The Dental Consequences of Nail-Biting

Frightened and stressed young business woman biting her fingers,With all the threats to your oral health out there, it’s enough stress to make you bite your nails. But of the many nervous habits, biting your nails is one of the worst for your oral health! Next time you find yourself tempted to use your teeth as clippers, consider the following:

Nail biting can wear down your teeth over time, causing enamel wear and uneven biting surfaces. Your teeth need a break between meals, but chewing your nails means they are essentially being used all day. This puts stress on your front teeth, which can cause them to become misaligned.

Nail biting is bad for your jaw. It can contribute to Temporomandibular jaw disorder, which you may have heard of as TMJ, which causes jaw pain, headaches, and locking and popping of the jaw. Severe cases can even make it impossible for you to close or open your mouth. Additionally, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, people who bite their nails are at greater risk for a condition called bruxism, which is the unintentional grinding or clenching of the teeth and has its own set of negative effects including broken teeth, muscle and cartilage damage, poor sleep, and problems eating or speaking.

Beyond the effects on your teeth and jaw, there are also sanitary concerns. Even if you’re a compulsive hand-washer, your hands are still one of the most germ-laden areas of your body, and the fingernails, which regularly trap debris, are the dirtiest areas of the hands. When you bite your nails, you are exposing yourself to illness-causing germs that transfer from your hands to your mouth. This is the most common way illnesses are transmitted, from the common cold to serious and life-threatening conditions.

Along with the costs to your quality of life, nail-biting also carries a very literal price tag. According to the AGD, people who bite their nails pay an average of $4,000 in additional dental bills over their lifetime compared to those who don’t. That’s not even including the medical bills from increased exposure to illness via germy hands, or the medical solutions necessary to correct bruxism or TMJ.

If you’re a nail-biter who needs to quit, Infinite Dental Wellness can help. There are a variety of dental strategies and appliances that discourage bad habits. Contact us for an exam and consultation today!