Sharks have around 3,000 teeth, depending on size, and are constantly re-growing them. Humans on the other hand, generally have 32, which do not grow back after losing your baby teeth. Because of this we need to take care of them much more than sharks do. That is why we brush 2×2; two times a day for two minutes each as well as going to the dentist twice a year.
Since we all take such great care of our teeth, why would we do anything to potentially harm them? Nail biting is something that half of humans do at some point in their life. There’s no one cause for nail biting, but factors such as stress and genes can have an impact. Regardless of the cause, biting your nails can have a number of negative impacts on your teeth and health which is reason enough to stop biting your nails.
As humans, our teeth are designed to be used at multiple times throughout the day to start the first stage of digestion. That means that we don’t eat constantly and don’t use our teeth for other activities such as cutting down trees such as the beaver. When we bite our nails, this creates continuous stress on our teeth. This can cause enamel wear and breakdown, which is a protective outer layer of the teeth themselves. It’s also the hardest tissue in your body and is designed to help protect your teeth.
Even though it is so robust, it will not grow back so you must take care of it. Not having enough enamel can cause tooth erosion. Continuous wear on your teeth can also cause them to come out of alignment. Your teeth are not permanent structures, such as other bones in your body such as your femur. They can move over time, especially with corrective forces such as braces or negative forces such as nail biting.
Chip a Tooth
Your fingernails are hard substances. Chewing on them, as stated above, will create wear on your teeth. But what is harder than your finger nail? Your teeth. Biting through a fingernail can cause you to smack your upper teeth into your lower with a high impact. This resulting force can cause your teeth to not only chip off the enamel but also the tooth structure itself requiring extensive dental work. You definitely don’t want a chipped tooth and if it comes from an NHL hockey puck, then it has some charm, but when it’s from your upper tooth, not so much.
Excessive use of your teeth in nail biting can cause undue stress on your jaw. Your jaw is just like any other joint in the body and putting excessive strain on it day in and day out can cause issues such as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ. This can not only cause pain in your jaw, but also headaches, muscle pain around the jaw and even into the neck, joint sounds, and locking of the jaw; none of which you want to experience.
Damage to those with Braces
Braces cost a lot of money and you or your child would never want to do anything to potentially negate all that time and money invested. Biting of the nails can cause the teeth to come misaligned by putting opposing stress on the teeth from the direction the braces are trying to bring them. This can lead to the braces needing to be left on for a longer period of time. Also, a potentially larger issue is that biting nails with braces can cause root resorption. This is where the bone around the roots starts to dissolve the root itself, resulting in the tooth becoming weaker; something you don’t want to have in the short or long term. Remember, you don’t have teeth that will grow back like sharks do.
Not directly related to your teeth, but potentially an even bigger issue of biting your nails is the sanitary concerns it brings. Your mouth is the best place bacteria and viruses can enter the body. Your hands are what touches everything around you which, depending upon your environment can be more germ invested than you think. Even if you wash your hands a lot you are still very likely to have these germs come into contact with your mouth and thus the rest of your body. Eliminating nail biting from your habits will dramatically help your overall health, giving you a much less likelihood of getting sick.
We all have bad habits; even sharks. We don’t want those habits though to affect us or our children negatively. Stopping a simple bad habit can not only help in our day to day lives, but can also prevent spending extra money on dental work. People who bite their nails can spend $4,000 extra over their lifetime because of this one seemingly benign habit. Everything has impacts so control the ones we can. It will help you now and in the future.
If you have been a chronic nail biter, please call us to prevent any future dental problems. Your teeth are important to you; take care of them.