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The Los Angeles Times published an article recently about breaking common daily bad habits. One of the 4 tips was how to prevent harm caused by nail biting. Nail biting is one of the most common nervous habits and can be very difficult to quit. An old remedy is to paint a bitter coating on the nails. A weekly manicure can be a deterrent to nail biting for some people. In addition to nail biting, other teeth related habits include biting cheeks, pencils, or clenching and grinding. Anxiety can usually explain why people have any of these habits. Grinding and clenching sometimes increase when patients take SSRI medications, which are typically given for depression and ADHD.
Grinding, clenching, and biting can have long-term effects on the teeth including excessive wear, fractures, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. As an alternative to chewing on objects, try chewing sugarless gum. For grinding, a dental appliance made by your dentist can be made that is worn at night to protect your teeth and TMJ.