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Can You Learn to Stop Nibbling Your Nails?

Believe it or not, you can nail your nibbling habit — and the sooner, the better. Experts have linked nail-biting to bruxism, or the grinding or clenching of teeth. Bruxism can cause jaw problems, facial pain, and extremely sensitive teeth.

Here are a few key ways to break the habit. You also can try these techniques with youngsters. Just remember to praise them for their efforts.

  • Trim rough, ragged nails and file them smooth. Broken nails can be very tempting to nibble.

  • Apply a bitter-tasting polish or liquid to nails.

  • Learn to do something else when you feel the urge to chew. For example, make fists for a minute or so. But be careful not to swap one bad habit for another. Chewing on a pencil can lead to mouth injury, too!

“Nail-Biting Can Lead to Bruxism.” Academy of General Dentistry, January 2012. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=N&iid=292&aid=1135. Accessed 2013.

“Your Child’s Habits.” GirlsHealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, August 2011. kidshealth.org/PageManager.jsp?dn=girlshealth&article_set=21617&lic=175&cat_id=146. Accessed 2013.

“Your Nails.” KidsHealth, June 2010. http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/nails.html. Accessed 2013.

“Caring for Nail Infections.” Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/for-kids/about-nails/infections. Accessed 2013.

Author: Ramos, Laura
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