Nail biting, also known as onchophagia is one of the ” Nervous habits” that can be triggered by stress, excitement or boredom. Approximately half of all kids between the ages of 10 – 18 have been nail biters at one time or another. Experts say that about 30% of children and 15% of adults are nail biters. Most people stop chewing their nails by the time they turn 30.
Here are 4 Dental and General Reasons to Stop Biting Your Nails
It is unsanitary! Your nails harbor bacteria and germs. They are almost twice as dirty as fingers! And did you know? If you swallow dirty nails, it can lead to stomach problems.
It wears down your teeth. Chewing your nails can put added stress on your pearly whites! If you have a habit of always chewing the same direction, you can cause teeth to chip or crack. And with kids growing and changing, if the fingers are in the mouth, teeth can shift. This could result in expensive dental work!
It can delay your orthodontic treatment! For those of our patients wearing braces, nail biting puts additional stress on teeth and roots that are moving. This can counteract the movement the orthodontist is trying to achieve.
It can Cost you, Literally! It has been estimated that up to $4,000 in extra dental bills can build up over a lifetime of nail biting.
Dr. Jeff and Dr. Trent recommend the following tips to help kick the habit.
- Keep your nails trimmed short: you will have less nail to bite.
- Coat your nails with a bitter tasting nail polish – this is clear so it can be used on anyone.
- Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it / play with it instead of gnawing away!
- Think about when and why you chew your nails. Whether you are nervous or bored, it is good to understand the triggers. This will help in finding a solution to stop the habit.
- If you just can’t stop, discuss with your Medical Doctor for a behavioral therapy location.