Serving patients of Erwin, Jonesborough, and Greeneville TN
You may recall your mother getting onto you as a child for biting your fingernails, or you may correct your children when they bite their fingernails. In either case, biting your fingernails is a bad habit. Although the habit may seem harmless, it can have adverse consequences on your oral health. That’s why our Greeneville family dentists at Tusculum Dental Care share on the blog today why you shouldn’t bite your fingernails and how to stop the bad habit.
Poor Dental Occlusion
Occlusion in dentistry is how a patient’s teeth come together when biting down, where the upper jaw connects to the lower jaw. Constantly biting fingernails can generate uneven pressure and shift the teeth out of alignment over time. Additionally, teeth may change shape or position and require a retainer or braces to correct the bite pattern. Children are especially at risk for developing dental occlusion because their mouths and teeth are still forming. Therefore, our Erwin dentists who treat children recommend addressing the nail-biting habit during the adolescent years to prevent future oral health complications.
Gum Disease and Infections
One reason you or your child may bite the nails is to remove a hangnail or to trim them. However, since human hands are rarely clean of all germs and bacteria, they could cause gum disease or an infection. Additionally, after biting the nail, small bits may get stuck between teeth or in the gums, potentially resulting in gingival trauma or gingivitis.
Chipped or Broken Teeth
Biting your fingernails could actually lead to chipping, fracturing, or breaking a tooth or dental restoration, which leads to costly repairs or time spent in the dental chair. Fingernail biting could also loosen or dislodge brackets and wires if you have braces.
Nail-biting is a condition that often develops because of nervousness or anxiety. In many cases, it can lead to additional anxious physical acts such as clenching and grinding teeth when sleeping, also known as bruxism. Our Jonesborough family dentists explain that clenching and grinding teeth can cause extensive damage to tooth enamel. Therefore, breaking the habit by resolving the underlying issues that lead to nail-biting may also reduce bruxism.
Fingernails harbor germs, even if you regularly wash your hands. Dirt and germs accumulate underneath the fingernails and are transferred into the mouth. Unfortunately, the germs and bacteria remain in the mouth and promote bacterial growth that causes bad breath.
Family Dentist in Greeneville, Jonesborough, and Erwin, Tennessee
The most challenging thing about biting fingernails is learning how to stop, especially for young children. However, encouraging different behaviors in place of the habit can reduce nail-biting occurrences. For example, when faced with high stress or anxiety levels, squeeze a stress ball or keep fingers busy with a fidget spinner. Perhaps chewing sugar-free gum could also help take your mind off of wanting to bite your fingernails.
If you have questions about fingernail biting or would like to schedule an appointment at our Greeneville dental office, please call Tusculum Dental Care at (423) 639-7575 or contact us through our website today.