How Nail Biting Impacts Oral Health

Do you bite your nails as a nervous habit? Many adults know that biting their nails is a bad habit and should be corrected. But many patients may not know that nail biting can lead to dental problems. As your local dentist in Chapel Hill, NC, we’re here to educate you on dental problems that can affect your daily life. Knowing how bad habits like nail biting affects your smile and how we can address these problems in our dental office.

Your dentist in Chapel Hill, NC

Nail Biting Problems From Your Dentist in Chapel Hill, NC

No matter your age, biting your nails could lead to these problems over time:

Tooth Damage

The friction from grinding your teeth on your nails can possibly chip, crack, or fracture teeth. We will recommend dental veneers or tooth crowns to cover and protect damaged teeth. Porcelain veneers cover the front of each tooth with shell-like treatments and can cover one or all of the teeth in the smile line.

Dental crowns are better for larger areas of damage, particularly molars, as they can completely cover single teeth. Crowns can address fractured teeth and protect teeth from further damage or patient discomfort when biting and chewing.

Bite Problems

Nail biting can contribute to malocclusion or tooth misalignment. Pressure on the teeth and the tooth roots can create bite problems and misaligned teeth. Pressure on the teeth can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). TMJ disorders are bite problems that create jaw pain, headaches, and can even lead to teeth clenching and grinding.

Nightguards and physical therapy are common treatments for TMD. Custom nightguards prevent patietns from clenching and grinding their teeth, while physical therapy teaches patients exercises to release tension in their face and jaw. If patients have misaligned teeth, we will recommend orthodontics like metal braces or Invisalign depending on their speicic needs.

Gum Disease

Dirt and bacteria can transfer from your nails to your mouth, sometimes contributing to problems like gum disease. Periodontitis, or gum disease, occurs when harmful bacteria build on the gums, especially between teeth. Gum disease can begin with inflamed, irritated, or bleeding gums and can eventually lead to gum recession and tooth loss. Periodontal treatments can remove plaque and tartar buildup on the gums and prevent the gums from receding.

How to Prevent Nail Biting

If you bite your nails, there are some things you can do to prevent damage from nail biting and to relieve your anxiety:

  • Paint your nails with bitter polish
  • Use fidget toys
  • Trim your nails
  • Get a nice manicure
  • Try breathing exercises

Knowing your triggers for nervous habits like nail biting can help prevent tooth damage and other issues. Addressing nail biting and redirecting your anxiety can also help alleviate stress.

If you need a dentist in the Chapel Hill area, call 919.736.6175. You can also request a dental consultation with Dr. Jim Furgurson online. Please let Dr. Furgurson know if you have questions about curbing bad oral health habits or addressing damage from issues like nail biting.