Everyone knows that biting your nails is a bad habit to have, particularly because of the problems it can create for your teeth. However, it might surprise you to learn just how many problems you can experience simply by biting your nails on a regular basis; serious damage, misalignment, and even disease or tooth loss can occur. If you haven't been convinced to give up the habit yet, keep reading to discover what you're doing to your teeth every time you bite your nails.
Damage to the Edges
One of the first things to be damaged on your teeth is the edges -- that is, the biting surface that you're using to bite your nails.
Most people use the same teeth to bite their nails each time. Maybe you use your front teeth or your incisors, but regardless, those teeth will be damaged. Every bite you take applies stress and pressure to the edges of your teeth, gradually wearing them down over time. In extreme circumstances, chipping or breaking can occur.
Teeth are designed to share the load, not to experience extreme pressure on just one or two teeth at a time. Unfortunately, that's what you do when you bite your nails. Over time, this pressure can gradually start to shift a tooth out of alignment.
When your dentist adjusts your braces, they follow a careful plan to give you the smile you want by adjusting the wires just so. When you bite your nails, however, the pressure can go in any direction. You can have a tooth move left, right, forward, or backward. As one tooth shifts, others will have to as well to make room for it. Even a corrected smile can become crooked and unsightly with a bad nail biting habit.
Lastly, every time you bite your nails you introduce whatever bacteria or viruses are lurking beneath your nails into your mouth. This can cause a lot of problems for your health, and not just the teeth and gums.
Bacteria and viruses can potentially cause problems for your body like food poisoning. Salmonella, e coli, or even small amounts of fecal matter may be stuck under your nails. Consuming these substances is extremely dangerous for your body and can make you feel very sick.
Even if you don't get something that can make your stomach ill, your teeth and gums will still suffer. Bacteria introduced by your fingers can potentially cause gum infections or speed up the process of tooth decay. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, so this isn't something you should take lightly if you value having teeth.
Biting your nails isn't worth losing your teeth over. If you're having difficulty breaking the habit, consult with your dentist to find out what helps to get their patients past it. Even if you can't stop biting your nails, make sure to visit your dentist on a regular basis. Doing so can help to protect your teeth and gums from the damage you're doing and help to prevent the more severe consequences from happening to you.