Dental care and oral health information you need
from the Academy of General Dentistry

Friday, December 13, 2019
Know Your Teeth Academy of General Dentistry Know Your Teeth


Nail-biting Can Lead to Bruxism


People who bite their fingernails when stressed, chew on a pencil if nervous or clench their jaw during sports competitions could be at greater risk for bruxism, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

Bruxism technically refers to the unintentional grinding or clenching of teeth that may cause facial pain. Bruxers another name for those who suffer from bruxism may bite down too hard at inappropriate times, such as in their sleep.

"Bruxism is a very common problem, and it can be easily fixed if you see your dentist," says AGD spokesperson Charles Perle, DMD, FAGD. "However, without help, you could cause bigger problems." Over time, bruxers will experience jaw pain, tense muscles, headaches and sensitive teeth. Forceful biting when not eating can also cause the jaw to move out of proper balance.

Reviewed: January 2012


Chapter: How Your Dentist Can Help

Your dentist automatically checks for signs of bruxism during routine visits. Once the problem is identified, treatment can begin. Therapy helps to change a bruxer's behavior by learning how to rest the tongue upward with teeth apart and lips shut. Simply becoming aware of the problem is usually enough to relieve discomfort and stop the habit.

If necessary, however, a dentist may provide a plastic mouth appliance, such as a night guard, to absorb the force of biting, while preventing further damage to the teeth and assisting in stopping the destructive behavior.

If bruxism is not treated, a patient may have to deal with serious injury to their tooth enamel or they might possibly have to deal with recessed gums in some areas because of the damage done to the alignment of the jaw. Your dentist can examine your teeth to determine whether you may have bruxism and will be able to determine the best method of treatment.

Reviewed: January 2012


Chapter: Signs of Bruxism

  • Tips of the teeth look flat
  •  Tooth enamel is rubbed off, causing extreme sensitivity
  • Popping and clicking of the jaw
  • Tongue indentations
Reviewed: January 2012