Do you bite your nails when you’re stressed? Do you bite your nails for no apparent reason, you just do it, you’ve always done it, and you’re not sure why?
Go look in the mirror. Look at the edges of your front teeth. Are you back yet? Ok, great. Do you notice any small notches in your front teeth? This could be damage from biting your nails. If you have children that bite their nails, look at the edges of their front teeth. Do you see notches and chips? Believe it or not, fingernails are strong enough to cause this kind of damage!
When patients come to our practice for a comprehensive dental examination, we address patient’s dental needs, but we also look for things we can do to help patients that are actively causing damage and harm to their teeth. Nail biting is something I’m pointing out to a patient at least every other week, if not more often.
Sometimes, patients don’t realize that the nail biting is causing damage to teeth, and upon finding out they find the willpower to quit. Other patients have a more difficult time. I’m not a psychologist, but I have discovered a few ways that have worked for some of my patients to quit biting nails.
1) Treat yourself to a manicure more often. This works for women mostly, but I know there’s men out there that get manicures, no disrespect!
2) Purchase SEVERAL nail clippers and put them everywhere. The shower. Your desk. By the TV. In your car. Just don’t clip and drive! Think of places where you feel the urge to bite your nails and provide yourself with an alternative.
3) Tell your spouse or friends or anyone you are close to you are trying to quit and help you to be accountable. People that care about you can gently remind you of your goal and help you stay on track. I’ve also noticed that if you verbalize your goals, no matter what the goal is, to people around you, you feel accountable to those people and not just yourself, which is often a more powerful olbigation.
Believe it or not, I’ve had to turn down patients in my practice that wanted cosmetic dentistry treatment but could not stop biting their nails. Nail biters destroy dentistry. I don’t want to do any cosmetic dentistry on a patient that can not control their nail biting habit. The chances of long term success are low. On the other hand, I’ve had many patient overcome the habit and we’ve had excellent results with composite restorations or veneers.
Identifying nail biting is critical in my examination and diagnosis. Ability to control nail biting dictates treatment options. If you’ve damaged your teeth from nail biting, or you are concerned about your child’s nail biting habits and how it relates to the long term health of their teeth, come to my office in Northeast San Antonio. I’d be happy to provide a thorough examination and review your options.