Onychophagia and its effects on teeth

Onychophagia and its effects on teeth

Onychophagia is the act of biting one’s nails, a very common bad habit among young people. Studies show that 26% to 33% of children aged 7 to 10 and 45% of teenagers bite their nails. This behavior is often unconscious, and caused by stress, anxiety and loneliness.

What impact does nail biting have on teeth? You might think that teeth are stronger than fingernails, but over time, the habit of nail biting can damage tooth surfaces and gums. In fact, teeth rubbing against nails can gradually wear away enamel, leading to cracked or fractured teeth. Regular nail biting can also cause teeth to shift in the mouth, leading to bite problems. Onychophagia affects the jawbone too: the force applied to teeth by nail biting can lead to root resorption, weakening them and putting teeth at greater risk of falling out. Furthermore, bacteria and viruses are trapped under our nails, and when we bite them, they are transferred to our mouths, which can lead to gum disease or mouth ulcers. These bacteria can also increase the risk of viral or bacterial infections, leading to herpes and warts on fingers and lips. Nail biting also affects the temporomandibular joint, as this behavior requires effort from these muscles, leading to muscle pain and tension, as well as difficulty in chewing or closing and opening the mouth.

To stop this habit, it’s important to identify the triggers. If it’s caused by stress, try to solve the problem at the source. There are solutions such as bitter varnish or wearing barriers that block contact between mouth and nails, like gloves and mittens. However, if you can’t get rid of your onychophagia, it’s best to talk to your doctor or even consult a psychologist to find out what’s behind the habit.

Question or comment

Your email address and your phone will not be published. Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).