It has happened to everyone. One moment you are noshing on a delicious bit of seared and spicy barbecue or crunching into a cool, delicious dill pickle(it’s always something acidic) and then it hits you. A cold, sharp sensation that quickly develops into a taste of blood and either a rush for the mirror or, at the very least, some frantic tongue-probing on the inside of your cheek to see how much of it is left. Biting the inside of cheek tissue SUCKS. Most people would rather a visit from the mother-in-law than a vicious cheek biting(notice we said ‘the mother-in-law and not ‘their mother in law. We are not only informative, but also wise.).
So what can you do to stop those teeth from gnashing and viciously biting the inside of mouth tissue? Also, why does it always happen with something spicy? We can help you with the first question but for the second, your guess is as good as ours. Chalk that one up to something to ask in the afterlife or after reaching meditative enlightenment. That said, let’s discuss first the issue of WHY you might be biting your cheek in the first place and then we will smoothly segue into the types of biting that you might be practicing against your will, followed by some stellar and sensible methods to save the inside of your mouth from a fate worse than ‘the’ mother-in-law.
Why am I biting my cheek?
Why, why, why. When you were young, the answer you gave your friends was generally ‘because’ and
‘because because’, while your parents were satisfied with ‘because I said so.’. As an Adult, we need a little more in the way of answers. Thankfully, that’s what we are here to provide. The three primary sources of Cheek biting are as follows:
- With compulsive biting, or BFRD(more on that later) it is generally based on an obsession with an uneven texture in the mouth.
- Grinding ones teeth(most commonly during sleep)
“ Cheek biting, known in Latin-loving medical circles as moricatio buccarum when it’s compulsive, manifests in a variety of ways.”
What are the different types of cheek biting?
Here is that smooth segue that we promised. Just as everything else comes in types(blood types, dating types, typist types… nyuk nyuk!), cheek biting, known in Latin-loving medical circles as morsicatio buccarum when it’s compulsive, manifests in a variety of ways. From mild to middling to completely wicked, here are the primary types of cheek chomping and a little blurb about each. We’ll leave out accidental biting because that’s probably just karma and there is nothing we can do about it. Here are the four primary types of Cheek biting:
Types of Cheek Biting
- Sleep biting – A nasty way to wake up, this is actually quite treatable as we will describe later in this article.
- Habitual Biting– Rather like chewing your nails, some people find themselves chewing at their cheeks while they work and as long as they are careful it doesn’t result in the kind of wounds that an accidental bite can cause.
- BFRD – Also known as Body-Focused Repetitive Disorder, this is an obsessive-compulsive scenario where the one suffering wishes desperately to stop biting their cheeks but they simply can’t.
- FAB – Frequent accidental biting. While not an official acronym(but we think it should be!), this is a real problem faced by a number of people today.
So, how do I deal with biting the inside of my cheek?
Now that we have defined the ‘Fearsome Four’, how do we deal with them? There are a few tried and true methods for getting rid of(or at least minimizing) cheek biting. Now that we know the types, let’s discuss a little about the treatments. First, for sleep biting you will be happy to know that your Dentist can actually fit you with a mouth guard for cheek biting. All you have to do with it is slip it in when it is siesta time and you won’t have to worry about sleep-shaving the insides of your cheeks. So what about habitual biting? This is something that a percentage of cheek biting sufferers do without thinking. It’s a habit and like all bad habits, you can replace it with a good one. Try taking a hard candy(sugar free if you are watching your figure) like a jawbreaker or a lollipop that you can lodge on the inner side of the cheek that you like to chew so as to fill the need in a way that won’t abrade or potentially cause lesions over time as the chewing might.
Next we come to number three, BFRD. Often recommended for this are such tactics as chewing some sugar-free gum or making mindful distractions that can cause you to mentally pause so that you can avoid the compulsion in those precious seconds bought by your mindset hacking. Examples:
- Putting a rubber band on your wrist to snap when you catch yourself getting ready to take a bite.
- Pausing for a 3-3-3 breath(breathe in for 3 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds, and breathe out for 3 seconds. It sounds simple but it produces a nice clarity and it doesn’t sting like that nasty rubber band.
- Keeping a notepad nearby and telling yourself that you are allowed to bite whenever you want but that you have to note the date and time and add your signature. This seems silly but it works. Forcing yourself to pause is kryptonite for compulsions.
Lastly, what about FAB? Frequent accidental biting can often be a matter of misalignment with your teeth. Your Dentist can generally take care of that with braces or other options but if you really hate the Dentist you might be able to purchase a mouth guard commercially through a reputable vendor.
Now that we have discussed cheek biting you may be wondering how to stop biting lips to bits. If enough of you ask, we might write up ‘how to stop biting your lips’ for those of you biting inside of lip tissue that are looking for relief. Until then, we must bid you adieu!