How Nail Biting Habits Affect Teeth
Meet the Dentist
Hi there, I’m Dr. Brandon Bice, a dentist at Grand Dental Group who wants to make sure your teeth are healthy and well cared for, even when you are far from the dentist’s chair. This forum is dedicated to providing patients with extra advice and guidance for optimal oral health. I think I’ll call it the “adBICE Corner.”
Each month I will cover a new topic and I want this blog to be relevant to your needs. So, I invite you to leave behind comments and ideas!
I Have a Confession
I’m a nail biter—it’s true, even your friendly neighborhood dentist can be guilty of this destructive habit. Sometimes, I don’t notice I’m doing it. My nail beds have suffered, and, as a Dentist I know I’m jeopardizing my oral health every time my fingers touch my teeth.
The Hard Truth
Our teeth are stronger than our nails, but over time nail biting can cause significant damage to both teeth and gums. Consistently biting wears down the tooth surface and can cause chipping and cracking. I’ve worked on several patients who have chipped a tooth from nail biting. While you may not notice it, nail biting slowly wears down the tooth’s enamel, leaving teeth more vulnerable to acids and sugars and eventually can lead to tooth decay.
Beyond the damage to the tooth surface, nail biting exposes our mouths and immune systems to harmful bacteria that can lead to gingivitis or worse. The dirt and germs trapped underneath fingernails get transferred to your mouth and can make you sick. Think about it, your fingers collect bacteria from everything they touch each day. And did you know that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats, according to a 2012 study from the University of Arizona? Yuck – That’s a lot of bacteria.
So, What Can We Do?
While experts have not come to a definitive consensus on the cause of this habit, nail biting can be overcome if you work at it. Some solutions include trimming your nails short, carrying a nail file and using bitter tasting nail polish. Identifying triggers can help you find a substitute activity, like squeezing a stress ball. Before I wrote this article, I didn’t even think about kicking my habit, but after doing the research I’m ready to commit.
My choice? I’m going to schedule myself for a MANicure. Stay tuned for updates.
The oral health of our patients is our highest priority at Grand Dental. I will be here to help you learn how to take extraordinary care of your teeth, gums, bone and more. I welcome your suggestions for new topics and would be happy to answer your questions – so reach out with your comments.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.