Lip biting causes, effects on oral health and how to treat it

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Have you ever found yourself biting your lips when anxious or stressed or seen others do it? While lip biting may seem harmless, which it is for most, for some, it may turn out to be rather harmful in the long run. This habit is compulsive, one that is part of muscle memory and is often resorted to unintentionally. But this habit can prove to be harmful to your dental and oral hygiene.

How can lip biting be harmful?

Lip biting, if not addressed early on, can lead to a habit that is difficult to break as it becomes an action so rooted that a person may not even be aware that they are biting their lip. More often than not, it is a coping mechanism when under stress or anxiety.2

Here are the areas that get affected when you are biting your lips:

  • It can lead to redness, and painful sores and blisters on the lips.

  • Apart from your lips, your dental health too is plagued due to this habit. Your jaw muscles are impacted when you bite your lip because you need to move your jaw ahead in an unnatural position. When you do this multiple times, day in and day out, it could lead to a condition known as TMJ disorder. The temporomandibular joint disorder impacts the muscles of your jaw joint and can be quite painful3.

  • Lastly, biting your lip when eating can lead to you biting your tongue. Any open sores or cuts inside your mouth makes it more susceptible to infections. It is therefore important to always maintain oral hygiene in the best way you can by flossing. Opt for Oral-B’s Essential Mint Dental Floss to regularly floss your teeth to remove plaque and any leftover food particles stuck between your teeth. This will help reduce the chances of unwanted bacterial growth.

Causes of lip biting

Since this is such a temperamental habit that could be formed due to a physical or psychological reason, we’ve broadly classified the causes of biting your lip into two categories, namely physical and psychological.

Physical causes:

  1. Misalignment of teeth can cause you to bite your lip, and tongue as well. Additionally, misaligned teeth are tough to clean as there are certain crevices formed which make it difficult for you to reach. Try Oral-B’s Vitality Series electric toothbrush with 2D technology that oscillates and rotates between your teeth to reach into even unreachable areas and remove plaque. It comes with an embedded two-minute timer for longer brushing time, providing a comprehensive and thorough cleaning.

  2. If you’re diagnosed with TMJ disorder, it affects your jaw muscles and can cause you to bite your lip even when you don’t intend to.

Psychological causes

  1. It could be due to body-focused repetitive behaviour, or BFRB. It is a self-directed behaviour wherein you damage your skin, hair or nails.

  2. It could have begun as a way of coping with stressful situations or when you’re anxious, which took off and formed a chronic habit.

Treatment for lip biting4

The way ahead with treating chronic lip biting depends on what the cause for it is. Physical causes can usually be treated by resolving dental problems such as misalignment of teeth etc. In the case of psychological causes, therapy and counselling are excellent ways to cope with it and possibly break the habit.

Here are some tips that may help you manage your lip biting habit:

  • Relaxation practices such as meditation, etc.

  • Counselling

  • Acupuncture

  • Jaw exercises

  • Chewing gum as a temporary replacement behaviour

If you bite your lip occasionally, it is quite harmless and you need not worry about it. However, if this grows into a habit that you can’t control, then medical intervention is required and you must consult a dentist.