Bad Habit to Beat: Nail Biting

Nail biting can be painful and cause tooth troubles.

Nail biting can be painful and cause tooth troubles.

Nail biting may seem like an innocent habit, but this oral behavior is considered “pathological grooming” and often grouped with other habits like hair pulling and skin-picking. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association was even considering classifying severe nail biting as a mental disorder.

Not only can nail biting affect your daily life, it can also cause problems in your mouth. Regularly biting your nails can cause your teeth to move out of place. In addition, nail biting could potentially cause teeth to break or tooth enamel to splinter.

Nail biting may also lead to more serious dental issues, like bruxism. Bruxism technically refers to the unintentional grinding or clenching of teeth. This clenching or grinding can cause a myriad of other issues including facial pain and headaches.

Regular nail biting can:

  • Contribute to skin infections
  • Aggravate existing conditions of the nail bed
  • Increase the risk of colds and other infections by encouraging the spread of germs from the nails and fingers to the lips and mouth

To stop nail biting:

  • Avoid factors that trigger nail biting, such as boredom
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety
  • Keep your nails neatly trimmed or manicured
  • Consider using bad-tasting nail polish
  • Occupy your hands or mouth with alternate activities, such as playing a musical instrument or chewing sugar-free gum
  • In some cases, behavior therapy to stop nail biting might be warranted

So avoid the pain and beat this habit for good!

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