5 Ways Nail Biting Can Harm Your Child's Oral Health

Posted on: 24 April 2023

Nail biting is a relatively common habit among young children, and it often seems like nothing to worry about. However, it's also a habit that can harm your child's oral health in both long-term and short-term ways. As such, it's worth trying to prevent the issue, especially if your child keeps biting their nails as they age. You can also see your dentist for advice on how to treat or manage the situation.

Here are just five ways nail biting can harm your child's oral health.

1. Chips and Cracks

Teeth are extremely strong, but they can still be damaged when subjected to frequent stress. When your child bites their nails, they often apply a lot of pressure. This can place teeth under added strain, and the force with which teeth often come together can increase that strain further. This means a child who bites their nails is at increased risk of chipping or cracking one of their teeth.

2. Enamel Erosion

Even if your child's nail-biting habit doesn't result in any visible damage, they could still be wearing down tooth enamel. This is a serious issue since enamel is so important for protecting against decay and preventing uncomfortable levels of sensitivity, and it cannot be grown back once it has been worn away. While this might seem like less of a concern when children still have their baby teeth, it's still worth avoiding the fillings or extractions that can result from worn enamel.

3. Misalignment

Nail biting puts pressure on the jawbone as well as the teeth, and it can also cause teeth to shift out of position. Misaligned teeth can be harder to clean and result in a poor bite, and these problems will often reoccur with adult teeth since they need to be guided into place by baby teeth. If your child bites their nails now, they may require orthodontic treatment later.

4. Infections

Young children don't tend to be too fastidious about their personal cleanliness, so dirt, debris and bacteria can build up beneath their fingernails. When they then bite their nails, those contaminants will be introduced to the mouth and increase their risk of developing infections or even gum disease.

5. Bruxism

Bruxism is the proper term for tooth grinding, and it's a condition that can result in everything from headaches to broken teeth. While nail biting does not automatically lead to bruxism, the two issues are related since children who bite their nails often get used to the pressure and start to grind their teeth. By stopping them from biting their nails, you'll also reduce their risk of developing bruxism.

Contact a children's dentist for more information.