For some people, nail biting is a comforting – if undesirable – response to stress. But for the teeth, nail biting is anything but comforting, leading to a wide range of dental health problems that could severely damage your smile. At Smilehaven Dental Center, we strive to be a comprehensive resource for patients at our La Mesa holistic dental practice, and if you’re wondering about the health dangers of nail biting, we’re here to help.
Nail Biting & Teeth
The problem with nail biting is that at a fundamental level, the teeth aren’t designed to bite on or chew anything besides food. So when they come into contact with the hard keratin that makes up nails, it can cause tooth erosion, which means the wearing down of the hard layer of enamel on the outside of the tooth. Over time, the weakening and wearing down of the enamel can cause a variety of other problems, including:
- Dental Decay: Enamel is what protects the teeth from bacteria, and if it’s compromised, the teeth are at a higher risk of dental decay and cavities.
- Sensitive Teeth: Enamel erosion can expose dentin, the material underneath enamel, to the air. This makes teeth sensitive to temperature, causing everything from eating hot food to breathing cold air to be painful.
- Infection: Nails, especially the undersides, are breeding grounds for bacteria. Biting your nails exposes your mouth to these bacteria, which can increase the likelihood of both general sickness and infections like gingivitis.
- Broken Teeth: Finally, biting the nails can even cause teeth to break. Especially with weakened enamel, biting down on a nail can cause a chip, crack, or fracture in the tooth.
Contact Your La Mesa, CA Family Dentist
Biting your nails may be a common nervous habit, but it can have serious consequences for dental health. Contact us today to learn more about the dangers of nail biting, the treatments available, or to schedule a consultation. We can’t wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping you quit nail biting and achieve a better smile!