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How to prevent and treat nail biting: Part 2

nail biting


Similar to stereotypic movements, a habit is a learned behaviour that a person repeats so often that he or she begins to do it without even thinking about it. Certain habits can be helpful but some may seem to serve no particular purpose.

• Helpful habits - brushing teeth before going to bed or buckling your seatbelt when getting into a car.

•  Habits with no purpose - hair twirling, thumb sucking, nail biting… etc.

Some habits are annoying, and some can cause distress or become the focus of teasing. Still others may have harmful effects. For example, thumb sucking, which can go on for years, can cause dental problems.

Is there a thing called ’’Physiological habit’’?

Some habit-like behaviour is normal for a developing child. For example, approximately one half of all 2-year-old children engage in thumb sucking. However, if this behaviour persists through childhood, the likelihood of it becoming a substantial problem may increase with age.

Possible causes of nail biting

Like any other stereotypic movement, nail biting can be caused by:

· sensory deprivation (blindness or deafness)

· drug use (cocaine, amphetamines)

· brain disease (seizures, infection)

· major psychiatric disorders (anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism)

·  mental retardation

Nail biting is, according to Freudian theory, a symptom of oral fixation.

It is very important to know that, although many situations can give rise to stereotypic movements, the root cause of stereotypic movement disorder is unknown.

Different theories propose that the causes are: · behavioral · neurological · genetic

Although there are many theories about this disorder, no hard evidence clearly supports either line of reasoning or specific cause.

Symptoms of nail biting

The fact is that most childhood habits are benign and have no specific observable physical signs. However, when physical signs are present, they are typically non-pathologic and often previously unnoticed. It is proven that nail biting can be associated with the next symptoms:

· extremely short fingernails

· paronychia

· oral herpes

· herpetic whitlow

· damaged dentition

· apical root resorption

· fractures to the incisors

· gingivitis

Nail biting can worsen some existing conditions of the nail bed, such as:

· Infection of the skin around the nail (paronychia)

· Warts around the nail bed

Negative side-effects of nail biting

Biting the nails can result in the transportation of microorganisms that are hidden under the surface of the nail into the mouth. This could lead to some very serious infections of the gums and lips. In fact, over 100 bacterial skin infections in 2000 were traced to footbaths in nail salons. It is proven that many pathogens have the ability to live and multiply inside of a nail, and still cause no significant symptoms.

 Nail biting also has the negative side effect of restraining the use of the hands. Although, they are afraid to admit it, compulsive nail-biters can be restricted in their ability to work because their hand is in their mouth. These jobs include writing, typing, drawing; driving and other. It can cause not only damage to the nails but to the teeth also. The substantia adamantinea of the front teeth suffers most damage and it leads to promoting caries in these areas.

Source: steadyhealth.com

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