Nail biting is a bad habit that often begins early in life as a response to stress or boredom, or sometimes as a subconscious reaction to nervousness. While the habit tends to fade as we get older, it’s estimated that about 30% of people continue to gnaw on their nails into adulthood. At our dental office in Wicker Park, we know that nail biting is more than a bad habit. To us, it’s about all of the negative effects nail biting can have on teeth and overall oral health.
Your nails are one of the areas on your body where you can find tons of germs and bacteria. Usually wedged in between the nail and the skin of your finger, these germs and bacteria can be pretty harmful if ingested into your system. When someone puts their finger in their mouth and bites away at the nail, it’s an easy way for these bacteria to be released into the body which could lead to some serious illnesses.
Besides the risk to overall health, nail biting can wreak havoc on teeth and gums. Your dentist in Wicker Park will tell you that chronic nail biting has been linked several oral health issues including chipped, cracked, or worn down teeth, damage to the gum tissue, and bruxism. Bruxism, more commonly known as tooth grinding, can lead to headaches, recessed gums, tooth sensitivity, and even tooth loss.
Like any habit, stopping nail biting can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Trying to retrain yourself to quit nibbling on your nails takes a conscious effort. These tips can help.
Start by trying one of the above methods to quit biting your nails. If it doesn’t work for you, try another one. It may take persistence but once you quit biting your nails, your overall health and oral health will thank you.
In the meantime, if you happen to chip or crack a tooth, have gum damage, or suspect bruxism we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Wicker Park dental office. We’ll diagnose the damage and talk with you about the most appropriate treatment for you.