I have two bad habits: nail-biting and teeth grinding.
I can’t really recall a time I didn’t bit my nails. I do it without thinking which is strange since I am a borderline germaphobe. You’d think putting my hand in my mouth would make my germaphobic side scream out “STOP!” but it never did. I mean, I won’t touch a public restroom door handle after I’ve carefully washed my hands and yet I will put my finger in my mouth. That makes zero sense. (Seriously though- do you know how many people leave a public restroom without washing their hands? TOO MANY that’s how many.)
Once a brazen woman I work with on event committees even had the gall to tell me “take your hand out of your mouth!” while making a slapping gesture towards my hand. I didn’t even know I was biting my nails at the time. Also, hello!, you are crossing a person boundary lady. The nail-biting is mostly unconscious. I nibble at my cuticles to pass the time. If I break a nail my OCD kicks in and I have to get the nail even or it drives me batty. I have longed for pretty nails with actual nail length that would be worthy of pretty polish. For non-jagged cuticles. To overcome the need to put my hand in my mouth when I am bored, thinking, or fixating.
For the past month I’ve been trying an experiment in an effort to stop.
Step one: get a manicure. Granted, I gave myself the manicure but still, I did it up right as best I could. I even put on bright red polish despite my barely existing nails knowing that my vanity would stop me from munching on my nails if the threat of red polish chipping off and getting stuck in my teeth could occur. Stuff stuck in my teeth is up there with stuff dangling out of my nose. The horror!
Step two: every time I notice my hand making its way to my mouth, put a breath mint in my mouth. So far, the only side effect to this maneuver is fresh breath. BONUS!
I’m happy to report that it’s working. I have actual nails that reach the tip of my finger and non-jagged cuticles. I can even drum my nails on a table top and you can hear them. Because they exist! It’s awesome! Of course, wouldn’t you know it, I got the tip of my right thumb stuck in a public restroom lock last weekend and subsequently have had to wear a big band-aid to cover the very deep gouge of missing skin. I will never under-appreciate my thumb again. I can’t tell you how many things are difficult to do without a working thumb. Appreciate your thumbs today, people. That’s my public service announcement for the day.
I have, for a very long time, suffered from TMJ which has resulted in my jaw locking (a long, long time ago) and a fairly constant jaw popping when I open my mouth wide. It actually feels good to stretch my jaw joint but the sound in my head when I do so is rather loud. I’m certain you could hear it if you were sitting next to me. It’s sort of like people who need to crack their knuckles all the time. It is loud, it sounds bad, but it gives a sense of relief.
Side note: I once had a dentist tell me, when I told him how my jaw ached a lot, to not open my mouth wide. THAT WAS HIS ADVICE. I no longer go to that dentist.
My current dentist has repeatedly commented that I might want to invest in a night guard. My first thought was BRING ON THE SEXY because really, who wouldn’t want to make out with a person wearing a night guard? He’s right though- I need one. Every year I have to get the tips my front teeth smoothed down because my teeth grinding has caused them to become jagged. You probably cannot notice unless you are all up in my smile (which would be awkward so why would you do that?) but I notice. I worry that if I keep neglecting this problem I will be 60 and with caps on my teeth because I’ve worn away my actual teeth.
I can pay out-of-pocket something upwards of $400 for a professionally molded and fitted night guard or I can stop at the pharmacy and pick one up that I can mold myself at home. I think those run about $60. A part of me is like, just cough up the money for the good one that will fit well, and then the cheap side of me is all, just grab the over-the-counter one and hope it works. Decisions, decisions. . . but one must be made soon. The fate of my smile depends on it.
Do you have habits that need to be broken? How have you overcome them? Do tell!