Home Personal Wellness Why Do I Keep Biting My Tongue

Why Do I Keep Biting My Tongue

by Kristin Beck
Why Do I Keep Biting My Tongue

Why Do I Keep Biting My Tongue

“You’re sitting in class, minding your own business when all of sudden you bite down hard on your lower lip. A few seconds later, you feel like an idiot because it hurt! Why do some people bite their lips? And why does it happen so frequently?
It could be as simple as biting your fingernails or chewing gum. But for most people, it happens only occasionally and doesn’t cause much damage. For others, though, it’s a constant habit — one they can’t seem to break. The problem with this latter group is that there are usually no obvious signs that anything is wrong. In fact, if you haven’t been diagnosed with a medical condition, you might not even realize what’s causing the behavior.
Biting the inside of your cheek (frenulum) or the back of your tongue (posterior lingual artery) is called frenzied or habitual tongue-biting. This type of tongue biting occurs mostly among women who have strong emotional reactions to pain. They tend to bite more intensely than men do and without any clear reason. Women who don’t exhibit this particular symptom but just want relief from a headache or toothache may benefit from medications such as aspirin or acetaminophen [sources: Mayo Clinic; WebMD].
The good news is that you can stop this annoying habit, at least temporarily, through proper dental care. If you’ve got a cavity, gums that bleed easily or a sore throat, your dentist may recommend wearing a custom-made mouthpiece made specifically for this purpose. There are many different types available, ranging anywhere from $30 to hundreds of dollars, depending on how well your dentist likes the idea of covering your teeth. Most cover only certain teeth and use a soft material to fill up spaces between them.
If you don’t want to shell out several hundred bucks on a device that will likely go unused after a couple of days, then try talking yourself into stopping the bad habit with positive words instead. As soon as you start feeling anxious or angry, tell yourself to quit biting until things calm down. Eventually, you’ll need to address whatever issue triggered the urge to bite in the first place. Once you know where the problem originates, you can work toward resolving it.
Read on for more information about why we sometimes bite our tongues.
Causes of Tongue-Biting Habits
Your tongue has a lot to offer besides being used as a tool for eating. It helps you form words, taste food, provide protection for your teeth, help you breathe and keep your speech smooth. So it makes sense that when something goes awry, your tongue would step in to take over. Unfortunately, it sometimes ends up doing harm rather than good.
People who engage in frenzied tongue-biting habits typically have problems controlling their emotions. When something triggers anger, anxiety or other negative feelings, they automatically begin to bite their tongue. Even if the impulse comes from nowhere, many experts believe it stems from psychological issues surrounding the event. Whatever the cause may be, these individuals are unable to control themselves once their mouths get going.
Because this kind of tongue-biting is often associated with mental health disorders, it’s important that you consult a professional to determine whether you actually have a problem. However, if you suspect a physical cause for your symptoms, here are some possibilities:
Dental Problems

Psychological Issues

Stress Management

One possible source of tongue-biting is a misalignment of your upper and lower teeth. Sometimes when two front teeth meet, they create a space that can become uncomfortable if left unfilled. Tooth decay can develop behind the gap, which can lead to abscesses and infections. To prevent this scenario from happening, make sure that both sets of teeth are properly aligned.
Tongue-biting is often related to psychological distress. People who struggle with depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are prone to this destructive habit. Many sufferers find comfort in biting their tongues because it relieves tension and reduces frustration, fear and worry. Others may experience panic attacks, headaches and migraines, or stomachaches while engaged in this activity.
Many people turn to biting their tongues when stressed because it feels familiar and comfortable. Some people report that they bite harder when upset than they do when happy. Stressful situations trigger automatic responses that aren’t always appropriate. If you suffer from chronic stress, you should learn relaxation techniques that can reduce the amount of time you spend biting your tongue.
Certain drugs can contribute to tongue-biting behaviors. Alcoholics are especially vulnerable to this problem because alcohol causes constriction in blood vessels, making the tongue dryer and thus more difficult to bite. Drugs such as amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and cocaine are known to produce similar effects. Talk to your physician immediately if you notice this side effect.
Brushing too vigorously can injure your gums just as easily as brushing too lightly. Overbrushing can irritate the sensitive areas around your gums and teeth, whereas underbrushing leaves pockets full of bacteria underneath your teeth. Try using a softer brush to massage away plaque and soften your gums. Be careful about brushing too close to your gums, since this can result in bleeding. Also avoid brushing within 30 minutes before and after meals.
Poison ivy and hemorrhagic fever (hemotrophic lymphadenopathy) are conditions that cause extreme irritation and inflammation. Irritation from poison ivy spreads quickly across the face, neck and chest. After contact, skin becomes red, hot and swollen. Swelling and discomfort increase dramatically during the night, and patients complain of intense itching that never stops.
Hemorrhagic fever is transmitted via tick bites, insect bites or exposure to contaminated fluids. An infected person appears lethargic and develops a rash followed by severe nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. He or she eventually dies of complications from organ failure.
While research isn’t conclusive, some studies indicate that self-mutilation can serve as a means of suicide prevention. One theory suggests that people who cut themselves are trying to release pent-up energy. By harming themselves, they feel less trapped by thoughts and emotions. Self-harm is another way to deal with painful memories. Cutting, burning or banging oneself against objects produces immediate pain, which may help distract someone from suicidal thoughts.
To learn more about treating oral injuries and disorders, please see the next page.
Oral injury is defined as damage sustained to teeth, gums and/or bones of the jaw. These injuries can occur due to accidents, poor diet, neglect, disease and trauma. Symptoms include persistent swelling, severe sensitivity, loose teeth, open sores, abscessed teeth, infection, cysts and tumors. Severe cases require emergency treatment.
Treatment Options for Oral Injury and Disorder
When you sustain serious oral injury, you won’t just lose your smile. Losing teeth, bone or tissue can severely compromise your ability to eat, speak and enjoy life. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options for dealing with oral injuries. Here, we’ll look at two of them.
First, let’s consider root canal therapy. While it sounds scary, it’s actually quite safe. During this procedure, a trained specialist removes damaged nerves and tissues deep inside the tooth. Root canal therapy prevents further nerve deterioration, allowing injured teeth to heal.
Second, let’s discuss temporary filling materials. Temporary filling refers to replacement of decayed teeth or cracked teeth with artificial materials called “”temps”” that last anywhere from three months to two years. Temps come in a variety of forms, including crowns, caps, liners and bridges. After choosing your preferred temp, a licensed dentist will apply a mixture of gold, silver, mercury and zinc to your chipped or broken tooth. This process allows doctors to choose the best temp for each individual case.
Temporary filling materials can withstand moderate levels of pressure and impact. Because temps vary according to the severity of the crack, it’s critical that dentists inspect cracks thoroughly before applying temps. If you’re working with metal fragments, temps can cause additional damage. Metal temps are designed to fit together snugly and protect fractured surfaces. They’re also coated with precious metals to shield against corrosion.
For more detailed information on treating oral injuries, please visit the links on the following page.
Root canal therapy involves removing infected pulp within a tooth and sealing the remaining hole. Removing the infected area eliminates bacterial growth, and sealing the opening prevents reentry. Infection can extend below the gum line and spread throughout the body. Patients must receive root canal therapy within 24 hours of experiencing pain or noticing any unusual symptoms such as tingling, numbness or tenderness.”

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