woman biting her cheek

Here’s Why You Keep Biting Your Cheek

Cheek biting is a real thing. Whether you do it on accident or without even knowing you’re doing it. It can be a painful act that could be a sign of something more serious than just an accidental bite down. Why you keep biting your cheek could indicate a number of things, including dental issues that should and need to be addressed.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common reasons for why you keep biting your cheek.

Accidental Biting

This is exactly what it says it is, an accidental cheek bite. You didn’t mean to, it happens on occasion, and, yes, it hurts. Occasional cheek biting is often a result of pure carelessness and usually because you’re trying to read or speak while you eat and chew.

If you’re eating something with a weird shape or texture, you can be more apt to bite your cheek accidentally, too.

Sometimes if you accidentally bite down on your cheek pretty hard, the inside of your cheek can develop a little swelling or raised area that makes it even more prone to being bit again. When this occurs, there is no reason for alarm or panic. Your cheek will heal, and you will completely forget about it once the swelling is gone.

Chronic Biting  

Cheek biting can be described as just another bad habit for some individuals. Just as many habitually chew on their nails, many repetitively chew on the insides of their cheeks. Stress and anxiety can leave many gnawing at the soft skin inside their mouth, leaving their cheeks hurting, irritated, and swollen. Most of the time, people do it mindlessly and out of boredom.

Habitual cheek biters often don’t even realize that they are doing it. You often see the twisted lips and contorted mouth when someone is chewing at their cheek. Cheek biting becomes more of a psychological problem than anything when this occurs. The medical term for the behavior is chronic cheek bite keratosis, which is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) similar to hair pulling, nail-biting, and frequent blinking.

Although it may seem harmless, habitual cheek biting can lead to some oral complications. Because most cheek biters tend to bite in the same spot over and over, damage to the mouth tissue can occur. The chewed and broken skin inside the mouth could potentially result in mouth sores or ulcers if it gets infected. Fortunately, this damage can be treated and reversed if biting is stopped.

Bad Bite Cheek Biting

If you find yourself accidentally biting your cheek over and over, or even while you’re sleeping, the culprit is probably malocclusion or misaligned teeth. It’s not an accident.

As you get older, your teeth tend to shift, which can alter their alignment. In addition, poorly fitted restorations, such as dental crowns or implants, can also result in misaligned teeth. This is due to changes made to the biting surface of your teeth.

When your teeth don’t align properly, it can lead to difficulty chewing. Your top and bottom teeth should fit perfectly together when you bite down. When they don’t, it is considered a bad bite and can cause you to bite your cheek frequently.  

People who frequently grind their teeth also commonly bite their cheeks. This typically occurs at night when you are not aware.

girl being fitted for aligner to keep her from biting her cheek

How to Stop Biting Your Cheek

Chronic cheek biting is a condition that requires medical attention. Body-focused repetitive behavior needs to be addressed to determine the cause of the behavior. If your cheek biting is due to BFRB, your dentist or primary care provider may recommend you see a therapist.

However, if you know you’re not biting your cheek due to a nervous or repetitive habit, you should speak to your dentist to discuss your teeth alignment. They can ensure that any restorations or implants are correctly placed so that they will remain properly aligned in your mouth.

Depending on the severity of your misalignment, your dentist may suggest you visit an orthodontist for further treatment. It may be as simple as getting braces or clear aligners to fix the misalignment.

If your biting is occurring at night due to grinding, you may be prescribed a mouthguard to wear. This not only protects the enamel on your teeth that’s often damaged from the grinding, but it will also protect the soft tissue of your cheek.

Protect Your Cheeks – Contact Your Dentist

Yes, cheek biting is usually an occasional harmless accident, but sometimes it’s not. If you’re constantly finding yourself chewing on your cheek for no apparent reason, contact your dentist today. Together you can discuss your options and get to the underlying cause.