Nail biting is one of the more common bad habits dentists see, but why exactly is this nearly universal occurrence so discouraged? Is it true that nail biting is bad for your teeth and if so, what is the specific danger? The truth is, there are many risks associated with chronic nail biting and giving up this poor habit is one of the best favors you can do for your teeth in the long term. The good news for biters is that there are a few solutions to try that can help discourage this behavior and maintain happy, healthy teeth.
Nail biting puts a pressure on your front teeth, which they are not intended to withstand, known as shearing. Although teeth are very durable and can stand up to many different things, the shearing that nail biting creates can lead to chipping. Since most nail biters habitually use their front incisors to get at their overgrown nails, this ends up damaging the most visible teeth in your smile.
A chipped tooth is easily remedied by dentists with a filling. Though it costs a bit of money, it ends up being necessary to preserve the tooth and hopefully prevent further chipping. Unfortunately, continued nail biting can cause the new filling to break, leaving you in the same situation you were in when you started. Worse still, repeated filling and biting can cause more severe tooth damage that will need to be repaired with a more permanent solution, such as a crown.
Changing your habits
The best medicine in this case is preventative. To avoid the damage caused by nail biting, your best bet is to attack the problem at its source, by remedying the bad habit. Of course, this is easier said than done as anyone who has tried to give up a long-held routine can tell you. Persistence is a necessary tool for sure, but there are a few others that can help as well. Special polishes are offered for your nails that have a bitter but non-toxic flavor, discouraging nail biting. You can also try replacing the bad habit with something else, like chewing sugar-free gum. Just make sure the new habit isn’t as bad as the old one!