Wellness

Woman biting nails Woman biting nails Woman biting nails

Two-word answers

Q:

Does biting my nails harm my health?

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.

1. It can damage your teeth and gums.

Biting your nails — as well as chewing on pencils or crunching on ice — increases your risk of chipping, cracking or breaking your teeth. It makes it more likely that you’ll develop bruxism, where you unintentionally grind and clench your teeth. That can lead to facial pain, headaches, teeth sensitivity and more. It isn’t just your teeth. Sharp or jagged fingernails can damage your gums by causing them to tear.

2. It can make you sick.

Your hands, fingers and nails are full of germs. Putting them in your mouth increases your chance of illness, no matter how hard you try to keep your hands clean. Nail biting can spread bacteria from your body to your mouth, and into your bloodstream. So avoid getting sick and spreading germs by keeping your hands out of your mouth.

 

How to break the habit

 

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 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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