We've all been there. A misplaced bite during a meal, a fall, or a response to stress, and suddenly you've bitten down hard your cheek, tongue, or lips. In most cases it's simply an annoying accident, but there are times when it's actually a sign of a more serious problem. Don't worry, whether there's a reason for your cheek biting or not, there are treatments before and after to help keep your mouth healthy and pain-free.
Why Does Cheek Biting Happen?
There are a few reasons why people bite their cheeks and other areas inside the mouth, like the tongue and inside of the lips. Of course, the most common reason is by accident. You're trying to bite down on some food, but your cheek, tongue or lips get in the way and you bite them instead.
However, if you bite your cheeks or other areas inside your mouth on a regular basis, there might be a reason. For example, if you have misaligned teeth, it can be fairly easily to bite down on the cheek, lips or tongue since the teeth don't come together evenly.
Chronic cheek biting, also called morsicatio buccarum, can be triggered by psychological causes. Habitual biting of the cheeks is a type of body-focused repetitive disorder (BFRD). Other BFRDs include nail biting, hair pulling and skin picking, says The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.
When a person has a BFRD, they feel a compulsion to repeatedly engage in an activity that damages their appearance or causes physical injury. In some cases, a person might not even be aware of what they're doing.
Chewing on the inside of the cheek might help a person feel calmer during times of stress or anxiety or be triggered by boredom. Sometimes, a person with a BFRD might start biting the inside of their cheek because they notice a bump or uneven texture. They might chew in an attempt to remove the bump or smooth out the rough patch, even though the act of biting does more harm than good.