To call nail biting a common habit would be something of an understatement. While the exact figures are fundamentally impossible to even estimate, it is known that more than half of all human beings are prone to biting their nails. While some occasionally nibble on one or two specific nails every now and again, others chomp down on all ten of their nails to the point where there’s pretty much nothing left. As for those who take things a step further and bite their toenails…well, we won’t be getting into how disgusting that particular habit is right now.
From the earliest age, those who bite their nails are usually instructed (rather firmly) by their parents to stop it. Nevertheless, chances are said parents do exactly the same thing themselves, and so too will the kids in question when they reach adulthood. The only problem being that when it comes to oral health and hygiene, biting nails is quite simply one of the worst things any of us can do.
It seems relatively harmless on the surface and doesn’t generally have any immediate effects. Which is precisely why we do it without worrying about it. We might avoid it where possible, but as it’s the kind of thing we often do instinctively during times of stress or anxiety, it’s quite hard to take control of the habit. Nevertheless, taking control is something you absolutely must do, if you’d like to keep your teeth and oral health in general above board.
So how is it that such a simple habit can be so incredibly detrimental to teeth and gums?
It Chips Your Teeth
Well, first of all it’s difficult to get across just how powerful the human jaw is. Nevertheless, given the fact that it’s so easy to bite through even the toughest of fingernails, this should give at least some idea of the kind of power we’re talking about. While the nail-chomping action may seem relatively minor and harmless, your teeth nonetheless come together with the kind of force that can easily lead to chipping, cracking or shattering. The simple fact of the matter is that each and every time you bite a nail, this could be the bite that breaks your tooth. And as you have absolutely no way of predicting when this is likely to happen, the only way to avoid it is to avoid biting your nails.
It Can Cause a Diastema
Just in case you wondered, this is the posh/scientific name for a gap between the two front teeth. Of course, some would argue that there are plenty of people who not only carry-off the diastema look quite well, but their overall look is actually benefited by it. Nevertheless, anything that causes gaps in the teeth that isn’t a 100% natural part of the natural development process of the mouth is something that should be avoided entirely. Biting teeth can result in the teeth moving in such a way that it may cause severe problems for the rest of your mouth in general.
It Weakens the Teeth
While exercising is great for strengthening the rest of the body, it isn’t the case at all when it comes to the teeth. Quite to the contrary in fact, as the more you put excessive pressure on your teeth by chomping down on things your teeth were not designed to cope with, all you can expect as a result is weakening of the bone and the root. Once again, this is the kind of thing that doesn’t give off any signs or symptoms in the immediate moment, but instead builds to the kind of catastrophic damage where it’s perfectly possible your teeth will fall out of your mouth completely. It’s worth remembering that there is quite a lot happening below the surface when you bite your nails – none of which bodes well for your overall health and hygiene!
It Can Cause Jaw Problems
The same also goes for your jaw in general. While the human jaw is incredibly strong and designed to cope with a lot of things, we simply are not designed to bite down on things as hard and resistant as fingernails. Each time you do, you put excessive pressure on the joints in your jaw, which over time can add up to permanent damage. From stiffness to pain to bone degradation and so much more besides, the more you use your teeth or anything that was not designed to cope with, the higher the likelihood you’ll develop the kinds of problems you’ll wish you had avoided.
It Can Cause Gingivitis
The sheer volume of germs and bacteria present under the average human fingernails is nothing short of impressive. Or to put it another way, terrifying. One of the most common causes of a wide variety of oral health problems – including tooth loss – is gingivitis. Aka, gum disease. And it’s known that the more germs and bacteria you introduce to your mouth, the higher the likelihood you will develop the kind of gum disease that could cause you all manner of problems. Even if your fingernails look relatively clean at the time, you really don’t want to know what kinds of nasties you are transferring directly into your mouth.
It Can Make You Ill
Last but not least, it’s also worth bearing in mind the way in which the more germs and bacteria you shove into your mouth, the more likely you are to become ill in general. From mouth ulcers to viruses to infections to food poisoning and so many other common conditions attributed to poor hygiene, there is really nothing about nail biting that can be considered healthy or hygienic. It may be a difficult habit to break that requires quite a lot of willpower, but it is nonetheless a small price to pay to take better care of your overall health and wellbeing.