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Why do I keep biting my cheek?

Oct 30, 2023Oral health

Why do I keep biting my cheek?

Cheek biting is a phenomenon that is surprisingly common, with people sometimes engaging in it accidentally or unknowingly. Unfortunately, this can cause discomfort and in some cases may be indicative of an underlying mental health concern. It is possible that biting your cheek could be indicative of dental issues that need to be addressed. It is recommended that a doctor be consulted in order to determine the cause for this behavior.

Numerous factors can lead to biting the inside of one’s cheek. Potential causes include:

  • Lack of attention: Distraction while engaging in activities, such as reading a book or watching television during meals, may lead to biting your cheek without being aware of it.
  • Accidental biting: Eating too quickly, engaging in conversation while consuming food, or being involved in a physical altercation or accident can all lead to individuals biting their own cheeks.
  • Depression or anxiety-related biting: Many individuals may habitually bite the inside of their cheeks as a response to feelings of stress, anxiousness, or depression, in the same manner that nail-biting is often used a coping mechanism.
  • Tooth deflection in the dental arch: An incorrect alignment of wisdom teeth, other molars or premolars, the presence of inadequately designed, or constructed crowns can lead to the formation of lesions on the cheek.
  • Psychological-related biting: Chronic cheek biting, otherwise known as morsicatio buccarum, is a compulsive behavior characterized by recurrent biting of the inner cheeks. BFRB, or Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour, can manifest in a variety of ways, including biting one’s cheek. In some cases, the affected individual may not be aware of this practice.

 

Damage Caused by Cheek Biting

Occasionally, accidental cheek bites can lead to the formation of canker sores, though they do not typically require much attention. It is possible that some discomfort may be felt for a few days after the incident, yet this should subside in time.

Ongoing cheek biting can lead to redness, painful sores, and tears in the mucosa of the mouth. In cases concerning Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), this behavior can also induce strong feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness, or cause individuals to avoid social interaction in order to hide the issue.

 

How Can You Stop Biting Your Cheeks?

If you have been engaging in the habit of biting the inside of your mouth while chewing or speaking, it is highly recommended that you book an appointment with your dentist. If you have a wisdom tooth or another tooth that is causing lesions in your cheek, your dentist may recommend braces or an extraction to properly align your teeth.

Cheek biting may be associated with stress, and consulting a physician or psychologist may be beneficial. Implementing breathwork exercises and relaxation techniques may help reduce and prevent occurrences of inner cheek biting. In the event that cheek biting is related to (BFRD), multi-faceted treatment approaches should be considered. A psychologist may suggest keeping a record of the cheek biting behavior, noting any triggers, in order to gain a better understanding of the issue. To discourage this action, one could suggest replacing the behavior with a healthier alternative such as chewing gum. In addition, seeking emotional support and understanding the emotions involved in this behavior is also essential. Seeking assistance from a psychologist can be helpful in this process.

It is important to consult with a physician or dentist if you have noticed an increase in the frequency of cheek-biting. These healthcare professionals can create a treatment plan that not only remedies the problem but also helps provide emotional support.

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