Why biting your nails is bad for your teeth

by: Sandy Johnson, RDH, BA

With all the threats to your oral health out there, it’s enough stress to make you bite your nails. But of the many nervous habits, biting your nails is one of the worst for your oral health! Next time you find yourself tempted to use your teeth as clippers, consider the following:

1. Nail biting can wear down your teeth over time, causing enamel wear and uneven biting surfaces. Your teeth need a break between meals, but chewing your nails means they are essentially being used all day. This puts stress on your front teeth, which can cause them to become misaligned.

2. Nail biting is bad for your jaw. It can contribute to Temporomandibular (TM) disorder, which causes jaw pain, headaches, and locking and popping of the jaw. Additionally, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), people who bite their nails are at greater risk for bruxism, the unintentional grinding or clenching of the teeth, which brings its own negative effects.

3. Beyond the effects on your teeth and jaw, there are also sanitary concerns. Even if you’re a compulsive hand-washer, your hands are still one of the most germ-laden areas of your body, and your nails are doubly so. When you bite your nails, you are exposing yourself to illness causing germs that transfer from your hands to your mouth.

4. Need one more reason to stop biting your nails? Money. According to the AGD, people who bite their nails pay an average of $4,000 in additional dental bills over their lifetime.

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