Cheek biting might seem a minor inconvenience, but it might indicate increasing mental health and anxiety problems.
Read on if you've been asking yourself, why do I keep biting my cheek? The habit is rather painful and often difficult to stop. While one might feel it is a slight inconvenience and harmless, researchers have indicated a different side to this habit. Cheek bites can happen in sleep or while eating, which often results in mouth ulcers. Some studies state a link between cheek biting and mental health issues.1 The mental health condition can be Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition where uncontrolled thoughts result in recurring behavior.
What Are the Main Causes for Cheek Bites?
Research indicates there can be several causes for cheek bites.
- Distracted chewing
- Misaligned teeth
- Mental health-related cheek biting
- Accidental cheek biting
- Psychological cheek biting (OCD)
- Biting cheek in sleep
- Wisdom teeth cheek bites
Are You Biting Your Cheek in Sleep?
Cheek biting in sleep is unintentional and usually seen among children. Pediatric dentists provide a soft guard for children, which they can place in their mouths before sleeping. But in recent times, doctors are trying to understand the reason underlying the unintentional cheek biting in sleep.2 They are even suggesting relaxation techniques and counseling to overcome this habit as it can intensify with time. If you are looking for accidentally biting inside of cheek treatment, there are several treatments you can use to stop it from happening.1
- It is advisable to chew your food slowly to avoid accidentally biting the inside of your cheeks.
- If the accidents happen regularly, there might be a possibility of misaligned teeth, and it is advisable to get them checked by a dentist.
Is Your Wisdom Teeth Biting Your Cheek?
Cases of wisdom teeth biting cheek mainly occur in adults. The growth of wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth can be painful, and its edges can cut the sides of the cheek. This type of cheek biting is not associated with any body-focused repetitive disorder (BFRD).4 The growth of wisdom teeth is involuntary. Therefore, there cannot be a complete elimination of the bites related to it. Although, dentists can prescribe medication to ease the pain.
Why Do I Keep Biting My Cheek When I Eat?
It is a common question among people, and the answer lies in their actions. Eating requires attention, and if there is some distraction, for example watching television, or using a phone, there is a high chance of cheek bites.1 Also, eating in a hurry or not chewing the food properly can cause cuts in the cheeks. Misaligned teeth can also play a part in causing cheek bites while eating. An orthodontist can help in setting the teeth in alignment to prevent such occurrences.
Is There Any Spiritual Meaning of Biting Cheek?
Some people believe there might be a spiritual meaning in biting the cheek. According to several case studies, there is a deeper meaning of biting the cheek regularly. It displays anxiety on a deeper level, which is treatable using relaxation techniques and therapy.2 The spiritual meaning is nothing but self-awareness to realize the body’s need to relax. Deep-rooted anxiety needs to be released for the body to recover and restrain from cheek biting.
Is Cheek Biting Harmful?
Cheek biting can be harmful if they happen regularly. Mouth sores or ulcers are common issues that are associated with cheek biting. The parts that get bitten often can get inflamed and cause pain.1 It can also lead to isolating oneself from society for fear of ridicule.3 That may further affect their mental well-being and can cause social isolation.
How to Stop Biting Your Cheek?
There are several treatments one can try to overcome cheek biting:
- Stress-relieving therapy: Therapy can help reduce the occurrence of cheek bites. It can also help understand the underlying cause for the same.
- Removable mouthguards: Prescribed by dentists, mouthguards are an effective way of reducing cheek biting in sleep.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): It is a combination of psychological and social techniques that serve as an intervention for regular cheek biting issues.5
- Habit Reversal Training: It is a therapy based on a wide range of repetitive behaviors that are modified using different techniques.
- Comprehensive Behavioral Treatment: This method solely focuses on BFRD and not its underlying reasons. The treatment aims to solve the behavior on its own.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: It is, as the name suggests, a type of psychotherapy based on acceptance and care.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT: This method surrounds evidence and is also useful in treating mood disorders and borderline personality disorder.6
There are also some home remedies one can try to stop cheek biting.
- Chewing gum can help treat cheek biting.
- Trying to relax and lower stress levels
- Meditation to lower anxiety
- Being mindful of your activities and the ones that trigger anxiety
Identify Your Kind of Cheek Bites
It is imperative to identify the kind of cheek bite for its effective treatment.
- If it is periodically accidental, then it is not a considerable concern.
- If it is regular yet accidental, then maybe your teeth are not aligned properly.
- If you bite your cheek while sleeping, then it is unintentional and is treatable using mouth guards.
- If you notice a persistent biting of the cheek, it is imperative to consult with a doctor. It can also be a body-focused repetitive disorder (BFRD).
Consult a Doctor
- If the cheek bites become regular but accidental, consulting a dentist would help find a cause and solution.
- If the cheek bites become severe, it might need urgent medical attention to identify the cause for such occurrences. (Consulting a doctor may answer your question: Why do I keep biting my cheek?)
It is important to find out the underlying cause for cheek biting for its treatment. Anxiety-driven cheek biting may not heal if it is not understood on a deeper level and just looked upon as a physical ailment. Support and help from the people surrounding the patient can also help treat cheek biting.
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