How To Stop Cheek Biting

25th Jul 2020

How To Stop Cheek Biting

Chronic cheek biting, also known as morsicatio buccarum, is a body focused repetitive behavior (BFRB). Like other BFRBs, cheek biting is a habit that has many potential causes. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) categorizes it as an obsessive compulsive disorder. Biting the inside of the cheek may seem harmless, but this repetitive action can actually be harmful to your oral health as well as your mental health. So, why do people engage in this behavior? What are the side effects of cheek biting? And most importantly, how do you stop cheek biting or better said how to stop biting the inside of your cheeks?

How To Stop Cheek Biting

WHY DO PEOPLE BITE THE INSIDE OF THEIR CHEEKS?

Mental health plays a large role in habitual cheek biting. Usually, cheek biting is a nervous habit brought on by psychological causes such as stress, boredom, or emotional overload. It is categorized as an obsessive compulsive behavior similar to:

  • Nail biting
  • Hair pulling
  • Skin picking
  • Lip biting

Cheek biting can also be brought on from assorted dental problems. Some examples include:

  • Misalignment of the teeth
  • Bruxism
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)
  • An ill-fitting dental device (mouth guard, splint, retainer, etc.)

According to Medical News Today, “Some researchers think that body-focused repetitive behaviors may have a genetic factor… Researchers are currently trying to determine which genes may play a role in body-focused repetitive behaviors, which may help doctors diagnose and treat these behaviors in the future”. Further research is necessary to truly understand all of the behavioral and emotional causes of cheek biting.

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how to stop biting inside of cheek

SIDE EFFECTS OF CHEEK BITING

Cheek biting can have negative effects on your oral and mental health. Biting the inside of the cheek repetitively is a bad habit which can cause the skin of your inner cheek to thicken, scar, and become pale in color over time. Additionally, purple inflamed spots, mouth lesions, and mouth sores may develop on the inside of the mouth. Some studies have revealed that mouth lesions can potentially put you at higher risk for oral cancer. However, more research is necessary to confirm these studies. In more severe cases, there may even be eroded tissue in the cheeks.

Because cheek chewing is so closely related to mental health and is classified as a self-injurious behavior, it has mental repercussions as well. Many people who chronically bite the insides of their cheeks experience feelings of guilt and shame.

how to stop biting your cheek

HOW TO STOP CHEEK BITING

Fortunately, there are multiple ways to stop this repetitive behavior. The TLC Foundation recommends that you begin to track the behavior as soon as you notice it. This way, you can attempt to identify the event that may be causing you to bite your cheek.

Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy can help put a stop to cheek chewing. This approach aims to change thinking and behavioral patterns. CBT is used to treat many conditions “such as depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness”. CBT works for obsessive compulsive disorders such as cheek biting by identifying the distress which causes biting inside of the cheek and putting an end to the ritualistic behavior.

Some cheek biters have found success using hypnotherapy as well. Hypnosis has also been used to treat other dental problems such as bruxism. In some cases, breath work and relaxation exercises may help to soothe the distress that triggers cheek biting. Because cheek biting is an effort to soothe, doctors recommend finding a habit to replace cheek biting such as chewing gum.

Your health provider may recommend a mouth guard as a solution to cheek biting. Mouth guards are used to prevent people from grinding their teeth, clenching their jaw, biting their tongue and cheeks, and more. When placed between the top and bottom teeth, this device prevents these harmful habits and protects your teeth, jaw, and the inside of your mouth from painful side effects.

If your cheek biting habit is caused by a dental problem, a dentist will be able to work with you to find a solution. If it is a result of psychological factors, a mental health professional will most likely be the best resource for finding best treatment options.

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PUTTING AN END TO CHEEK BITING

Cheek biting or cheek chewing is a bad habit that can lead to negative physical and psychological side effects. Some cheek biters may be able to quit on their own by identifying and avoiding their triggers. Fortunately, effective treatments are available. Dentists and mental health professionals can assist cheek biters in finding the best solution.

Identifying the reasons behind chronic cheek biting and choosing treatments that address them is vital for your success. If a mouthguard is recommended, be sure to check out our selection at Pro Teeth Guard. We offer a variety of custom-fitted mouthguards of the highest quality at affordable prices.

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