Is Biting Your Nails Bad For Your Teeth?

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Biting your nails, chewing on ice cubes, or chewing on the end of your pen are all considered bad habits, especially in relation to our oral health. You may have heard the old expression “teeth are jewels, not tools”. This is mostly true. While our teeth are designed for a function, just like any piece of equipment, using them for the wrong task can lead to damage. In this article, we will discuss a few of the ways that biting your nails can specifically hurt your oral health.

Biting Your Nails Can Lead To Cracking Your Teeth

Your nails are much harder than most food. Nails are made from keratin which is a hard material. Just like biting on a pen or biting on ice cubes, when you bite on your nails you are biting on a surface your teeth cannot easily break through. This leads to your teeth getting worn down, chipped, and even cracking over time. Often the solution for a chipped or cracked tooth is to remove the chewing surface of the tooth and replace it with a dental crown. In some cases, dental veneers might be recommended if the damage is purely cosmetic.

Nail Biting Leads To Bacteria in Your Mouth

Whether you can see it or not, our nails almost always have dirt and bacteria under them. The space between the nail and the fingertip is often filled with germs and bacteria. Chewing on your nails is a surefire way to introduce that bacteria to your mouth. Bacteria growth can lead to both damage to your gums and teeth as well as illness. These are both good reasons to avoid biting on your nails.

Chewing On Your Nails Is Bad For Your Jaw

Chewing on your nails is very similar to clenching or grinding your teeth. You are forcing your jaw to use more force than it probably should. Chewing your nails can also become part of a stress reaction. Some people chew their nails when they are nervous or anxious. This means that anxiety can become linked to clenching the jawbone which can lead to TMJ and other jaw issues.

Biting Your Nails Can Weaken Your Tooth Roots

Your teeth can only withstand so much pressure. While our teeth feel extremely strong, too much pressure on them can lead to them breaking in different places. While most of us are concerned about damage to the crown of the teeth, we might not realize that we are also damaging the roots beneath the gum line. Too much pressure can lead to the roots weakened and eventually make an adult tooth loose and eventually fall out.

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