Is Your Child’s Nail-biting Affecting Her Teeth?

Nail biting child on white background

Did you know that around 30% of kids between the ages of seven and 10 bite their nails? Yes, it’s true! Your child is not the only one who has this annoying and harmful habit. But whether your little one is doing this consciously or subconsciously, you should address it immediately because of the oral health and overall health consequences that you might not know about.

Here are some little-known risks that are associated with nail-biting:

Exposure to Disease-Causing Bacteria

You might not know it but your nails are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, including pathogenic ones like E. coli and Salmonella. When your little one bites his or her nails, those bacteria are transferred into your child’s mouth and they eventually spread to the rest of the body, leading to infections.

Susceptibility to Paronychia

Paronychia is a skin infection that occurs around the nails. When children chew their nails, bacteria and yeast, as well as other microorganisms, can find their way in through abrasions or tears. This may lead to redness, swelling, and even pus around the nail. This is a painful condition that may even require surgical draining.

Dental Problems

Nail biting can also affect dental occlusion or how the upper and lower teeth come together when the mouth is closed. Your child’s teeth may shift out of their proper position, get misshapen, and even wear down prematurely.

Nail-biting often starts in childhood and pea in adolescence. It usually declines with age. But that does not mean you just have to wait for your child to grow out of it.  Here are some things that you can try to help your child quit biting his or her nails:

  • Keep your child’s nails trimmed short
  • If your child will let you, make him or her wear gloves or mittens at home
  • If your child bites her nails because of boredom, you can engage her in activities that will keep her hands busy like knitting, colouring, painting, and more

It is important that as soon as your child is old enough to understand that you tell her the risks that go with nail-biting. More often than not, kids stop when they get an understanding that nail-biting is not as harmless a habit as they though it to be.