Onychophagia is the name given to the compulsive habit of biting the fingernails with the teeth. A mania that begins approximately between the ages of three and six and that can drive parents crazy. Although it starts out as a bad habit, in certain cases it could lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder. In fact, it is one of the most frequent during childhood and adolescence. However, it does not need to become a more serious problem to affect the dental health of minors.
Nerves, stressful situations, anxiety, worries or even the purest boredom. The reasons that push children to bite their nails, sometimes even unconsciously, are varied. But it will be important to help them break this habit, otherwise it could have considerable consequences for their teeth and jaw.
There are a number of compelling reasons why the habit of biting your nails on a regular basis is negative for oral health. The first reason has to do with the dental wear that it causes, since onychophagia, when it is prolonged and constant, progressively damages the teeth and causes them to deteriorate, especially in the case of the incisors. Little by little the enamel is affected, which will erode and lose its qualities of resistance and durability.
Another of the main oral problems due to nail biting is the appearance of changes in the jaw. Continuous nibbling causes pain in the area, which can also progress to the ear and head. Even within the dental structure, deformations can be produced, as in the arrangement of the teeth, by means of a crowding of these. The gums and the palate will easily be affected as well.
By constantly putting your fingers in your mouth to bite your nails, all the bacteria found on them come into direct contact with the oral cavity and endanger your hygiene. For this reason, it is common for infections to arise or to spread viruses, for example, sores in the mouth. The consequences can reach the digestive system, through vomiting or diarrhea.
What usually leads to all this too? In problems of halitosis or bad breath, due to poor hygiene in the oral area and the proliferation of bacteria. Another consequence is having an increased risk of tooth decay.
This is the global impact that the bad habit of biting nails causes on oral health, which is why it is important to become aware of ending it.