If you are a nail biter you probably already know some of all the bad things nail biting can cause. I am thinking about things like ingrown nails, skin infections, and stomach virus – just to mention some.
Read also: 9 Reasons To Stop Nail Biting
But do you know how nail biting can affect your teeth?
A bit more than a year ago I read an article about the effect nail biting can have on the teeth. And I was very surprised to read about those consequences. I had never thought about this before.
Among other things, nail biting can wear the enamel away on your teeth and they could get chipped or cracked. They are certainly being worn down and you are increasing the risk of root resorption.
This was yet another wake-up call for me and another good reason to stop my nail biting.
Below I have listed some of the not so obvious consequences of nail-biting. Opposite a very severe bitten nail or infection around the nail bed, these you will not see or feel right away.
But with the long-term effects and costs they can create, this is something you wanna know about.
Tooth enamel wears away
The tooth enamel is the visible part of a tooth, covering the crown. It helps protect our teeth from daily use such as chewing, crunching and grinding. So make no mistake – the tooth enamel is very important for you.
But although enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, nail biting can wear it away (especially on the front teeth) and because enamel is not living tissue, it can’t be naturally regenerated. So basically, once it’s gone, it’s gone!
As the enamel wears away, you may start to notice increased tooth sensitivity or sometimes even pain.
Fractured or chipped tooth
Although teeth are very durable and can stand up to many things, they should not be used as a tool. And that is basically what you do when you bite your nails.
When you bite your nails you put a lot of pressure on your front teeth, which they are not intended to withstand. And that concentrated force put on a small spot on your tooth, can result in a fracture or lead to a chipped tooth.
Now you might think: “But a chipped tooth can be fixed easily!”
Yes, it can – with money most things can be fixed. But continued nail biting can cause the filling to break or create more severe tooth damage that will need a permanent solution, such as a crown.
Nail biting puts a lot of pressure on your teeth and the roots. And if you have been a chronic nail biter for many years, this could lead to crooked teeth.
Crooked teeth will need to be straightening with braces.
Nail biting with braces
It should be clear by now that nail biting is no good. But if on top of your nail biting you also wear braces….well then you are in for a whole new set of problems.
Below are some of the damaging effect nail biting can have, if you also wear braces:
- Biting nails while wearing braces (or had braces in the past), will risk your teeth to become crooked again
- Biting nails put additional pressure on your teeth and their roots. So if you bite your nails while having braces, you could delay the process of straightening your teeth, meaning you will need to wear your braces for longer
- You could damage the braces by breaking brackets and bending wires. This would also delay your treatment
Bruxism, or more commonly known as teeth grinding, is another activity that can be seen among nail biters.
A study published in General Dentistry found that nail biters are at an increased risk for developing teeth grinding.
If not treated, teeth grinding can have some serious consequences such as:
- Teeth can be worn down
- Tooth enamel is rubbed off, causing increased sensitivity
- Jaw pain and popping jaw
- Chronic headaches
People are often not aware that they grind their teeth. Personally, I found out when my wife told me I was doing it at night. And it started to make sense why I had pain in my jaw and headache when I woke up in the morning.
So it is important to be aware of the above signs. If you suspect you grind your teeth, seek help from your dentist. He will be able to suggest the best method of treatment.
Some last words
So as you can see, the consequences of nail-biting go beyond those small short-eaten fingernails. It can have some long terms effect and you can end up with problems that in general has nothing to do with your fingernails.