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VOLUME 11 , ISSUE 2 ( March, 2010 ) > List of Articles


Gingival Abscess Due to an Unusual Nail-Biting Habit: A Case Report

Denise Sousa, Daniela Pinto, Rebecca Araujo, Rodrigo Otavio Rego, Jose Moreira-Neto

Citation Information : Sousa D, Pinto D, Araujo R, Rego RO, Moreira-Neto J. Gingival Abscess Due to an Unusual Nail-Biting Habit: A Case Report. J Contemp Dent Pract 2010; 11 (2):85-91.

DOI: 10.5005/jcdp-11-2-85

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Published Online: 01-12-2016

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2010; The Author(s).



Nail-biting is one of the most frequent deleterious oral habits in children. It can result in systemic diseases or oral traumatic lesion. This report describes a case of gingival abscess in a child due to a fingernail-biting habit.

Case Description

A 5-year, 6-month-old female presented gingival swelling and fistula in the primary maxillary left central and right lateral incisors as an unusual sequelae to the periodontal tissues from fingernail-biting. A periodontal curette was used to remove the fragments and to curette the area. After the curettage, an exudate of blood and pus was drained. Then the area was irrigated with 0.12% chlorhexidine solution; applying finger pressure controlled the secretion. After one week, the patient returned with gingival swelling present in the same teeth. The same curettage procedure was performed. It was suggested that the deleterious habit was related to emotional tension and anxiety behaviors and the patient was referred for psychological treatment. When the patient returned one month later, she was still biting her fingernails, but she had stopped placing fragments into the gingival crevice. No more gingival inflammation or swelling was observed.


This paper presents an unusual case report of a gingival abscess due to a fingernailbiting habit in a child, probably related to an emotional condition.

Clinical Significance

The fingernail-biting habit can induce a periodontal traumatic injury yielding a more serious complication such as a gingival abscess.


Sousa D, Pinto D, Araujo R, Rego RO, Moreira-Neto J. Gingival Abscess Due to an Unusual Nail-Biting Habit: A Case Report. J Contemp Dent Pract [Internet]. 2010 March; 11(2):085-091. Available from: http://www.thejcdp. com/journal/view/volume11-issue2-rego.

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