What is Onychophagia?

I think I just won the spelling bee! Better known as fingernail biting, it can be damaging to your teeth and gums. Tooth wear, enamel chipping and cracking, is most often the result of nail biting.

In our practice, we have also witnessed extreme cases of gum recessions – especially when the patient has a bonded lingual retainer on the lower front teeth. Nail biting can tip the crown back and the root forward exposing the root to the tooth. This can lead to the need for gum grafting and six months of orthodontics to reposition the root.

Jaw problems can also be a result of nail biting. The Academy of General Dentistry determined that it costs patients around $4,000 extra to repair damages from nail biting.

The most common treatment is to use a nail polish (that tastes terrible) for a while to help break the habit. Denatonium benzoate can be bought at most pharmacies. Good nail grooming also helps and asking family and friends to help you break the habit can be helpful.

We have found two products to be useful and they can be purchased at CVS or on Amazon.com.


Dr. David McSurdy

The Smile Specialists

Located in Collegeville & Gilbertsville PA