Nail Biting: A Habit Worse for Teeth Than for Nails


We rely on our teeth to help us speak, chew, and to spread a smile. But, what our teeth shouldn’t be used for is biting nails. Nail biting is a common habit for many, and it’s approximated that half of all humans bite their nails. There are several beliefs as to why people bite their nails, but many come to the conclusion that the bad habit is stress related or is a behavior that’s learned during childhood.

For some, it can be hard not to resort to nail biting. However, it is important to understand that your dental health is at a much greater risk than just your manicure.

Here is a list of some of the many negative effects that nail biting can have on your oral health:

Biting your nails can lead to chipped or cracked teeth. Chewing on tough and sharp fingernails can have a heavy impact on your teeth. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, nail biting can crack, chip, or wear down front teeth as a result of the pressure applied from continuously biting.

Nail biting can create a gap between your two front teeth (known as diastama). Nail biting from a very early age is believed to cause a gap between two teeth.

Nail biting can weaken the roots of your teeth. Individuals with braces are particularly at risk for root resorption, or shortening of the roots, which can weaken the roots of teeth and can lead to tooth loss.

Nail biting is germy! Fingernails can be full of germs and bacteria, especially since they are hard to reach and clean. They're almost twice as germy as hands! This makes nail biters at an increased risk for transferring germs and bacteria into the body. Biting your nails is an easy way to transfer a virus, cold, or other illness. It can also cause paronychia, which is a skin infection that surrounds the nail.

Biting your nails can cause TMJ Disorder. Nail biting can be damaging to your jaw. The constant biting can cause TMJ Disorder, which can also cause pain, headaches, and jaw alignment issues.

Nail biting can damage gums.

Jagged and sharp fingernails can damage gums tissue and cause gingivitis. When the gum tissue becomes torn, bacteria from fingernails can spread into the bloodstream and throughout the body.

Biting your fingernails can cause you to spend a lot of money. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, individuals who bite their nails spend approximately $4,000 more on dental expenses in their lifetime than those who don't bite their nails.


Teeth should also not be used as tools, such as to open a bottle or chew on a pencil. These poor habits can put you at greater risk for bruxism (teeth-grinding), which can cause tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, recessed gums, and many more oral problems.

Wearing a mouth guard may be a great way to avoid nail biting and thus help prevent further damage to your teeth. Also, try keeping your nails trimmed short to prevent the urge to bite them.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. VanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.


2 Responses to Nail Biting: A Habit Worse for Teeth Than for Nails

Drs. Ali & Ali says:

Thank you!

Paige says:

I don't think most people understand how much nail biting can harm your teeth. We all know it's bad for your nails and it's germy, but I bet most people have never thought of the damage it could do to their teeth. This gives people more reason to break the bad habit. Thank you for this insightful post.

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