Nail biting is scientifically known as onychophagia. It is a habit that comes out as a way of coping with stress and anxiety. People who bite their nails are more likely to have these issues. It is a bad habit as it is, it can cause other health issues as well. It is a hard habit to break out of unless the person is ready to put in some great and conscious efforts. Here are a few gross and disgusting things about what happens when you bite the nails.
Bad breath – Stop Biting Your Nails Your Breath May Be Suffering
Did you know that nail biting is one of the major causes of bad breath? Yes, it is. Nail biting brings the bacteria from the fingertips and from under the nails into the oral cavity. Not only will you get more bacteria in the mouth, it is supplied constantly that causes bad breath sooner. It also exerts pressure on the teeth and gums. The broken nail pieces could injure the gums. This may lead to inflammations on the gums. One of the side effects of gum infections and inflammations is bad breath.
Nail Biting & Breeding The Bacteria
When you bite the nail, you are actually making a breeding space for the bacteria inside the mouth. The nail bed and fingertips may have several bacteria, some even fall under the harmful category. These bacteria would get transferred into the mouth and they can easily breed there. The sucking and chewing you do is feeding the bacteria. Few of the dangerous bacteria that are found in the nail bed are E.coli, Staphylococcus, Salmonella etc. People who bite their nails are found to have more of these bacteria in their mouth than those who do not have this habit.
Infections Of Fingers & Nails
It is easier to transfer any disease or infection causing microbe into the mouth by nail-biting. You are also transferring the bacteria from the mouth to the fingertips. Both these cases can cause infections inside the mouth or on the nails. The nail bacterial infection is one such case. Biting shortens the nails and you are exposing the delicate nail bed for the bacteria to grow in. Nail biting can cause oral STIs such as Herpes as well.
Deformed Nail & Fingers
Biting the nails constantly shortens it to the extreme. This causes slower nail growth. The result is you have short nails. The constant chewing is exposing the finger skin to the saliva. Saliva is a digestive agent that can damage the skin with constant exposure. The skin on the fingertips and the nail bed get damaged to form the ugly looking nails.
It would also lead to ingrown nails that are not only bad looking but can also cause infections or inflammations.
One of the damaging side effects of nail biting is deformed teeth. The pressure from the biting is enough to alter the teeth alignment. Prolonged nail biting can lead to crooked teeth. It can affect their roots and loosen their hold. The worst is loosened the tooth. The loosened tooth can also lead to gum infections and diseases. Nail biting can chip the teeth or even lead to teeth fractures. The damage is more when you have braces and you are biting the nails.
Apart from the dental damage, it can also cause fracture or injury to the jaw area. It makes food consumption difficult, opening or closing of the mouth becoming painful etc.
Infection inside the mouth, digestive system or in any part of the body is the next menace. With too much of bacteria in the mouth, the chances are more for them to get inside the system. The bacteria like E.coli and Staphylococcus etc are disease-causing microbes. It may cause the common cold to serious viral diseases as well.
Warts are another such infectious disease. It is easily transferred by touch. If you happen to have this infection on the finger, it can easily spread to the face or mouth when you bite the nails. Since nail biting is an unconscious habit, the chances are higher for the contamination.
Ways to break the habit of nail biting
Here are some tips that can help you or your loved ones to overcome this bad habit.
- Keeping the hands busy is the best way to make it ‘unavailable’ for biting. Staying alert and knowing when you are going to bite has a major impact. Whenever you feel like you might bite the nails, find something else to get engaged with.
- Squeeze balls, knitting, crocheting, video games, folding the clothes etc are engaging tasks for the hands. Choose the ideal one that suits you better.
- There are bitter tasting nail polishes available in the drug stores. Get them and apply it on the nails. The bitter taste will prevent you from biting the nails.
- Spend some money on a regular manicure. You are less likely to bite on the beautiful looking nails. It would also remind you how much you have paid for those beautiful nails.
- Find some ways to de-stress the mind.