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Nail biting is a common occurrence among children: at last 60 percent of children and 45 percent of teens bite their nails. It’s also the nervous habit most likely to continue into adulthood. Nail biting may seem like a harmless pastime, but it can do a good deal of harm to your child’s teeth.

If your child has adult teeth, nail biting could increase the need for braces within a few years. Pushing fingernails into the crevices between teeth will cause your child’s pearly whites to shift overtime, leading to large spacing, overcrowding and crooked alignment. When your child’s teeth shift, they become more difficult to clean, which could cause dental health issues such as gum disease.

Another reason nail biting is destructive is because the keratin (the protective protein that makes up fingernails) is abrasive and will strip the enamel from your child’s teeth. Without enamel, the softer, vulnerable tooth tissue is left exposed to bacteria and tooth decay. Furthermore, the constant pressure and prodding of fingernails could crack an entire tooth. Cracked teeth hurt, and trauma to adult teeth could require dental fillings or even tooth surgery. If the crack is severe enough, the tooth may need to be removed.

If you’re concerned about your child’s nail biting habit, bring him or her to see Dr. Duane C. Clouse at Treasured Smiles Children’s Dentistry, Duane C. Clouse, PC to monitor any potential tooth trauma. Dr. Duane C. Clouse specializes in children’s dental care and could suggest solutions to nail biting. You can contact us at 520-316-6111 to schedule an appointment.