Nail biting, also called oncophagia, is a nervous habit often triggered by stress, excitement or boredom. Statistics show that almost half of all kids between the ages of 10 and 18 have been nail biters at one time or another. What’s alarming about this statistic is that nail biting occurs at a time where teeth development in children are happening at an alarming rate – primary teeth fall and permanent teeth come in. It’s a bad habit but fortunately, there are ways to stop biting your nails.
Why you should stop biting your nails
- It’s very unsanitary. Your hands are the most active parts of your body and are not clean enough to put into your mouth, most especially your fingernails! Your nails harbor bacteria and germs, and are almost twice as dirty as fingers. It’s like eating germs for snacks!
- It wears down your teeth. Nail biting gives your teeth something to do – and teeth are not meant to be chewing all the time. Gnawing your nails can put added stress on your teeth. When this happens to children, they may end up having crooked or jagged teeth and need orthodontic help.
- For children and adults who wear braces, it can delay your orthodontic treatment. Nail biting puts additional (wrong) pressure on teeth and weakens roots.
- It can be costly for you in the long run. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), nail biting can result in up to $4,000 in additional dental bills over one lifetime. Once your teeth become crooked, wear down and worse, become infected, your will realize that you should have just stopped biting your nails.
Some ways to stop biting your nails
Since nail biting is a habit, it can be unlearned. Think about the times when you get the urge to bite your nails. These would be your triggers. Whether you are nervous or just bored, understanding the triggers can help you find a solution and stop the habit.
You can also keep your nails trimmed short, coat your nails with nailpolish, attach fake fingernails or cover your fingers with bandage so you will have less reasons to bite them.
How Dr. Reese Can Help
If you can’t stop, behavioral therapy maybe needed. Ask Dr. Reese for a recommendation. If you are a new patient, the clinic will ask you to fill out a form where these types of habits are asked. This would allow Dr. Reese to not only give dental care in the form of treatment but also to educate and help you stop habits that are bad for your teeth. Customized care is a hallmark of everyone’s treatment at Indianapolis Dentistry. Drop us a call at 317-882-0228 or email us today!