The last thing you may expect your dentist to show an interest in is your nails; however, if you're a nail biter, your dentist may tell you that you should try to kick the habit. Nail biting doesn't just impact your fingers; it may also damage your teeth and overall oral health.
How Biting Your Nails Affects Your Teeth
Although biting your nails may seem like a small thing that doesn't do any harm to anything but your nails, it may also affect your teeth. This habit puts regular small stresses on your teeth every time you use them to bite at a nail. This can be a particular problem if you chew on your nails with specific teeth all the time. Repeated bite stresses may eventually work on your tooth enamel, making it weaker, and may even chip or crack your teeth over time.
According to Colgate, nail biting may also be a contributing factor of bruxism, a condition where you grind your teeth. Even if your habit doesn't harm your teeth directly, excessive grinding may cause you problems, as it can lead to sensitive teeth, gum problems and even the loss of teeth in extreme cases.
Warning: Nail biting is a particularly serious issue if you're wearing braces, and your orthodontist should tell you to stop the habit. Braces put pressure on your teeth anyway. If you add to this pressure by biting your nails, you may suffer from a condition where the roots of your teeth shorten, which could lead to tooth loss. Nail biting may also break braces or their wires.
How Biting Your Nails Affects Your Gums
Biting your nails may also have a negative effect on your gums. Nail biting is often an subconscious habit, and you're hardly likely to think to wash your hands before you start chewing on them. This means that you often transfer bacteria from your fingers and nails into your mouth. If a sharp piece of nail scratches your gum or becomes embedded in it, or if you have an existing weakness in your soft tissues, this may lead to infection.
Tip: It can be hard to just stop biting your nails, especially if you don't realise you're doing it most of the time. You may find it useful to use a nail paint to start with. This varnishes the nails with a bitter substance, reminding you not to bite a nail as soon as you put a finger in your mouth.