Nail Biting, which is clinically known as onychophagia, is an impulse control disorder, in which sufferers start biting their fingernails and the skin around the nails and cuticles, whenever they get anxious or nervous.
For nail biters, the habit is a self-soothing action or a way of keeping themselves alert and awake.
Apart from the unaesthetic shape of their fingernails, nail biters may experience pain around the finger tips when there is excessive gnawing of the nails and the surrounding skin. As bacteria are present under the nails, there is higher chance that nail biting will also result in illness or at least, an upset tummy. This habit also causes damage to dental health as well.
Nail biting and damaged teeth – what’s the connection?
Your dentist may have advised you to avoid chewing on hard nuts and ice cubes as it may chip your teeth. The same warning applies to nail biters. Nails are hard, so when you bite down on them you are causing excess stress to your teeth. Over time this weakens them and can eventually result in a tooth chipping or breaking.
Nail biting also causes stress to the gums, as well as the risk of bitten nails tearing into the gum tissue. In the long run, it will cause gum disease which will eventually cause loose teeth, missing teeth and other related medical ailments.
There are many reasons that one should stop biting their nail before it becomes a habit. You do not want the bad habit compromise your ability to smile with confidence.
If, however, nail biting has already caused damage to your teeth, apart from getting professional help to stop the habit, you need to see your dentist to reverse the damage. There are many treatment options for chipped teeth, depending on the severity, such as bonding, veneers or crowns. However, when it gets to the extent where your teeth are sensitive and getting looser, a gum specialist needs to assess the condition.
Nail biting can be a very expensive habit as it can result in your smile costing more to maintain or repair. If you are a nail biter, consider heading to the nearest pharmacy to pick up a bottle of vile tasting nail polish… it will change your life.