The Psychology Behind Nail Biting Habits
Studies show up to 50% of adults habitually bite their nails. Nail nibbling is one of many body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), but also include cheek chewing and cuticle picking. Learn more about your BFRB, and how to break the habit.
The Reason for the Ritual
Some people bite because of boredom—the act keeps the body occupied while the mind is bored and others do it during times of stress or anxiety.
The Bad in Biting
Biting habits come with unwanted side effects. Chronic biters are more likely to develop bruxism, according to the National Academy of General Dentistry. Known as the unintentional grinding and clenching of teeth, bruxism can cause headaches, jaw pain and sensitive teeth. It can also result in a misaligned bite.
When you pick at your nails, cuticles, cheeks or lips, germs sneak into the tiny tears, making the area prone to infection. Chewing the inside of your cheeks, for example, can cause canker sores.
Breaking Bad (Habits)
The first step to stopping is to take notice. Jot down what was happening when you began the behavior. How were you feeling? Tracking details over time will help you find themes. Whenever you feel tempted to bite your nails, occupy your hands with another task. Try sitting on your fingers or drawing a doodle.
Think before you bite, and protect your smile.
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