Everyone knows that nail biting is a bad habit, but many don't know just how much damage it can do to your teeth. If you think that crooked teeth and chewed up nails is the worst that you can go through, you might be surprised. Biting your nails on a regular basis can severely damage your teeth, even resulting in some of them being much shorter than others. Here's what you need to know about this kind of damage and what you should do about it.

How to Tell

It's fairly easy to tell if your teeth have been shortened by biting your nails on a regular basis. Here are the two best ways to do it.

The first way that you can tell is by comparing your tooth sizes to each other. For example, check if your two front teeth are different lengths, or your bottom row of teeth look different from each other. Many people use the same teeth to bite their nails every time, so one can be much shorter than its next-door neighbor.

Alternatively, you can check to see if the edges of your teeth are ragged. This is a big sign that there's a tooth shortening in progress. You may not be able to tell a difference in length when comparing teeth to each other simply because you evenly bite using all your teeth.

How it Happens

Although fingernails are much softer than teeth, it's a matter of repetition. If you do one thing often enough, it will have a cumulative effect. If you put extreme pressure on your teeth every day to chew on your fingernails, it will eventually wear down the tooth and cause damage to it, especially if you're not receiving regular dental care from a professional.

What to Do

Obviously, giving up nail biting is the best thing you can do for your teeth. However, that will only keep you from doing more damage to your teeth in the future.

To fix the current damage, you need to visit a dentist. Having your teeth shortened doesn't just have an impact on how you look. The damage to your teeth wears away at the edge's enamel, opening it up to dangerous bacteria and acids from what you eat and drink. Your dentist can help to repair this damage to ensure that you don't experience cavities stemming from the wear and tear.

If you're concerned about your teeth because you have a nail biting habit, talk to a dentist right away. Your dentist can help to restore your teeth and prevent further damage from happening. They may even have useful advice on stopping the nail biting habit that have worked for their other patients, so don't be afraid to ask.