Up to 45 percent of teenagers bite their nails – it is a common habit, and a disgusting one. Studies have proven that biting your nails is unhygienic and dangerous to your health.
The Hazardous Effects of Biting Your Nails:
Many people have said that chewing your nails is the same as licking a toilet seat, and they’re not wrong. The fingernails are a breeding ground for bacteria, which get caught under the nails on a daily basis, and ingesting them will make you ill. Staphylococcus aureus is one of the bacteria found under the nails and it causes cysts and abscesses in the mouth. E coli, and other diarrhoea and vomiting inducing bacteria, is transferred into the body through the fingernails – which was proved by Turkish scientists in 2007 whose study showed that 66 percent of the nail-biting test subjects tested positive for diarrhoea and vomiting causing bacteria while only 26.5 percent of non-biters tested positive.
Chewing on fingernails damages the teeth and causes fractures and can cause tooth loss in extreme cases. You’re also more likely to grind your teeth if you are a nail-biter. The constant chipping away of the teeth and grinding will result in weak teeth and irreparable damage. Nail biting is also known to affect the way the jaw sits when closed and can shift the teeth out of their proper position.
Sliding the nails between the teeth results in repetitive gum irritation which leads to swollen gums. Pieces of the nails are known for getting stuck in the gum which allows for the bacteria from the fingernails to enter the gum line and cause an infection, which could lead to harmful gum disease such as gingivitis.
Bacteria is the cause of bad breath and the added bacteria from the nails only amplifies foul smelling breath.
Damage to the Nail
Nail biting causes damage to the nail bed which can result in the nails’ inability to continue growing. The cuts and sores left behind from nail biting allows for bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, to get into the nail bed and results in pus under the skin surrounding the nails.
Ways to Kick the Habit:
Be Mindful of the Triggers
Nail biting is often triggered by stress, boredom, or anxiety. It is important to become aware of the triggers and physically stop yourself from biting your nails.
Keep Your Hands Busy
Pick up another habit or hobby which requires you to use your hands, like knitting. This is a great way to keep your fingers doing something productive, which keeps them out of your mouth.
Keeping healthy snacks, like carrot sticks or cucumber, on hand for when you are triggered to bite your nails will replace the comforting hand-to-mouth habit while fuelling your body instead of damaging it.
Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
If you snap and bite a nail, simply pick up from where you left off. Do not undo all of your hard work over one nail. You should plan to fail a few times and aim to try again. It is difficult to break a habit on the first attempt.