How Nail Biting Effects Your Teeth

How Nail Biting Affects Your Teeth
Posted on 04/12/2019

How Does Nail Biting Affect My Child's Teeth?

You might think of people biting their nails as being unattractive and rather disgusting, but nail biting can actually not only cause damage to your overall health and wellbeing, it can cause some serious damage to your teeth. Pediatric dentists like those at Children’s Dentistry of Stuart work with kids to understand the negative effects nail biting can have on their teeth. Dr. Torres and Dr. Sugar provide dental treatment for many common problems as well as sedation dentistry to keep their Stuart and Palm City areas kids comfortable when visiting their dentist office.

Why Do Kids Bite Their Nails? 

According to research, kids can begin biting their fingernails as early as 4-years old and continuing up until anywhere between 10 and 18-years old. Fingernail biting is pretty common, occurring in about 30 percent of children and up to 50 percent of adolescents. Oftentimes fingernail biting begins when kids are nervous, stressed or anxious. Kids can bite their nails to relieve stress or even due to a more serious psychological disorder. And while some manifest those feelings into things like pacing or fidgeting, which can be harmless, biting your nails can put you at risk for several ailments. 

Besides the oral health risks that are discussed in more detail here, fingernail biting can cause infection - both in your body and in your nails. Your fingernails collect a lot of bacteria, fungus, yeast, and other germs underneath them and when you put those fingers in your mouth the germs transfer to your body and can spread cold, flu, gastrointestinal infections, and more. Long-term, habitual nail biters (called onychophagia) can also suffer from a type of infection called paronychia, where strains of bacteria enter your tears or abrasions in your skin and your fingers become inflamed. The wart virus is also a commonly spread to other parts of your body from nail-biting.

Negative Nail Biting Effects On Your Teeth

The pediatric dentist’s staff at Children’s Dentistry of Stuart often see new patients who are taking on the bad habit of biting their nails. There are many concerns for kids sedation dentists when it comes to their patients biting their nails. Nail biting can lead to:

Poor Dental Occlusion
  • The pressure you constantly put on your jaw bone when you bite your teeth can cause your teeth to shift out of position, or become shaped oddly, which can require correctional braces or a retainer. You can even displace your entire jaws. 

  • Gum Disease & Infection
  • Nail biters suffer from higher rates of gum disease and infection, including gingival trauma, and gingivitis. Your gums can also possibly experience accidental trauma. Pediatric dentists have found actual pieces of fingernails under kids’ gums that had been stuck there for who knows how long! The germs found under your fingernails could also potentially infect, or cause other irritation to your gums.

  • Broken or Chipped Teeth
  • Continually tearing off bits of your fingernail with your teeth can lead to chipping or fracturing of your front teeth. Your teeth could also break or even fall out. You can also cause damage to your tooth enamel. 

  • Grinding Of Molars
  • Since nail-biting is often a sign of anxiety or nervousness, it makes sense that nailbiters are more likely to grind their molars while they sleep at night. Excessive grinding can cause your teeth to eventually fall out. 

  • Breaking Braces
  • For those kids who are wearing braces, biting your teeth can cause damage to your brackets, wires or other appliance and it can also cause root resorption more easily, which means that your body's own cells start to eat away at themselves and destroy your tooth structure.

  • Bad Breath
  • With all those germs from your fingernails entering your mouth, it’s no wonder that even more bacteria will be primed to grow in your mouth and on your teeth. This is why kids who bite their teeth also are likely to have halitosis or bad breath.

  • How To Stop Biting Your Nails

    With all of these negative effects of nail-biting on your teeth, it’s not surprising that your Palm City pediatric dentists want you to know a few tips that might help you kick the nail biting habit.

  • Avoid environments that may trigger your child's nail-biting, such as overstimulation
  • Get your kids active as a way to manage stress and anxiety
  • Keep your children's nails neatly trimmed
  • When your kids start biting their nails, occupy them with something else to do with their hands, such as a favorite musical toy, fidget spinner, stress ball or electronic device. Or, try giving them chewing gum, if they are old enough.
  • There are over-the-counter products you can put on their nails to discourage nail biting.
  • In some cases, treatment with behavior therapy might be needed.

  • Contact Your Stuart Pediatric Sedation Dentist For More Information

    If you still have questions about the effects of fingernail biting on your kid’s teeth, please don’t hesitate to call our office for more information. We happily treat children from Stuart, Palm City, and the surrounding areas and are happy to answer any questions you may have about our early dental care for kids or our sedation services. Call us at 772-283-1230 or schedule an appointment with our expert doctors using our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping your child with his or her oral health!