Your mother or your nail technician may have encouraged you to avoid nail-biting because it can make your hands look so unattractive. However, your dentist may also suggest that you quit for a more important reason. It has often been said that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit, but most patients who become aware of the dental issues caused by nail-biting are motivated to quit the habit much sooner.

Nail-biting is commonly associated with a nervous habit, anxiety, or stress. It’s a subconscious habit that can range from mild or infrequent to severe and chronic. Most patients are unaware of how often they are chewing the fingernails, pens, pencils, or other potentially dangerous objects.

They are your own nails. Just how dangerous can they be? Take a moment to consider the potential consequences:

A physical injury or even an infection of the gums, lips, cheeks, or tongue is commonly seen when a sharp fingernail accidentally scrapes the soft tissues inside the mouth.

Chronic nail-biting can impact the position of your jaw, the alignment of the teeth, and the appearance of your smile. To grasp the nail between the teeth, you must force your teeth and jaws into an unnatural or exaggerated position. This can certainly lead to a developmental issue as the teeth and jaws begin to adapt to their new positions.

Similar to patients who clench or grind the teeth, nail-biters may begin to experience facial pain, joint pain, headaches, and sensitive teeth. These symptoms are mainly due to the long-term stress on the muscles, joints, and ligaments that control the face and mouth. In fact many nail-biters begin to experience clenching and grinding at night, even during sleep, when the fingernails are not in the mouth at all.

The constant grinding of the teeth against the nail contributes to chipped and worn enamel. This weakens the teeth and can create cosmetic problems and sensitivity issues.

Your dentist understands the risks of nail-biting, but also recognizes its relationship to a stress and anxiety. It is possible to end the habit as well as repair any damage that may have resulted. Schedule an appointment with Dr. John M. Hucklebridge, serving Plano and surrounding areas, today for help.