Braces and Nails: Why You Should Stop Biting Your Nails Before Getting Braces

If you have a habit of biting your nails and you will soon be getting braces, you should do everything you can between now and then to stop. According to research conducted at the University of Manchester, UK, human nails have the structural strength of horse's hooves. That means they can take a lot of punishment and still keep on growing. Your teeth, however; unlike your nails, don't grow back once damaged.

Biting nails already puts your teeth under pressure, but when you add the pressure of braces too, the risk of damage increases.

Braces Put Pressure on Your Teeth

In order to shift your teeth into a position which will not only make your smile more attractive, but also make it easier for you to chew your food, braces apply constant, steady pressure to your teeth. However, this pressure is slow and gradual, guiding teeth into position rather than forcing them. 

When you bite your nails regularly, the constant pressure on your teeth gradually pushes them out of position. The effect is similar to that of people leaning against a utility pole. At first, there is no noticeable change, but over time the pole will begin to lean away from the pressure.

The Constant Pressure Might Loosen Your Roots

Combined, these two forces can be strong enough to loosen the roots of your teeth. This will cause your tooth to wobble in its socket, making it difficult to use it effectively when eating. Worse still, a loose tooth could even fall out if you continue to bite your nails. If this happens while you are wearing braces, you will need to see your orthodontist immediately for an evaluation.

Whatever happens, your treatment will be slowed and you will likely need to pay for additional dental work to replace the missing tooth.

You Could Also Damage the Brackets or Wires

Nail-biters often become very creative when biting their nails with braces. They learn to bite from different angles, using different teeth to achieve the same aim. However, because your brackets and wires are so close to your fingers as you bite your nails, there is a good chance that you might break the brackets or bend the wires of your braces. Your braces will then need to be repaired, slowing your treatment further and leaving you even more out of pocket.

If you are about to get braces or Invisalign, now is the ideal time to quit biting your nails. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it. Orthodontists recommend that you keep your nails neatly trimmed at all times while wearing braces as this can lessen the urge to bite your nails. Attach some nail clippers to your key-ring and whenever you feel the urge to bite, remind yourself that you have clippers for that now.