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Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2008 Aug;134(2):305-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2006.06.023.

Nailbiting, or onychophagia: a special habit.

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  • 1Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Graduate dentistry program, Orthodontics, Curitiba, Brazil.


Onychophagia, or nailbiting, is a common oral habit, observed in both children and adults. The etiologies suggested for nailbiting include anxiety, stress, loneliness, imitation of other family member, heredity, inactivity, transference from a thumb-sucking habit, and poorly manicured nails. Treatment should be directed at the causes; punishment, ridicule, nagging and threats, and application of bitter-tasting commercial preparations on the nail are a variety of reminders, but are not appropriate approaches to treatment. The key to success is the nailbiter's consent and cooperation.

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