails when you are stressed, bored or excited. Sometimes you do it subconsciously.
Here are a few tips on how to cut nail biting out of your life:
- Trim and file your nails - well maintained nails may encourage you not to bite them
- Take notice of when you bite your nails, write down what you are doing and watch for patterns. Awareness of the cause can help you break the habit
- If you wake up and find that you have bitten your nails in your sleep, try wearing gloves or applying adhesive tape over your nails
- Buy nail polish. A bitter tasting nail polish is available to help nail biters cut down
- Relax! Many nail biters cite stress as a trigger. If you feel stress coming on take a deep breath and practice stress relief techniques, rather than biting into your beautiful nails