Is biting your nails harmful to your dental health?

Since we were little, our mothers have been telling us not to bite our nails because it is bad, don’t bite your nails because you will get bugs, but…. is it really so bad to bite your nails?

What is onychophagia?

Nail biting is a habit of nervousness or even boredom or stress. Not only is it an aesthetic aspect of our hands as we remove our cuticle, but it also affects our dental health.

This habit is known as onychophagia, which occurs in both children and adults. It is estimated that between 45% and 60% of children suffer from it.

What aspects cause nail biting?

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, nail biting may cause your front teeth to break, chip or wear down. For those who wear orthodontics the problem is even greater, as they put themselves at risk for root resorption or tooth loss, due to the pressure of the teeth.

Below we will look at six cases that we could suffer from this bad habit:

Bacteria and infections. When we bite our nails, we put our hands in our mouth, so we have the risk of bacteria or fungi causing an infection. Among the most common bacteria that we can catch are Staphylococcus or Escherichia coli. This type of bacteria is manifested by the appearance of fungi and herpes.

2. Dental wear. When we bite our nails we exert pressure on our teeth and this causes them stress. As mentioned above, this is more likely to occur in people undergoing orthodontic treatment.

3. Caries. Another problem of nail biting that we are not aware of, but closely related to the previous ones is the increased tooth decay. This is due to the bacteria that we cause to reach our mouth.

4. Halitosis. It sounds like a lie, but it is not. Bacteria along with poor oral hygiene can contribute to the development of bad breath.

5. Alterations in the jaw. Continued chewing affects our bones and muscles that link the skull to the lower jaw. This contributes to the appearance of alterations in the temporomandibular joint or commonly known as TMJ. Among the discomforts we may feel are problems opening and closing the mouth, headache, earache and jaw pain.

6. Bruxism. The pressure that causes tooth wear is directly related to bruxism. Among the discomforts we may feel are the typical headache and facial pain, receding gums, tooth sensitivity and even tooth loss.

How to stop modifying your nails?

The problem of nail biting must be controlled so that it does not escalate and cause any of the cases mentioned above. It is a difficult thing to do, because this habit becomes a kind of vice that is done without being aware of it.

One of the methods are those special polishes that have a somewhat unpleasant taste that makes us lose interest in biting our nails. On the other hand, onychophagia is directly related to anxiety, so better stress management is helpful in achieving cessation.

Increase your intake of calcium and magnesium to strengthen your nails and try to distract your mouth with other actions such as chewing gum or candy.

Undoubtedly, the most convenient thing to do is to visit the dentist to see if any damage has occurred and to be able to combat it in time .

Nail biting or onychophagia is present in people of all ages. The problems it can cause are serious, such as dental wear, jaw alterations or bruxism, among others.

Do you need a dental check-up in Granada?

In Cervantes Dental Clinic in Granada we care about your dental health, so we advise you properly to treat your specific case.

As we always say, each one of us is different, and so is our case. For this reason, personalized and attentive service is our daily routine.

If you need a dental health check-up or we can help you to stop your nail biting habit, just call or write us, we will be happy to help you.

Smile is a universal language. Come to our dental clinic in Granada and we will advise you. First appointment free of charge!

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