Does Holiday Stress Have You Biting Your Nails?

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
December 14, 2017

Woman's nails with blue polish

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but it’s also the most stressful time of the year, isn’t it? For a lot of people, the holiday season is one that’s filled with busy days, family drama, and concerns about budgeting for gift shopping. So it’s no wonder that so many people start exhibiting some pretty bad habits, like nail-biting, as a result of all of the tension.

Are you the type of person who bites their nails when frazzled? Then you might find yourself chewing on your nails more often than usual as the holidays approach and the year draws to a close. But did you know that this habit could harm your teeth?

Wait, Why Is Nail Biting Bad for Teeth?

Biting your nails all the time doesn’t just wreck your nails; it could also do some damage to your pearly whites.

Here are a few of the effects that biting your nails could have on your teeth and gums:

  • You might cause your front teeth to become worn, or you might even chip or crack a tooth. And the added pressure on the teeth might also cause them to shift. Not good!
  • Biting your nails may boost your risk of bruxism (AKA teeth grinding), which could lead to a host of symptoms like headaches, facial pain, recessed gums, tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss.
  • Wear braces? Biting your nails may increase your risk of root resorption (that’s the shortening of your tooth roots). Now that’s scary!
  • Damage to the gums is also possible, especially if you have sharp or jagged fingernails. Ouch!
  • Your fingernails can harbor a lot of bacteria that could end up in your mouth when you bite your nails. Ew!

It’s Time to Break the Nail Biting Habit

Want to take control and stop biting your nails? Here are a few easy steps that you can take:

  • Keep your nails short by trimming them and filing them down. In this way, you won’t have anything to chew on when you go to bite your nails. So simple!
  • Pay for a manicure. This might deter you from biting your nails because you won’t want to ruin the way they look.
  • Make your nails taste bad by purchasing a nail polish designed to help you stop biting your nails. These polishes contain ingredients that will give your nails an offensive flavor so you’ll want to keep your fingers out of your mouth. Plus, these polishes come in clear, so if you aren’t a fan of using colors on your nails, you can still reap the benefits of using these products.
  • Have some chewing gum, as doing so might help you keep your nails out of your mouth. Bonus: chewing on gum could help stimulate the production of saliva to keep your teeth cleaner in between meals.
  • Behavioral therapy might also be an option, especially when other strategies have failed. Consider talking to your dentist about your nail-biting problem, as he or she might be able to refer you to a therapist who could help.

De-Stressing Is the Name of the Game

If you bite your nails when you’re stressed, you certainly aren’t alone. In addition to the steps above, finding ways to unwind could also be beneficial when it comes to getting rid of this unhealthy habit.

Consider taking some time to care for yourself every day. Examples of self-care include scheduling time to exercise or do yoga, meditating for a few minutes, or spending time alone. You could also consider strategies like treating yourself to a relaxing spa treatment on a regular basis or pursuing a hobby that takes your mind off of your troubles. And experts recommend getting enough sleep, eating right, and spending time with people who bring you joy. These small steps might help you overcome your stress and eliminate the need to bite your nails in an effort to cope.  

Ditch an Unhealthy Habit!

Bottom line: the holidays can be stressful, and the added stress might be what triggers your unhealthy nail-biting habit. But having an understanding of what causes you to bite your nails, and taking steps to stop yourself, will help you keep your teeth and gums healthy and your nails looking perfect.


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