In times of stress, we do many things to ease our discomfort. If we have healthy outlets, we might meditate or take a walk. But, for many of us, we may resort to other habits that aren’t as healthy. For example, many people bite their nails due to stress or nerves. Unfortunately, this habit can have more significant issues than chipped nail polish. This seemingly harmless habit can cause many dental problems.
The Nail-Biting Habit
Nail-biting is a habit that comes with consequences. Typically, it is a habit that some develop in response to stress or anxiety. Others may bite their fingernails out of boredom. It might even be a subconscious behavior, meaning that you don’t realize why you bite your nails. Naturally, biting your nails can lead to damage or even infections of the nails and surrounding skin.
Yet, this habit can do more than just hurt your nails and skin. Your teeth and gums can become victims of this habit.
Dental Problems Caused by Nail Biting
One of the common issues you may have with nail biting is tooth fractures. Biting your nails exerts unnecessary pressure on your teeth. As a result, this can increase your risk of fractures, chips, or cracks.
Furthermore, the constant pressure can affect the alignment of your teeth. This means that biting your nails can create movement of your teeth. This will affect your bite and smile. In addition, excessive nail biting can strain your jaw muscles. This may lead to jaw discomfort, pain, or TMJ.
Another area that may receive damage is your gums. Biting your nails can irritate the soft tissues of your gums. This may lead to soreness and swelling. Over time, this can even lead to gum recession.
Biting your nails can do more than just physical damage. You can also compromise your oral health. Nail biting introduces bacteria from your fingers into your mouth. This is because germs and bacteria live on nearly every surface you touch. You may increase your risk of illness.
Additionally, biting your nails can lead to infections in your mouth, nails, and fingers.
Potential for Nerve Damage
Along with infections, you can damage your nailbed. The nailbed is the layer of skin underneath your fingernails. Biting your nails can lead to injury to this sensitive area and the surrounding tissues. As a result, you can potentially cause nerve damage.
Furthermore, you may create permanent damage that results in chronic pain. This pain can reside in your fingertips or surrounding areas.
Self-Inflicted Gum Trauma
When you bite your nails, it can create accidental scratching or poking of your gums. This can damage the sensitive tissues of your gum, causing trauma or bleeding. Unfortunately, repeated trauma can lead to gum recession. This occurs when the gum tissue begins to pull away from the teeth. Gum recession exposes tooth roots and increases sensitivity.