4 Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours That Harm Your Mouth

Boy opening his mouth at the dentist

Do you habitually bite, pull, pick or scrape your hair, skin, tongue or nails? That could usually be when you are stressed or engrossed. If yes, you may have a harmful body-focused repetitive behaviour.

Although the habit is not intended to self-harm, it still can cause damage. Here are four body-focused repetitive behaviours that may be harming your mouth:

1. Onychophagia/ Nail Biting

About 30% of people bite their nails whenever they feel anxious, lonely, bored or just hungry. Most of these individuals started as children and never stopped. Nail-biting can literally make you sick if germs hiding in your nails enter your mouth or get through damaged skin.

The habit can also leave you with weird-looking nails if you destroy the surrounding tissue.

Other Dental Downsides

Townsville doctors and dentists also consider chronic nail-biting a pathological dental habit. The behaviour can interfere with your smile if you break, crack or chip your choppers when biting your tough nails. You may also develop oral abscesses, infections or even jaw problems.

If you struggle with nail-biting, try wearing gloves or keeping your nails short and coated with a bitter taste. Also, talk to your doctor about your triggers and your options for therapy.

2. Morsicatio Linguarum/Tongue Biting

This condition involves continuous biting of your tongue. You may have this disorder if, when stressed, you find yourself chewing on the sides of your tongue.

  • Resultant Issues. Tongue chewing cause tissue damage, keratinisation (cornification), and pigmentation. The affected area will respond to friction and become thickened. The sides of the tongue will also appear whiter. Your dentist may recommend that you protect your tongue and cover your teeth with a suitable mouthguard. Your therapist or doctor can also help you manage stress in a better way.

3. Morsicatio Labiorum/Lip Biting

Persons with this body-focused repetitive behaviour have the strong desire to bite, suck or chew on their inner lip. This habit often causes skin cells on the lips to shed. Another symptom of this behaviour is a rough coloured patch on the lip.

Your doctor may recommend a special gadget that can shield your lips from your lower choppers. Also, consider talking to a therapist about handling your stress and anxiety.

4. Morsicatio Buccarum/Mouth Biting

Boy biting nails

This behaviour gives you desire to keep biting the inside of your mouth. The habitual chewing leads to inflammation, sores and a bumpy feeling on the inner lining of the mouth.

If the inside of your mouth feels sore, you may bite it more, leading to more tissue trauma. If chewing on your mouth helps you to make yourself calm, try soothing yourself by chewing on sugarless gum.

  • Treatment for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours. Repetitive behaviours can be difficult to control. However, physical barriers such as special mouth guards, lip protectors and gloves may help protect you as you tackle the root cause of your behaviour.

Also, cognitive behaviour therapy can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and empower you to gain more control over them.

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