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Jefferson Valley NY’s Top Rated Orthodontist on Onychophagia – Are You Unknowingly Affected?

Dr. Richard Schectman Explains, Are You Unknowingly Affected?

One out of two kids are affected by it and one out of seven adults are plagued by it. It’s unsanitary, it can cause damage to your teeth over time, and it can actually cost you money without you ever realizing it. Luckily, it’s very easy to figure out if you suffer from it (you don’t even need to see a doctor) and over time you can learn to control it. You only need to ask yourself one simple question: Do you bite your nails? If the answer is yes – you are one of the many people who suffer from onychophagia and it’s effects.

Oftentimes there is pain associated with biting your nails too short and you may have trouble picking up small objects (like coins) or performing tasks that require a bit of nail length (like opening a can of soda). Unfortunately, the drawbacks don’t stop there. As mentioned earlier, it is unsanitary. Dirt, germs, and bacteria collect under your nails and then you put them in your mouth. Yuck!

Nail biting also causes wear-and-tear damage to your teeth. It wears down the enamel, as well as sometimes causing crooked teeth. If you have to get braces, nail biting can also prolong the length of treatment while causing damage to your gums. With all of the dental work that your top New York (NY) Orthodontist has to be done to correct the unfortunate side effects of nail-biting, most nail-biters (and their parents) will end up spending up to $4,500! Ouch!

The good news is you may have already identified yourself as a nail-biter. Your next step is learning to control the urge and to identify the triggers. Triggers that often cause nail-biting are stress, anxiousness, or boredom. Figure out what drives your habit so you’ll be better prepared to extinguish it.

To combat biting while you determine your triggers, there are a few easy treatments or methods you can try.

  • Bitter Polish – There is a bitter coating you can buy at any drugstore that comes in a nail polish bottle. You apply it in the morning and reapply it any time you start to bite your nails or wash your hands. The foul tasting coating will deter you from biting.
  • Rubber Band/Stress Ball – You can put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you start to bite your nails. Doing this consistently will make you hyper aware of when you are doing it and to stop. Or you can keep a stress ball with you, and every time you are tempted to chew, occupy your hands by playing with and squeezing the stress ball.
  • Band-Aids – Every morning, wrap each finger tip with a standard band-aid. It will act as a divider between your mouth and your nails. You’ll feel silly and look silly with the bandages, creating an accelerated motivator to kick the habit.
  • Gloves – Sometimes our minds see barriers (like band-aids) as obstacles. If you tried the band-aid method and you are still chewing your nails with the band-aids on, try creating a bigger barrier. Winter gloves come in handy for this, but, if you need more functionality (like writing with a pencil or typing at a computer) always keep a pair of latex gloves with you to wear if you can’t resist the urge to bite. Latex gloves oftentimes will get hot and sweaty, creating an even bigger motivator to stop biting.

If you have tried all of these methods, as well as identifying your triggers and you still can’t stop biting your nails, behavioral therapy may be an option for you. However, as 95% of people can stop from will-power alone, so I would make behavior modification a last effort.

Schechtman Orthodontics of Jefferson Valley NY and Purchase NY are the only orthodontic practices in Westchester and Putnam counties in New York (NY) that utilize SureSmile® technology. SureSmile® technology speeds up the braces process by as much as 35%, and provides the most precise treatment. We are also an Invisalign® provider and we offer our patients other alternatives to traditional braces.

Schechtman Orthodontics currently offers a complimentary Schechtman Smile Analysis. There are many types of braces that can be used to achieve your perfect smile. Schechtman Orthodontics is Westchester county and Putnam county’s top rated orthodontist for transforming smiles for over 25 years.

Financial considerations should not be an obstacle to obtaining your best smile with braces. We offer affordable payment plans with low monthly installments.

Book your free, no obligation Schechtman Smile Analysis today!


At Schechtman Orthodontics, we want to ensure you are confident with your decision for not only your choice in orthodontic treatment, but also for the orthodontics office in New York you choose to start your braces and orthodontic treatment. To ensure you are completely confident in your decision, we offer a few no-obligation, no-pressure ways to get started!

  1. Find out what the most important aspects are in choosing the right orthodontist in Jefferson Valley or Purchase, NY for you or your child by reading our free report, "The Top 10 Things To Know Before Choosing Your Orthodontist."
  2. Take this assessment to see if Dr. Schechtman is the right orthodontist for you or your family!
  3. Click here to fill out the form to receive your complimentary Schechtman Smile Analysis, a $250 value!
  4. Call 914.962.9600 to speak with a Schechtman Orthodontics team member right away!
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