nail biting

Nail Biting And How It Affects Your Teeth

September 27, 2022

Fingernail biting is one of the most common habitual bad habits and is challenging for people of all ages to stop. While biting your fingernails may seem like a harmless habit, it can quickly lead to damaging your teeth without you even realizing it.

There are various reasons why people begin and continue biting their fingernails, sometimes without even realizing they are doing it.

We will discuss why some people bite their fingernails, how it affects your teeth, and ways to help break the habit of biting your fingernails.

Why Some People Bite Their Fingernails

Most people begin biting their fingers due to nervousness, anxiety, stress, boredom, or even perfectionism. Fingernail biting is one of several various body-focused repetitive disorders, which also includes things like skin picking or hair plucking. Some people even find fingernail biting comforting, and it is often done absentmindedly out of boredom, making it even more challenging to stop.

Most people who compulsively bite their fingernails know that it is a bad habit and causes damage to the fingers, such as skin infections, ingrown nails, and a higher chance of contracting viruses. However, the most significant damage happens to your teeth.

How Nail Biting Can Affect Your Teeth And Gums

Even though your teeth are harder than your nails, nail biting can significantly impact the health of your teeth and gums in various ways.


Your fingernails have dirt and germs that can transfer into your mouth when you bite your nails, leading to gum disease, which affects your long-term oral and physical health. Fingernail biting is the leading cause of gingivitis.

Bruxism or Teeth Grinding

The nail-biting habit can increase the chances of the person developing a chronic teeth-grinding habit. People who grind their teeth often develop other oral health problems, jaw soreness, and headaches.

Chipping, Cracking, and Wearing Down Your Teeth

Consistent grinding on the front teeth can cause the teeth to shift into abnormal positions, and as your teeth become worn down, they are more likely to develop a chip and cracked tooth.

Gaps and Malocclusions

Grinding your front teeth down to bite through fingernails can gradually cause your teeth to shift over time, creating a gap or malocclusion between your front teeth and leading to alignment issues.

Root Resorption

When you bite your fingernails, the no pressure that chewing your fingernails places on your teeth causes the jawbone to re-absorb the roots of those teeth.

Additional Consequences

When left untreated, teeth grinding may have other severe consequences that include:

  • The tooth enamel rubs off and causes an increase in sensitivity
  • The teeth to become worn down and expose the dentin
  • Experiencing jaw pain and popping jaw
  • Experiencing chronic headaches

Reasons To Stop Biting Your Fingernails

There are various reasons to stop biting your fingernails which include the following:

  • It can cause your nails to grow irregularly and damage the tissue around your nails, leading to abnormal-looking nails because they do not develop the way they should
  • It can negatively impact your smile if your teeth should chip, crack, or break when you bite your nails. Nail biting also causes jaw problems over time
  • It can make you sick because your nails and hands are generally covered in germs. If you put your fingers in your mouth multiple times a day, your chances of contracting a virus increase. Also, the damage done to your skin when you bite your nails creates a germ-friendly environment and makes it easier for them to get into your body

Breaking The Habit Of Biting Your Fingernails

The most significant step to stop biting your fingernails is consciously committing to quitting. There are several different strategies that many nail biters successfully to help overcome the urge to bite their nails.

  • Using bitter-tasting clear nail polish to help make the taste unappealing
  • Keeping their fingernails trimmed short
  • Identifying common triggers that cause you to want to bite your nails
  • Wearing gloves on your hands when you are sitting idle or during times when you notice you tend to chew your bite your fingernails often
  • Ask others to help remind you when they see you biting your nails
  • Replacing nervous nail-biting with a stress ball, clay, or another stress-relieving activity
  • Consult a therapist for support and additional tools to help you deal with your anxiety, emotions, and stress

Consult your dentist to help ensure your teeth stay healthy, clean, and strong.

For Expert Preventative And Restorative Dental Treatment, Consult Carrie Muzny DDS

At Carrie Muzny DDS, we are here to help you keep your smile sparkling and all of your teeth in optimal health. We offer high-quality dental services and care in The Woodlands and surrounding areas. Our highly trained dentists and state-of-the-art technology will ensure that you and your family maintain excellent oral health and a fantastic smile. Contact us today for a consultation if you need restorative or cosmetic procedures, preventative dentistry, or a surgical procedure.

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