Are you a nail biter who is tired of the habit? You may think it’s just you, but it’s not; some estimates indicate that between 20 and 30 percent of adults in the US bite their nails.
Nail biting is commonly associated with anxiety or tension, but that’s not always the case. Frustration, boredom, intense concentration and even hunger are also motivating factors. While you may want to stop biting your nails because it hurts and looks unattractive, many studies indicate a relationship between nail biting and an increase in dental and general health issues.
What’s Under Your Nails
You may wash your hands frequently throughout the day, but under your fingernails is a perfect place for bacteria to collect and then get carried to your gums, teeth, and tongue.
It’s an unpleasant thought, but what you need to know is that at least one study indicates that Enterobacteriaceae, a group of bacteria that includes E. coli, can lead to digestive problems and abdominal pain.
The ragged and rough nail edges left by a nail-biting habit can damage your gums and leave an open wound that’s exposed to bacteria that increases your risk for gum disease.
Teeth Grinding and TMJ
Many people who bite their nails also tend to grind their teeth, which can lead to dental damage and erosion and can lead to TMJ disorders.
Quitting the Habit
Now that you know there are many good reasons to try to curb the habit, here are some suggestions that should help:
- Trim your nails and keep them as short as possible
- Wear your mouthguard whenever it’s practical
- Try a polish that tastes bitter and is designed to curb the habit
- Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga to minimize stress
Please Call Us to Learn More
If you are a chronic nail biter and need a dentist in the Boise, ID area who can talk to you about your habit, please call Dr. Dave Cantwell at Atlantis Dental to arrange an appointment. He will check your mouth for signs of damage caused by biting your nails and monitor your oral health.