Q. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Phil Collins, LeBron James, Eva Mendes, Britney Spears, and Casey Affleck. What have these famous people had in common?
A. Nail biting.
Nail biting is one of the most common ‘nervous habits.’ It can be triggered by stress, excitement, boredom or inactivity. It can also be a learned behavior from family members. About half of all children between the ages of 10 and 18 have been nail biters at one time or another. Most people stop biting their nails by age 30. Here’s why nail biting is unhealthy:
• It’s unsanitary. Fingernails are home to bacteria and germs. Nails are almost twice as dirty as fingers. And swallowing dirty nails can lead to stomach problems.
• It wears teeth down, putting added stress on your front teeth that can lead to malocclusion.
• Braces hate nail biting. During orthodontic treatment, nail biting puts additional pressure on teeth and weakens roots.
• It can be costly. Nail biting can result in up to $4,000 in additional dental bills over a lifetime.
Here’s how you can break the nail biting habit:
• Try to be conscious of your fingernails. Keep them looking good.
• Apply clear, bitter-tasting nail polish to the nails.
• Mouth guards can help prevent nail biting.
• Think about when and why you chew your nails. Understanding the triggers can help you find a solution and stop the habit.
• Some nail biters have found behavioral therapy an effective means to stop nail biting.