DENTAL DILEMMAS – Dr Karim Rachidi from Synergy Dental Clinics helps with advice on dental problems

Q. My son has a really bad nail biting habit. Can it damage your teeth?

A. In a nutshell, yes. People who have the habit of nail biting are more likely have chipped or broken teeth. It also increases their likelihood of damaging the gums and wearing down their teeth. Furthermore, it can also increase the chances of having bruxism. This is the medical term for unintentional tooth grinding or clenching of the jaw.

Nail biting is a habit and like any habit, it can be hard to get rid of. Sometimes people nail bite because they feel nervous or stressed, or even just do it subconsciously and aren’t aware. The first step to getting over the habit is identifying the triggers that lead to you or your children putting their fingers in their mouth.

Then, it’s time to try and put an end to it, once and for all. You can try a few different methods, too. There are clear nail polishes available that are specifically designed to help people lose the habit of nail biting. It has a bitter taste to it which helps you associate nail biting with an unfriendly taste.

If stress is what leads to nail biting then it may help to find an alternative method of stress relief, which helps to distract. Additionally, deep breathing exercises can also help you relax without feeling like biting on your nails.

It’s also important to ensure that nails are trimmed regularly because the longer the nails, the higher the temptation is to bite nails.

Most of all, it’s crucial to stay consistent because it will take time for the habit to be completely forgotten. If you find that you’re struggling then be sure to check in with your dentist and get their advice.