While the holidays are supposed to be the “most wonderful time of year, the truth is that many of us face stress or anxiety thanks to complex family dynamics, increased expenses and major planning demands.
Some studies have shown that those who feel extra anxious this time of year hike up to 69% of the population. This increase can lead to coping using unhealthy habits, too, including everything from extra alcohol consumption to more benign outlets such as nail biting.
Overall, 20-30% of the adult population self-identifies as nail biters. Interestingly, that number only increases in younger—particularly the teenage—population. While you might hate the way it causes your nails to look, we at Josey Lane Dentistry are also concerned about the damage it can do to your teeth!
If you are already feeling overwhelmed this holiday season, don’t resort to biting your nails. Below are the concerns and questions we regularly address at our Carrollton office when patients tell us about their nail biting habit.
Does nail biting really harm your teeth?
The General Academy of Dentistry has pointed out that nail biting can actually crack, chip or wear down front teeth from the regular stress caused by biting.
In addition, it can have a detrimental effect on your enamel and cause premature wearing.
The pressure on the teeth caused by chewing nails can also lead teeth to shift out of alignment. Not only can this effect spacing, it can lead to painful disorders like TMJ (which occurs when the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jawbone to the skull, becomes damaged). This is can lead to pain in your ear or jaw, difficult chewing, popping or clicking sounds when moving your jaw, and difficulty simply opening or closing your mouth.
How to quit biting your nails
Nail biting and how to quit has been a popular topic of study. While it was originally believed to be a self-harming behavior, most researchers now believe it’s more closely aligned with obsessive compulsive behaviors. Due to this, we understand that ending this habit can be more complicated than just making the decision to quit!
As you look to setting resolutions for the new year, looking holistically at your mental health for 2020 is a great endeavor. If nail biting is the result of underlying mental health issues, the new year can be the perfect time to look into behavioral therapy to help get to the root of issues causing nail biting and other shows of stress.
Just like with other habits, stopping nail biting cold turkey can be difficult. To make nail biting less desirable, cut your nails short and coat them with a special nail polish that tastes bitter. Wearing gloves or treating yourself to a fancy manicure are both other appropriate deterrents to help keep your nails out of your mouth.
If you are noticing any oral health damage from this or another tricky habit, give our Carrollton, TX office a call so we can examine and mitigate any damage that has already occurred. We want to ensure you are addressing both the root causes as well as the consequences, because we’re in it for your long-term health!
Questions? Start the conversation with us today!