Occasionally biting the cheek or tongue or lip is common and not a cause for concern.
We all accidentally bite our cheek from time to time and it heals on its own after a few days.
However, repetitive cheek biting can open a Pandora’s box of issues that can lead to complications down the road.
Getting an excessive cheek biting habit under control takes deliberate action. In this article, we’ll discuss some things you can do today to stop biting your cheek and prevent future damage.
Accidental Cheek Biting
Occasional and regular accidental cheek biting are two different things. Though they’re both accidental, if you’re regularly biting your cheek(s), you should consult with your dentist as this could mean an improper bite alignment or potential jaw issues.
Chronic Cheek Biting
Also known as morsicatio buccarum, is considered to be a body focused repetitive behavior. Other examples of BFRB include hair pulling, skin picking and nail biting.
Why am I biting my cheek all the time?
High levels of stress and anxiety
Biting the cheek can feel soothing and can seem like it’s relieving some of the stress or anxiety a person encounters. Sometimes an exchange of actions can help. For example, try chewing gum instead of chewing the cheek. Making a conscious effort to become aware of the action and replacing it for another action can be effective. Options include deep breathing exercises and pleasant mental imagery.
Reaction to social experiences
The emotional stress of being around people can cause a person to engage in activities that feel comforting in the moment. Becoming aware of yourself when you’re involved in a social situation and making a deliberate decision to stop in the moment is a big step toward a permanent solution.
OCD obsessions can cause chronic cheek biting. To counter this behavior, you could replace the action with a healthier ritual in place of biting the cheek. Consider seeking help from a licensed psychiatrist.
Many people are able to break OCD tendencies with the help of a professional.
Cheek Biting & Wisdom Teeth
Crowded wisdom teeth in the jaw can lean against the cheek. This can cause prolonged irritation to the cheek area, ulcers and chewing problems.
Some researchers believe that BFRB’s (body focused repetitive behaviors) are genetic. Perhaps passed down from other members of the family. Chronic cheek biting usually emerges in late childhood.
Jaw alignment issues
An uneven bite can cause reoccurring cheek biting. Your dentist will be able to diagnose an uneven bite or misaligned jaw.
When is cheek biting considered a mental health disorder?
- intention of self harm
- obsessive compulsion (cannot seem to stop on your own)
What are the dangers of cheek biting?
- deep and painful sores, scars and injuries
- eroding of the soft tissue
- psychological guilt or shame
- chronic irritation of the tissues can lead to oral cancer
What is the most effective way to stop biting my cheek?
- Wear upper and lower mouth guards. This breaks up the direct contact between the teeth and the cheek area. These guards are effective in allowing the damaged area(s) to heal on their own and prevent future damage from biting.
Begin your day with a 20-40 minute meditation. Do this practice consistently. Try not to skip a day. Listening to guided meditations at first can help your practice greatly. Once you become aware of your habit or possible reasons for your habit, you can begin to heal from within.
- Seek professional help
If you’re accidentally biting your cheek or you have upper wisdom teeth that continue to get in the way of biting, consult with your dentist for solutions. If your cheek biting is occurring because of excessive stress, social anxiety, OCD, or a BFRD reach out to a licensed therapist.
Whether you’re accidentally biting your cheek or chronically biting you cheek, we’re here to help!
Thank you for tuning in!