Lip-biting while eating.
January 9, 2016 2:06 AM   Subscribe

I bite my inner bottom lip while eating at least once a day. There's usually blood and I'm in the habit of blotting it with a napkin so I am sure of this. Why do I do this? How can I stop?

A bit about my teeth because it sort of feels like a dentist question: All my wisdom teeth are out. I grind my teeth loudly at night unless I wear a mouth guard. I had braces and head gear and rubber bands and retainers and the whole rigamarole so I think my bite is fine. I've been seeing a dentist every couple months for an unrelated issue (tooth implant) and she hasn't had anything but compliments about my teeth.

It's startling when it happens but doesn't hurt for long. But my inner bottom lip is a mass of sores that shouldn't be there.
posted by bendy to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Just to be clear, this is unintentionally biting your lip and only while eating right?

Could it be that the tissue is inflamed and swollen so that it makes accidentally biting again more likely? I've had problems like that, where one accidental bite to the inside of my cheek leads to a series of repeated incidents until I spend a month or two being excruciatingly meticulous and cautious about the way I chew, and it has a chance to heal.
posted by XMLicious at 2:21 AM on January 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

And actually, if you're saying that you had oral surgery at some point in the last few months, maybe the initial inflammation could have been caused by something related to that.
posted by XMLicious at 2:23 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This probably isn't going to sound like fun, but have you considered a week or so of eating only foods you don't need to chew? I get this issue sometimes, where I'll bite it once and then be totally unable to stop biting it every meal without paying 200% attention and sometimes even then. I once had to solve this by spending a couple of days living off smoothies and the like until the swelling went down enough that I could eat without re-biting it. If all else fails, that might be worth considering.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 2:51 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

How long has this been going on, did it start after you had the implant proceedure? Have you asked your dentist about this? If so, what did she say. And, I agree with the answers above, the swollen tissue is probably at least part of the problem, until that heals, this is likely to continue.
posted by HuronBob at 2:57 AM on January 9, 2016

Are your lips dry? It's that time of year. Sleeping with a humidifier could help keep them from getting inflamed due to dryness.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:40 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This fellow has some ideas about lip-biting while eating, all related to diet.

It probably won't stop the biting, but to help mouth sores heal, rinse with hydrogen peroxide. It doesn't taste good, but it is not really nasty, and the taste fades quickly.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:29 AM on January 9, 2016

Once bitten, you're gonig to keep biting that area until the swelling goes down. Try slowing your chewing and, I know this sounds weird, but try not creating any suction while you chew where your lips/cheeks are pulled toward your teeth.
posted by cecic at 6:40 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Aha! Have you been getting enough sleep? There's research somewhere (sorry, can't find it right now) that fine motor skills slip when you're sleep-deprived. I find that I do the same when I am especially tired, and it's a real jarring experience and reminder to get some rest. I also find that I trip or am otherwise less coordinated in sports when I am short on sleep. Hope that helps!
posted by hampanda at 11:46 AM on January 9, 2016

I used to do this often, and even now I still do it once in a while - and of course, as other people have said, once I've done it I tend to keep doing it unless I'm super-vigilant. It's hard to stay disciplined and careful long enough to let the swollen area shrink back down to normal.

I've also noticed that I can keep the swelling to a minimum by immediately pressing the wound against the front of my teeth or pinching it between two fingers. Not hard enough to cause sharp pain, just a firm steady pressure for a couple minutes. Swearing steadily and quietly to myself also helps. :)

It seems to have something to do with the specific way I move my lower lip over my teeth as I'm taking in and chewing a bite of food. It took me a while to start noticing the pattern of that particular movement, and even longer to train myself into a different chewing habit that kept my lip out of the danger area as much as possible.

To say I purse my lips while I chew is an exaggeration, but it's something very subtly and slightly along those lines. Taking smaller bites, chewing more slowly, and focusing on the mechanics of how I was eating also helped speed up the process of resetting my eating habits.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:27 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try not to do too much at once. Sometimes when I'm in a hurry, I'll unconsciously try to clear crumbs or a smudge off my lips while also still chewing, and it ends in me biting my lip. Same goes for trying to clear stuff off my teeth while chewing; I'll end up biting my tongue or cheek.
posted by limeonaire at 1:00 PM on January 9, 2016

These are all great ideas - it never occurred to be that the biting could be recursively more common because of previous bites. I generally eat pretty slowly, but I'm definitely sleep-deprived and dehydrated. It's been going on for awhile (a year or two, maybe) and yes, unintentional and while I'm eating.

I like the idea of eating non-chew foods for a few days. I'll give that a try too. It always happens if I turn my head when I'm chewing, so the idea of the swollenness being a factor makes a lot of sense.

Thank you all - I definitely have some new things to try.
posted by bendy at 3:38 PM on January 9, 2016

I had this problem when I was running and eventually built up some scar tissue. It wasn't huge but I bit it every few weeks. Super annoying!

My doctor looked at it and referred me to a maxillofacial surgeon. The surgeon gave me some local and took it out during the first (only) office visit. I think he may have put a stitch in but I can remember. He sent it off for a biopsy (because that's what they do with stuff I guess.)

It was totally not a big deal to have that thing removed. If it bothers you, then ask your doc if there's some scar tissue there.
posted by 26.2 at 10:55 PM on January 9, 2016

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