- How Can I Stop Chewing My Lower Lip?
- Often referred to as “cheek chewing,” chronic cheek biting can result in a myriad of complications.
- A simple two-step management approach can be helpful for many people who feel overwhelmed by the issue.
- Behavioral approaches such as breath work or relaxation exercises can provide significant relief.
- Finally, receiving emotional support is an important part of your strategy.
- More on bfrb.org:
- Cheek Biting in Adults: What You Need to Know
- Why Does Cheek Biting Happen?
- How Can You Stop Biting Your Cheeks?
- Relaxation to Stop Biting the Inside of the Mouth
- How to Stop Biting Your Lips
- What is cheek biting?
- What triggers cheek biting?
- When is cheek biting a problem?
- Can cheek biting cause oral cancer?
- How to stop cheek biting
- Stress and cheek biting
- Are Lip & Cheek Biting Actually Bad for You?
- How to stop anxious lip biting
- Study: 94% Probability Biting Lip Once Will Result In Second Bite In Same F**king Spot
- Can Chewing Your Lip Cause Cancer?
How Can I Stop Chewing My Lower Lip?
Q. 1 What can I do to stop chewing the inside of my lower lip and cheek? I am compulsive about it, and just can’t stop. Have you seen this in other patients? What do you recommend to break the habit? Could it cause any kind of long-term damage?
— Phyllis, Florida
Many people do bite or chew on the insides of the lower lip or cheek, perhaps out of boredom or nerves. This habit is often initially prompted by a misdirection of the teeth that causes the person to mistakenly bite into the lower lip while chewing. This obviously causes pain and swelling, which results in blood filling the area and forming a lump or bump, known medically as an oral hematoma. Although this is simply the result of the trauma, it can extend into your chewing cycle and the wound can easily be opened again. I find that when I bite my lower lip by mistake I often repeat that process two to three times before the wound is healed. As you stated, it can become a nervous habit, especially when there is a palpable bump, but it is important to try to stop yourself because you could potentially develop scar tissue that remains there permanently, or becomes some type of growth, either benign or cancerous. Long-term chronic trauma can lead to abnormal cellular growth.
My recommendation is that you see your dentist and discuss this issue with him. There are several options that can help you deal with it, which may include:
- Applying petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to your inner lip over the excess tissue so that it reminds you not to play with it.
- Having your dentist remove the excess tissue and place some sutures in the area so you won’t have extra tissue to bite on. The sutures will also remind you not to keep hitting them.
- Wearing a lower mouth appliance, like a night guard, to keep your lip away from the biting surface of your teeth.
It is also important to have the area examined, and possibly surgically remove the tissue and have it biopsied, to make sure there are no abnormal cells in the area already.
Q. 2 My 82-year-old mother has a palate condition that has developed over the years. I have found very little information about it to help her. She has a lump in the center of the upper roof of her mouth that has grown larger over time. It is oval in shape, and has caused her discomfort in eating certain foods, specifically crusted foods like toast, because it gets irritated. Have you ever heard of such a growth, if it is indeed a growth? Might it be surgically removed? Is there anything I can get to assist in numbing the feeling in that area to make her mouth feel better? Oral gels that desensitize the area don’t seem to help.
— Donna, Delaware
This very common condition is called torus palatinus, also known as oral tori. It causes bony growths to develop on the direct palate of the arch of the upper jaw or on the tongue side of the lower jaw on one or both sides. These growths can be any size or shape, though often they are rounded like pebbles. Only a very thin layer of tissue covers them and this can easily be irritated, scratched, cut, or burned, depending on the type of food that is eaten.
While this condition is harmless and not associated with any other diseases, it does get in the way if a denture or partial denture is needed. It may even be difficult to take X-rays in the area depending on the size of the growth. It is possible to remove them, though most people do not unless it’s necessary for a denture or partial denture.
Having said all this, it is still critical that your mother visit an excellent dentist who can evaluate and diagnose her condition in person. Without seeing her, I cannot tell if a growth of any kind — whether benign or not — is in fact what she’s dealing with. More than likely, it is one of these tori and they can either be left alone or removed, based on her needs.
Q. 3 I had two root canals and temporary crowns put on, and then took a plane to Florida. Since returning I have felt a lot of pressure in my ears, and sometimes I have the same sort of feeling in the area of my tooth repair. Could this have anything to do with the dentistry that was done?
It is very common for someone to experience pain in their teeth or jaw if they fly shortly after root-canal therapy. The difference in air pressure can cause gases to build up inside the teeth and cause pain. I recommend waiting at least five to seven days to make sure there is no postoperative pain before getting on a plane. If the root canal is free of bacterial infection and any pain has been eliminated or minimized, then it is usually fine to fly.
The trouble and pressure in your ears, however, may not be related to your teeth; this issue may actually be caused by an inner-ear problem. While it is rare for an earache to cause tooth pain, there are always exceptions. It is more likely, however, that tooth pain in the lower jaw might feel like there is ear involvement.
My advice is to report back to the dentist who performed the root-canal treatment and put in the temporary crowns. The success of the procedure and final restorations should then be evaluated. If they check out fine and there is no dental issue, then I would go see an internist or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician who can analyze whether your problems might be related to your inner ear or even to something else.
Q. 4 Does anything happen to your gums or teeth if you regularly chew ice?
— Shelley, Oklahoma
Chewing ice actually has the potential to be fairly detrimental to the health of your teeth. Because saliva is warm and will usually melt the ice in your mouth, nine times out of ten nothing happens. Chewing anything as cold and hard as ice can potentially shock a nerve in a tooth, however, and you may end up requiring root canal therapy. Teeth are not flat, and when we chew and crunch on ice or anything else, the inclined planes on the tops of the teeth facilitate the chewing motion. If a piece of ice is between your teeth and you bite down at an unusual angle, you could potentially chip off part of the enamel on a tooth or crack off a filling. You might also crack, or split, the tooth itself. For this reason, I certainly recommend that you avoid chewing ice, especially on a regular basis.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Dental Health Center.
by Matthew Traube, MFT, Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist
Chronic cheek biting (morsicatio buccarum) is a compulsive behavior that causes an individual to repeatedly bite the inside of the cheek. Akin to skin picking (excoriation) and hair pulling (trichotillomania), chronic cheek biting is classified as a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB). Chronic cheek biting can be found in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) under the heading Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.
Often referred to as “cheek chewing,” chronic cheek biting can result in a myriad of complications.
Redness, painful sores, and tears can occur in the mucosa, which is the inner lining of the mouth. For some, after repetitive biting occurs, the lining of the cheek can start to feel irregular, increasing the urge to continue to bite in order to create a smooth surface. Psychologically, feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness may arise. Social activity can decrease in order to prevent others from observing the behavior.
As with other BFRBs, the roots of chronic cheek biting seem to be multifactorial. The behavior is more common for people who experience higher levels of stress and anxiety. Some people are compelled by the need for a smooth feeling of the inner cheek lining. Any perceived impurity such as a bump or scratch may produce the uncontrollable urge to remove the imperfection by biting the area. Other people can be unaware when they begin biting, experiencing a trance-like state. Eventually, they become conscious and aware of the damage they have caused to their inner cheek.
While cheek biting is less studied than other BFRBs, it is thought to share a similar complex etiology. It is likely that biologic predisposition, acting through genetic mechanisms, activates the repetitive behavior. This process may be initiated or influenced by emotional states, and can itself cause an emotional feedback loop that results in the recurring behavior. Because chronic cheek biting has both behavioral and emotional components, treatment should focus on both aspects. Similar to the case with other BFRBs, managing the behavior is very difficult if you are unaware you are doing it or in a trance-like state.
First, ensure the behavior is consciously observed. Second, work on strategies to change the behavior. The trick is to train yourself to notice the anticipatory signals that you are about to bite your cheek. This can be as simple as thinking to yourself, “I feel like I might bite my cheek,” or “I am biting my cheek.” Another strategy is to keep track of the behavior by journaling when the behavior occurs. Think about whether the behavior was triggered by an event, and what feelings were associated with it. By labeling the behavior and the emotions associated with it, we can move the behavior into our consciousness and increase our chances of regulating it. For an in-depth overview of treatment guidelines and considerations for BFRBs, download our free booklet, Expert Consensus Treatment Guidelines.
Because the act of cheek biting can create a soothing sensation, one strategy to change the behavior is to replace it with a healthier one that provides a similar soothing feeling. Sometimes this can be as simple as chewing gum as a replacement behavior. Other times breathing or relaxation exercises, imagery, and hypnosis can be useful. For example, breathing can be an effective tool to help quiet the mind and relax the body instead of relying on cheek biting to achieve a feeling of calm well-being. The simple practice of breathing in and out at a comfortable rate with attention focused on your breath can override the urge to bite. If your mind wanders to everyday concerns and the urge to bite, focus on slowly bringing your attention back to your breath entering and exiting your body until the urge decreases.
Behavioral approaches such as breath work or relaxation exercises can provide significant relief.
However, there are often emotional motivations that exist beneath the surface, fueling the behavior, which must be considered as part of your strategy. Think back to when the behavior first happened and ask yourself, what was your life like? Can you remember feeling happy, sad, upset or anxious?
Consider whether the behavior protects you in some way. It may prevent you from having to face uncomfortable social experiences or be an effective way to avoid succeeding in certain aspects of life. For example, you may tell yourself, “I wanted to go on the date, but once they found out about my behavior, it never would have worked,” as a way to protect yourself preemptively from social rejection. Cheek biting can also be used as a coping mechanism to relieve emotional pain, physical pain or a blend of the two. Understanding the meaning behind the pain can be useful.
Finally, receiving emotional support is an important part of your strategy.
It can make the difference between success and failure. Interacting with individuals who have experienced similar symptoms or a therapist who can provide coaching, insights, and emotional support are all very useful. Human connection can be a very powerful tool.
Chronic cheek biting, similar in nature to other BRFBs such as excoriation and trichotillomania, can cause significant distress. The most successful management strategies make use of a variety of therapeutic techniques that address actionable emotional and behavioral components. While learning how to manage the behavior, it is important to remember that emotional discomfort that influences the behavior is subjective rather than objective. This realization empowers you to choose how you experience these emotions and enables you to alter your behavior.
Matt is a Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist located in Santa Barbara, CA. He offers cognitive behavioral therapy, habit reversal training, and psychodynamic therapy for teens and adults who experience skin picking, hair pulling, anxiety, and image issues. When treating skin picking and hair pulling, it is important to recognize that it can be both a behavioral problem and an emotional problem and to treat both. Receiving emotional support and tools to manage the behavior can make the difference. www.matthewtraube.com
More on bfrb.org:
How are body-focused repetitive behaviors treated?
Download the Expert Consensus Treatment Guidelines
How can I find a therapist?: Search treatment provider referrals
Looking for information to help your child?: Review our Parent Resources
Keep in Touch: Join our email list
Let’s talk today about cheek biting.
That’s a sentence that will make some people say “huh?” while others say “yes, let’s.” The reason for this is because, by and large, cheek biting is somewhat akin to fingernail biting. Some of us do it as a bad habit, and some of us don’t. And, of course, the two sides don’t really understand the other (the side that doesn’t do it says “hey, just stop already,” while the side that does do it knows it’s just not that simple).
But yes, there are cheek biters out there. And when I say “cheek biters,” I mean the entire inside of the mouth — the cheek, the lips, and even the tongue. It’s just the phrase “cheek biters” sounds better.
As a NYC cosmetic dentist, I see a lot of cheek biting. Some cases are simply accidental, some cases are chronic, yet have easily remedied medical reasons, and some are physiological in nature. Let’s go over a few reasons/causes:
The first cause of cheek biting is what I call “careless chewing.” It’s something we all probably do from time to time. It’s when you’re chewing and usually trying to do something else — talking, reaching for something, reading etc. Talking is really the biggest culprit here (be it far from me to admonish people for reading while eating — my newspaper is a staple at lunch). This can be remedied by perhaps paying a little more attention to chewing, slowing down while eating, and similar.
But again, this is something we all probably do. Thus, an occasional cheek/lip bite is usually not a cause for concern.
More problematic is chronic cheek biting, usually due to some sort of misalignment in your teeth, or perhaps due to TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). This is quite common in some people — misaligned teeth cause our bites to be “off,” and can cause an occasional nip to the cheek/tongue/lips.
This can happen with your permanent teeth (which become misaligned due to missing teeth/etc), or with improperly aligned false teeth. Misaligned teeth not only cause an occasional accidental nip. In some people, misaligned teeth can create a psychological dependency in terms of biting one’s cheek. This is where chronic cheek biting starts.
When your teeth are misaligned, they do not close together properly. Our brains realize this, and sometimes look to “correct” this misalignment by putting something in between them. And what is available to put in there? You guessed it — the insides of your cheek/lips. So if you find yourself constantly putting your cheek/lips in between your teeth, misalignment could be the reason.
The last reason people bite their cheeks is due to a simple nervous habit, much like biting one’s nails. The root cause may or may not have been misaligned teeth or dentures, but “nervous habit” cheek biting can be prevalent even in a perfect mouth.
So, now that we know the causes, let’s discuss how harmful cheek biting is.
The first, and most obvious, “harmful aspect” is the simple fact that biting one’s cheek often leaves a sore, and mouth sores are never fun. Now again, if this is a twice yearly thing, perhaps it’s not worth worrying about, but if there are constant “bite related” sores in your mouth, it’s something you probably want to address, if nothing else, for your own comfort (and you don’t want them getting infected, etc).
Of course, like I mentioned above, cheek biting may mean misalignment, and misaligned teeth can cause all kinds of other problems (TMJ, headaches, moving teeth, etc.) So it’s probably a good idea to get this checked out, and corrected.
I have heard talk of mouth lesions sometimes being a cause of oral cancer. So that would lead one to think cheek biters may be more susceptible to developing oral cancer. I am not going to go that far — the research on such is somewhat spotty, and really, most of the condemning information that is out there is in the form of discussion forum posts and the like. But still, mouth sores are something you do want to eliminate.
Ok, we have causes and concerns — now let’s talk about fixing the issue.
Obviously, going by what I’ve laid out, the easiest fixes involve paying more attention when you chew, and, in many cases, getting a misalignment in your bite corrected. In fact, those two will likely eliminate cheek biting in a great majority of people.
For chronic “nervous habit” cheek biters, the solution may need some kind of substitute or “training” to eliminate the habit. For example, sugarless gum is something that can help. Or, if you are biting your lip, perhaps lip gloss/lip balm, which at least will make you “realize” what you are doing.
In the end, cheek biting is something almost all of us will experience at one time or another, and with a little effort, is pretty easy to correct.
Until next time, keep smiling!
Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter
Cheek Biting in Adults: What You Need to Know
It’s mealtime and you’re about to take a bite of food. But, instead of chomping down on something tasty, you close your mouth and take a big bite out of the inside of your cheek. Ouch!
It’s likely that there’s no one on the planet who hasn’t accidentally bitten their own cheek at some point. But cheek biting isn’t always an accident, and it can even be a major problem. In some cases, it’s a response to nervousness or stress. Learn more about why people bite their cheeks and what you can do to stop the habit.
Why Does Cheek Biting Happen?
There are a few reasons why people bite their cheeks and other areas inside the mouth, including the tongue and inside of the lips. In many instances, the bite occurs by accident. You’re trying to bite down on something else, but your cheek, tongue or lips get in the way and you bite down on them instead.
If you bite your cheeks or other areas inside of the mouth on a fairly regular basis, there might be a physical reason for doing so. For example, if you have misaligned teeth, it can be fairly easily to bite down on the cheek, lips or tongue, since the teeth don’t come together evenly and it’s easy for something else — like your cheek — to get in the way.
The causes of chronic cheek biting, also known as “morsicatio buccarum,” aren’t only physical. There can also be psychological causes. Repetitive or habitual biting of the cheeks is a type of body-focused repetitive disorder (BFRD). Other BFRDs include hair pulling and skin picking, as The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviorspoints out. Nail biting is also another type of BFRD.
When a person has a BFRD, they feel a compulsion to engage in an activity, such as pulling the hair or biting the cheeks and lips. In some cases, a person might not be aware that they are biting the inside of their mouth. Chewing on the inside of the cheek might help a person to feel calmer during times of stress or anxiety.
Sometimes, a person with a BFRD might start biting the inside of their cheek because they notice a bump or uneven texture. They might chew in an attempt to remove the bump or smooth out the rough patch, even though the act of biting does more harm than good.
How Can You Stop Biting Your Cheeks?
The occasional, accidental cheek bite isn’t something to worry too much about. You might develop a canker sore and experience some discomfort for a few days, but otherwise, it’s not a cause for concern.
But, if you find that you’re biting down on your cheeks or other areas inside the mouth fairly regularly, that might be a sign that your teeth aren’t in alignment or that something else is going on with your teeth and jaw. If you catch yourself biting the inside of your mouth regularly, such as on a monthly or weekly basis or even just more often than you’d like, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get things checked out. It could be that braces (or in a few cases, surgery) could be required to align your teeth and prevent bites.
In cases where biting your cheeks is a type of BFRD, one way to cope and to prevent yourself from chewing on the insides of your mouth is to find a habit to replace biting. That habit might be chewing sugarless gum or learning to take deep breaths when you feel the urge to bite.
Habitual cheek biting can lead to discomfort and lesions inside the mouth. Getting to the root of the problem and finding a way to correct the cause of the bites may help you fix the habit and enjoy a healthy mouth and beautiful smile.
Relaxation to Stop Biting the Inside of the Mouth
This relaxation script will help you to stop biting the inside of the mouth. This behavior is a common problem that can occur with boredom, stress, anxiety, or simply out of habit.
Copyright Notice: You may not make recordings or reproduce anything from this website, except for your personal, private use. Please see these frequently asked questions for details.
Get into a comfortable position where you can relax.
Close your eyes…and allow your attention to turn inward.
Take a deep breath, and let the breath out with a sigh…relaxing just a little as you breathe out.
Keep breathing at a comfortable pace…letting the air slowly move in and out of your body.
Focus on the inside of your eyelids. Imagine looking at the inside of your eyelids.
Is this surface completely dark, or does some light come through?
Imagine that the inside of your eyelids is like a screen, and imagine that projected on this screen is the number one. Picture the screen at a comfortable distance in front of you, so you can imagine seeing the number one clearly without straining your eyes.
Imagine this number one changing into number two. Allow your relaxation to deepen with each number you see…becoming more and more deeply relaxed.
Allow all thoughts to leave your mind…passively letting your mind empty and be filled with only the image on the screen before you, seeing the number two change to number three.
Focus all of your attention on the numbers, watching three change to four…becoming more and more deeply relaxed…
Four changing to five…five times as relaxed…
Now see number five changing to four…dropping down…down…down…into a state of deep relaxation…
From four to three…lower and lower the numbers and deeper relaxation with all of your focus and concentration and attention simply on the number on the screen as three becomes two…becomes one…becomes zero…
Sometimes biting the inside of the mouth occurs because the surfaces on inside of the lips and cheeks do not feel smooth. The rough surfaces are caused by biting the inside of the mouth. Biting the inside of the mouth causes this problem rather than relieves it.
When you stop biting the inside of the mouth, the lips and cheeks will quickly become smooth again.
Let’s focus on relaxing the mouth area. Begin with your jaw. Gently close your mouth so your teeth are together with slight pressure. Feel this pressure…this tension…wanting to relieve the tension in your jaw. Hold for a moment…and now relax. Release the tension, allowing the jaw to drop into a relaxed position…loose and relaxed…with a slight space between your upper and lower teeth.
Your lips may be slightly parted…or barely touching. Allow your lips to relax…becoming soft…free from tension…letting go…
Relax your cheeks…allowing your cheeks to become heavy with relaxation.
Allow your entire mouth to relax…completely free from tension…
This wonderful feeling of relaxation and stillness is so pleasant…
Without any desire to move…so content to remain in this comfortable position of complete relaxation…so deeply relaxed and comfortable.
The slightest bit of tension whatsoever causes you to relax your jaw and tongue and mouth.
You know that biting the inside of the mouth is contrary to the smooth, comfortable inside of the mouth you want to maintain, and so you refuse to engage in biting the inside of the mouth, and instead you relax and be still.
It feels so good to relax. This wonderful feeling of relaxation removes any desire to engage in biting the inside of the mouth at all.
In fact, the touch of your teeth to your lips or cheeks causes you to release any tension in your jaw and refuse to do any biting the inside of the mouth.
Touching the inside of your lips or cheeks with your tongue or with your teeth causes you to relax your mouth.
You refuse to bite the inside of your mouth.
Instead of biting the inside of the mouth, you choose to chew gum, apply lip balm, hum or sing a song, or have a healthy snack.
Biting the inside of the mouth is undesirable to you.
Every time your teeth make contact with the inside of your mouth in any way, you are reminded that you can relax easily and you are reminded to use a different, healthy behavior instead.
You have healthy behaviors to choose from, such as using lip balm, chewing gum, humming or singing.
Every time your teeth touch the inside of your mouth you think of relaxation.
Thinking of relaxation causes you to relax. Whenever you think of relaxation you do relax twice as quickly and easily as the previous time.
Focus on the relaxation you are experiencing, and notice how you feel right now.
You can create this feeling of relaxation at will, simply by remembering what it feels like to be relaxed.
You are a relaxed person. You can relax any time you want to.
You relax easily, instantly and deeply when you think of relaxation.
Relaxation is wonderful…such a peaceful, pleasant feeling.
Enjoy the feeling of relaxation you are experiencing…simply resting and relaxing…
You have completed this relaxation to stop biting the inside of the mouth. Now it’s time to reawaken your mind and body.
I’ll count to three. Become more awake and alert with each number, and when you hear the number three you are completely alert, awake, and energetic, feeling calm.
One, two, three.
Return from Relaxation to Stop Biting the Inside of the Mouth to Relaxation Scripts
Back to Guided Meditation Scripts
Back to Inner Health Studio Home
Back to Inner Health Studio Home
Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
How to Stop Biting Your Lips
Is the first thing you know about lip biting when it starts to bleed?
Most people with a lip biting problem say they don’t notice themselves doing it until it’s too late.
And by then unconscious lip biting has caused swollen, torn and sore lips.
And to make matters worse, as well as horrible looking and sore lips, when the lower lip is repeatedly bitten the upper teeth are forced to move abnormally.
This can stop the front teeth from fitting together properly. If this is prolonged, orthodontic problems can result causing pain and damage to the teeth and face.
The trouble is you don’t know you’re doing it – it’s not a conscious activity which is why hypnosis can help break the habit. Hypnosis deals with habits which are not consciously controlled.
Why does lip biting feel good?
Biting your lips may be triggered by various situations, for example tension, boredom, loneliness can all trigger a lip biting episode. And like any behavior it can come to feel strangely satisfying after a while, even though it hurts!
This is because your brain learns to set up expectation, the biting happens and that expectation is fulfilled – just like the expectation fulfillment mechanism that occurs when an addict gets their fix!
Lip biting is destructive and damages face tissue and teeth as much as it does the lips themselves. So any satisfactions derived from lip biting are of course outweighed by the damage done.
How hypnosis can help your lips!
So how do you stop biting your lips if you don’t know you’re doing it?
This is where hypnosis comes in. Hypnosis is the perfect tool for changing unconscious behavior. That is, things you do without noticing.
The Stop Lip Biting download will help you relax deeply and comfortably and then gently re-educate your mind to stop the unwanted behavior.
You will enjoy deep, peaceful relaxation where you will still be aware of what is going on, and the hypnosis session will re-educate your unconscious mind to express itself in a less damaging way.
Download Stop Lip Biting now and look forward to enjoying healthy attractive lips again. You can listen on your computer or device or via our free app which you can access when you have completed your purchase.
Can’t stop gnawing on the inside skin of your mouth? Cheek biting, similar to nail biting, is a stress-related habit that stems from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder and if left untreated, can lead to serious health concerns.
We speak to dental surgeon Dr Richard Marques about the common causes and potential health implications of cheek biting:
What is cheek biting?
Cheek biting, also known as morsicatio buccarum, is a chronic condition characterised by repetitively biting the inside of the mouth. It is a self-injurious habit, which can be undertaken either accidentally or repeatedly on purpose, and is considered a mental health disorder if it interferes with your quality of life or causes serious injury or distress.
‘Cheek biting is relatively common especially in urban cities, such as London, where stress levels tend to be higher,’ says Dr Marques. ‘However, severe cheek biting and habitual cheek biting are more rare.’
What triggers cheek biting?
Common triggers include stress, anxiety and boredom, and previous research suggests that body-focused repetitive behaviours such as this often begin in late childhood and can last throughout adulthood.
‘Sometimes it happens when people are grinding their teeth or eating,’ says Dr Marques. ‘Other times people chew their cheeks as a habit. Cheek biting is usually seen as lesions, which appear as white patches, on the inside of the cheeks that corresponds with the area where the teeth meet. It can also affect the lips and tongue, although the cheeks are the most common.’
When is cheek biting a problem?
Cases of cheek biting vary in severity, from one-off occurrences to deep and painful self-inflicted injuries. The primary consequence of biting the inside of the cheek repeatedly is injury to your mouth tissue, which can lead to mouth sores and ulcers.
Often, cheek biters have a favourite area to nibble away at, meaning that they repetitively break the skin in the same place inside the mouth.
Cheek biting varies in severity, from one-off occurrences to deep and painful self-inflicted injuries.
In severe cases, the broken and jagged sensation of the bitten skin creates an additional compulsion to ‘smooth out’ the affected area by biting again, perpetuating the habit.
‘Pain and ulcers are the most harmless outcomes,’ says Dr Marques. ‘However ulcers can cause problems, as they are liable to get bitten again once formed.’
Can cheek biting cause oral cancer?
While there is research that links mouth lesions with mouth cancer, it is lacking and non-specific to cheek biting. However, long-standing wounds – present in persistent cheek-biters – are cited by the NHS as potential causes of oral cancer, as they cause ulcers or wounds on the tongue.
‘Deep and repeated cheek biting is the most dangerous,’ explains Dr Marques, ‘as this can cause the problems in the buccal mucosa that may, in the worst and extremely rare instances, lead to increased risk of oral cancer due to changes in the cheek tissue, which can eventually result in changes to the cells.’
How to stop cheek biting
If you find yourself persistently biting the inside of your mouth, you might benefit from a bite-guard. Ask your dentist for advice.
‘If grinding is the issue then a bite-guard worn during the night, or even during the day, can help to stop the trauma on the cheeks,’ advises Dr Marques. ‘This is a semi-rigid device that prevents the teeth grinding on each other and also covers the sharp areas of the cusps; the biting surface.’
Stress and cheek biting
If it’s stress-related or an obsessive-compulsive issue, then you might benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
To minimise the damage done by cheek biting, give the following tips a go and see if they help:
• Identify your triggers
Find yourself chewing away when you have a looming deadline or presentation? Once you know what sets you off, you can find something else to chew on, the most obvious choice being gum.
• Use lip balm
Similarly, if it is a lip-biting problem, applying lip gloss / lip balm may help you abstain, or at least make you realise what you are doing.
Lower your stress levels and provide alternative, healthy anxiety solutions such as regular exercise and meditation.
• Try hypnotherapy
In some instances, hypnosis has been found to help with obsessive-compulsive habits. Find a hypnotherapist through the Professional Standards Authority.
Last updated: 30-10-19
Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) Dr Juliet McGrattan Dr Juliet McGrattan spent 16 years as a GP, two years as a Clinical Champion for Physical Activity for Public Health England and is the Women’s Health Lead for the 261 Fearless global running network. Her award winning book, Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.
Are Lip & Cheek Biting Actually Bad for You?
You know the feeling. You’re happily chewing away on your lunch, talking with a coworker when all of a sudden, you hear a crunch. You feel the pain. You realize you’ve just bit your cheek (or lip, or tongue — doesn’t really matter, it all hurts!). This painful accident can be an ongoing problem for many. At our dental office in Sparks, chronic biting of any tissues in the mouth can be concerning. Let’s look at why.
Why is it Bad?
Besides the obvious reason of it hurts, there are a few additional concerns of biting the lips and cheeks. Following a bite, usually a sore appears and lasts a few days. While this isn’t concerning for the occasional nip, if biting is an ongoing problem, sores can become infected. Any infection in the mouth is concerning itself, especially if left untreated.
Why Do We Do it?
Like we’ve previously mentioned, most of the time a bite is accidental and only happens occasionally. If this is the case, there’s probably no reason to be worried. However, when lip or cheek biting becomes a chronic thing, there are a few possible explanations. Most commonly, constant biting is a nervous habit or even done out of boredom, like biting your nails. Other times, there’s an anatomical explanation. If bites are a recurring thing and it’s not because of nervousness, there’s a possibility malocclusion, or a bad bite, is causing the trouble. When the teeth don’t close together neatly, the chance of a cheek or lip getting in between them is high. Additionally, malocclusion can lead to its own problems like headaches, jaw pain, TMJ (temporomandibular disorder), and shifting teeth.
How To Stop
You don’t have to continue to live with the pain and annoyance of constant biting. Try following the tips below:
- Know your triggers. If your lip or cheek biting is a result of stress or nerves as opposed to a bad bite, start paying attention to when you’re doing it and work to either avoid those triggers or work to consciously stop yourself when the trigger is unavoidable.
- Enlist the help of friends. There’s a chance you bite more often than you realize, so ask friends to point out when you’re doing it so you can work to stop it.
- Visit your dentist. If your biting isn’t habitual and your alignment may be an issue, talk with your dentist in Sparks.
Don’t have a dentist to talk to? Give our Sparks dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to help, no matter what your concern may be.
How to stop anxious lip biting
Treatments for lip biting differ depending on the cause. It is possible to treat physical causes such as dental problems by resolving the underlying issue. When lip biting has a psychological cause, many people benefit from counseling or behavioral therapies.
Treatments for lip biting as a BFRB include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Share on PinterestCBT may a recommended treatment for lip biting.
People with BFRBs or tics may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The TLC Foundation for BFRBs recommend CBT as an effective treatment.
CBT is a step-by-step approach that focuses on changing specific behaviors by identifying their causes.
It also teaches skills that help a person change their behavior and thoughts going forward.
Habit reversal training (HRT)
Habit reversal training (HRT) is one type of CBT. It is especially effective for BFRBs and tics.
There are three key steps in HRT therapy:
- doing awareness training, so that people notice their habit when it arises
- creating a competing response, which is a different action a person can do when they feel the urge to bite their lip
- providing social support, which can be vital for helping a person overcome anxious habits
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is another option for treating BFRBs, including lip biting. People with BFRBs may need help regulating emotions such as anxiety. This therapy may be useful for treating the causes behind body-focused behaviors.
The four aspects of DBT are:
- distress tolerance
- emotion regulation
- interpersonal effectiveness
Other behavioral therapies that can treat BFRBs include acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and the Comprehensive Behavioral Model of Treatment (ComB). These are both relatively new and more research is necessary to confirm their effectiveness.
The general opinion is that CBT and HRT therapy are both more effective than medication for BFRBs. There are currently no specific medications to treat BFRBs.
However, some individuals may achieve relief by taking antidepressant and anti-obsessive medications, such as clomipramine or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Medication may be useful for those who engage in BFRBs and also suffer from anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Study: 94% Probability Biting Lip Once Will Result In Second Bite In Same F**king Spot
Dec 14, 2016 · 2 min read YeeeOww! Millions have found out that Bite Puncture Syndrome is no joke.
You’ve done it a dozen times — bit into a crisp apple and taken part of your lip, tongue or cheek with it. Then, seconds later, you do it again… in exactly the same spot!
Dentists say that eating celery and other hard snacks is asking for trouble, as they require higher bite pressure reducing bite control and increasing the chance of a bloody lip.
Well, you’ll be glad to know that you’re not alone. According to dental researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, nearly 100% of adult Americans accidentally bite down on mouth tissue severely enough to require medical treatment each year. And this common occurrence even has a name — Bite Puncture Syndrome or BPS.
A recent study at MGH concluded that not only do most people suffer unintentional bites to their lips, cheeks, or tongues, but there’s a 94% probability they’ll do it again within seconds and hit the same damn spot. These nips to sensitive mouth tissue can cause severe pain lasting from several minutes to an hour, draw blood, and lead to swelling at the wound site effectively treated with ice.
World-renowned oral surgeon, Dr. Raymond Sistel, became interested in BPS after carelessly puncturing his own lip while eating a hard pretzel.
“For years patients have come in wondering if it’s just them or does everyone bite the inside of their mouths while eating,” said Dr. Donald Sistel, an oral surgeon at MGH who initiated the study. “Many are relieved to learn that it’s not just careless idiots like themselves who can’t control their bite, lopping off pieces of their own mouths — nearly everyone does it at some time or another.”
Dr. Sistel has a few simple suggestions for avoiding BPS. First, don’t talk while chewing. Second, avoid hard, crisp foods that require increased bite pressure, reducing bite control and interfering with bite alignment. Third, if you do puncture the inside of your mouth, don’t just keep eating like a vulgar slob — stop, swallow, rest, then bite again.
If you enjoyed what you just read, please tap the heart button to recommend it. And follow me if you’d like a daily dose of warped humor. Thanks — AI
Can Chewing Your Lip Cause Cancer?
Beauties, we’ve already discussed nail and cuticle biting, but did you know there is another nervous nibbling habit? Lip and cheek biting. Gnawing on the inside of the cheeks is more common than you’d think. From accidental to chronic, there are a variety of reasons why biting can occur. So we chatted with Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S., to find out the dangers of this bad beauty habit—and how to stop!
As a top New York City-based cosmetic dentist, Dr. Connelly sees a lot of cheek biting. “Cheek biting is the chewing of one’s inner mouth, which sometimes can include lips and tongue,” says Dr. Connelly. “There are several causes of cheek biting, but sometimes it’s simply accidental.” Ever try to chat while eating and end up nipping your lip or cheek? That careless—and often painful!—mishap is what he is talking about. Dr. Connelly says another reason for cheek noshing is misalignment. When your teeth aren’t in the correct position, it can lead to chronic cheek chewing, which can be problematic. A lot of the time, the compulsive habit is just “nervous lip and cheek biting that’s akin to biting one’s nails,” he says.
And just how harmful is this nibbling? “Biting one’s cheeks often leaves sores, which can be dangerous if they get infected,” says Dr. Connelly. That is in extreme cases. Most of the time, “chronic soreness is probably the most harm,” he says. This discomfort is similar to when you bite your nails down too close to the skin. Not to mention, an open lesion will burn when you eat acidic, salty, or spicy foods, making daily munching a painful experience. Dr. Connelly also explains that while he has heard of mouth lesions sometimes being a cause of oral cancer, he doesn’t believe that any studies have proven that cheek biters may be more susceptible to cancer. “Any chronic mouth lesion could develop cancer over the long term, but the research and final word are spotty.”
Fixing this habit involves techniques similar to those used to cure nail biting. “The solution may be some kind of substitute or training that eliminates the habit,” says Dr. Connelly. “Try chewing sugarless gum to keep your mouth busy. Or if you are a lip biter, opt for a flavored lip balm or gloss. The taste will make you aware every time you chomp down.” The good news: Just like your fingertips, “once you stop biting, your mouth will heal itself,” assures Dr. Connelly.