Nail Biting- A Worrisome Habit
Nail biting, or onchyophagia, is one of the hardest habits for people to break since they often do it without even noticing. While it can be unsightly, it can also be a major dental hazard. Teeth can become cracked, chipped, or worn from the stress caused by biting, and from crashing together during biting. Braces wearers are also in danger of root resorption- or shortening- since braces already put increased pressure upon teeth. The pressure added from biting nails, chewing pencils, or clenching teeth can also cause headaches, facial pain, sensitivity, recessed gums, and more problems.
I’m a nail biter. How can I stop?
There are so many options to choose from, that it’s not a “One Fits All” type of thing. Here are some tips; try them out and see which one works best for you.
- Keep your nails manicured and filed. This can help to encourage you to keep your nails attractive, and deter biting. Artificial nails can also help.
- If you bite your nails due to stress or anxiety, try to use stress-management techniques: stress balls, coloring, doodling, etc.
- Try a bitter-tasting polish such as CONTROL-IT or Thum that helps to remind you when you’re biting thanks to the bitter taste.
- Wear a mouth guard.
- Wear an elastic band around your wrist. When you notice yourself starting to bite, pop it once or twice. Eventually, this will condition your mind away from the urge to bite.
- Enlist help of friends, family members, coworkers, anyone. Tell them you want to quit, and ask them to remind you when you start to bite.
Nail biting is a hard habit to break, but it IS possible! If you need help with quitting, please feel free to talk to us at your next appointment!