Chewing on things while we’re babies or even children is one of those things that is socially acceptable, for the most part. Barring any extreme cases where the child is also sucking on those things too often or too hard, it’s fine to let babies and young children put things in their mouths from time to time.
The thing is, chewing on stuff is something that extends into adulthood for some people. One of the number one reasons for this excessive chewing is stress. Whether it’s chewing on the end of a pencil or pen during a particularly tough test or biting your nails when distraught or worried about something that’s about to happen, chewing can be a negative thing.
The thing is, it’s not just bad for your fingers when chewing on them or even whatever materials you’re wasting by gnawing too much at those.
Excessive chewing can lead to other problems. First off, if the material isn’t necessarily soft or for biting, your teeth may be affected over time. And if the thing you’re chewing on isn’t healthy as it is (like plastic or other treated materials), you may get sick from exposing your mouth to certain surfaces.
But a particularly serious condition that can develop from chewing on things during the day is bruxism, or teeth grinding. At some point, you’ve probably heard about someone grinding their teeth in their sleep, even though they don’t know they’re doing it.
Teeth grinding can cause all sorts of problem with the mouth, especially because you’re literally whittling your teeth down everytime you do it.
Chewing during the day trains your jaw to become accustomed to the motion of grinding your teeth, and if it’s associated with stress (which it most likely is), you’re bound to do it in your sleep at night. That’s especially true if you’re not completely at peace with everything and have other things on your mind. Your body will naturally grind your teeth for you because that’s what you’ve grown to do during the day.
Now, bruxism can be helped. Whether you get a mouth guard or device to wear at night or you figure out and fix the root of your stress, there are ways to help with teeth grinding.
But I’m here to tell you that the number one way to get rid of the condition is to stop your bad habits during your waking hours. The more you let yourself chew on your nails or pen during the day, the more you’re going to grind your teeth at night.