Nail-biting is one of the most prevalent children’s habits. Almost a third of children and a half of teenagers are nail biters. Most of the kids tend to bite their nails to relieve anxiety, tension, or boredom.
Studies by modern dental treatment in Arizona establish that, while nail-biting seems a harmless habit, it comes with severe dental effects. It can cause infection to the body and nails.
Putting the fingernails on the mouth transfers bacteria, fungus, and other germs to the body. As such, the child becomes susceptible to infections like cold flu and gastrointestinal infections.
Nail Biting Effects on the Teeth
Nail-biting affects the teeth in ways such as;
· Cracking and wearing down
Nails can seem soft when you bite them. However, they are made from the hardened versions of keratin that makes them hard in nature. Chewing the nails forces the teeth to break down the hard surface regularly. The more you bite the nails, the faster the teeth wear and can lead to cracking. The teeth might end up breaking or even falling out.
· Gum disease and infection
Nail-biting and infection are inseparable. Biting the teeth allows the transmission of bacteria and germs from the fingers to the mouth and gut. Given that children touch various contaminated surfaces when playing, the chances of infections are higher. The bacteria can lead to gum disease and cause conditions like gingivitis.
Pediatric dentists tend to find fingernails stuck under a kid’s gums. The debris can create irritation and infections.
· Poor dental occlusion
Biting teeth constantly puts pressure on the jawbones, leading to the teeth shifting out of position. As the children are still developing, they are susceptible to tooth shifts. These effects are costly to correct as you need retainers or braces.
· Breaking braces
Nail-biting comes with various concerns for kids who wear braces. When biting the nail, the pressure on the teeth can damage the wires and other appliances on the teeth. This leads to resorption leading to the body cells depletion, thus messing up the tooth structure.
· Bad breath
Germs and bacteria in the mouth cause bad breath. With all the bacteria that pass during the nail-biting, your child will likely have bad breath if they bite nails.
Tips to Break the Nail Biting Habit
Given the several effects of nail-biting on the kids, you must stop the habit in time. Some of the ways to stop chronic nail-biting are;
· Understand the triggers
Most cases of nail-biting do not happen automatically in kids. It’s triggered through the various surrounding factors like boredom and anxiety. Helping your child avoid these triggers by eliminating their causes can help reduce nail-biting.
· Keep nails short
Your child is likely to bite their nails when they are longer. However, when the nails are kept short, the kid would have nothing to bite on. Clip the nails regularly and keep them short at all times.
The short nails also help kids embrace proper hygiene.
· Find Options
Most kids only bite nails as a coping mechanism for stress or boredom. Find alternatives like stress balls and fidget spinners to avoid resorting to nail-biting.
· Take it in steps
Training your child to stop nail biting is an uphill task. Kids tend to forget and will resort to nail-biting even after cautioning them. Let them know why nail biting is harmful, then provide ways to mitigate it. You can also consult a pediatric dentist to help you manage nail-biting in your kids.
Nail-biting is a harmful habit to kids. It can lead to gum infections, cracked teeth, among other concerns. Use the above tips to protect your child from the harmful effects of nail-biting.