Woman biting nails Woman biting nails Woman biting nails

Two-word answers

Q:

Does biting my nails harm my teeth?

A:

It could.

You may find nibbling on your nails comforting, but it can cause a host of problems for your mouth and your body.

What nail biting does to your mouth

Biting your nails — along with chewing on pencils or crunching on ice — increases your risk of chipping, cracking or breaking your teeth. It also increases your risk for developing bruxism, where you unintentionally grind and clench your teeth. Bruxism can lead to facial pain, headaches, teeth sensitivity and more. But it isn’t just your teeth that could pay the price. If a sharp or jagged fingernail snags your gums, it can cause tearing.

How the habit can impact overall health

Think about all the things you touch throughout the day. Do you want all of that going in your mouth? Probably not. Your hands, fingers and nails are full of germs, no matter how hard you try keeping them clean. Putting them in your mouth increases your chance of illness by spreading bacteria from your body to your mouth, and into your bloodstream.

Tips to break the habit, not your teeth!

 

Cut your nails short, so you won’t have much to bite. File any ragged edges to decrease the temptation to chew on them.

Find other ways to keep busy with your hands and mouth. Try squeezing a stress ball, making a fist or chewing on some sugar-free gum with xylitol.

Coat your nails with an over-the-counter product that has a bitter taste meant to stop nail biting.

Get a fun manicure. You won’t want to ruin how good your nails look!

Check with your dentist for additional ways to break the habit.

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