why do we bite our lips when eating

If youвre like most people, you have most likely experienced the pain of accidentally biting the inside of your cheek while chewing в and then continuing to bite the same spot over and over for days, because itвs now in the way of your bite. But why do we do this- and what can we do to stop it? We asked Dr. Michelle Simpson of Wilmington, NC to give us the lowdown on cheek biting. Though frequent or intentional cheek biting can be a sign of a bigger problem, such as TMJ disorder or a nervous or stress related condition, most of the time when cheek biting occurs, it's merely accidental and no cause for concern. Still, cheek bite injuries are particularly frustrating because they feel like they take forever to heal. This is probably because not only is the injury now right in the way of our bite, causing it to be re-bitten, but it can also become irritated by certain foods- especially if itвs an open or fresh wound. Unfortunately, unlike an external wound, we canвt just put some bacitracin on it and cover it with a bandage. Thankfully the mouth really does heal faster than the rest of the body, so if you can manage to not re-injure it repeatedly, it should theoretically clear up quickly.


If you do want to help it along, Dr. Michelle Simpson recommends rinsing your mouth with salt water or alcohol-free mouthwash after eating, to keep the injury clean. It is important to keep the injured area clean because any wound in the mouth is susceptible to infection thanks to the plaque and bacteria already present in the mouth. So, what causes those accidental cheek bites, anyway? After all, most of the time we manage not to bite our cheeks- what is so different those few times that we accidentally miss? Dr. Simpson believes it's usually a simple case of carelessness or distracted eating. Says Simpson "If you try to recall what you were doing when you bit your cheek, chances are you werenвt really focused on chewing. You may have been talking, walking, or possibly just eating too quickly or taking too big of a bite. " Talking while chewing, or over-filling your mouth can easily cause your bite to misalign, putting your cheek in the path of your teeth. Furthermore, when you are distracted with other activities like walking, watching TV, or reading while you eat, you may be more focused on the other activity, and accidentally bite down at the wrong time, or in the wrong place.


Thankfully, though accidental cheek bites are painful, theyвre easy to prevent. "Slow down, take smaller bites, and focus on your meal," says Dr. Simpson. "When you are focused on your meal, you get the added benefit of enjoying the food you are eating, which will make the meal more satisfying. This is the same advice doctors give patients looking to control their weight, because by slowing down while you eat, you allow your mouth to experience the flavors of your food more thoroughly and you can better recognize when you're full. "
Have you ever accidentally bitten your lip, cheek, or tongue while chewing your food? If so, then you know how painful it can be. Some people think that they are eating too fast, or just being clumsy, but I don t think that is the case. The process of chewing is like the beating of your heart: it s not something that you have to learn and practice. There was no Chewing Food 101 class in school. I think this phenomena is caused by a malfunctioning nervous system due to an electrolyte deficiency. Your nervous system needs sodium, potassium, and calcium to work properly. (Yes, that s right, you need salt salt is not evil. ) If your electrolytes are out of whack, then your body can t control your muscles properly because it is either sending the wrong signals, or all the signals are not reaching the muscles, or both.


How does this happen? Here are some possibilities: Chemically-induced dehydration Caffeine and alcohol are well known to dehydrate you. If you stay out late drinking, and then guzzle coffee in the morning to stay awake, don t be surprised if you start biting yourself. Adding some Gatorade to the mix might help. Eating a diet that is too acidic This depletes your calcium. See the post I wrote on for the full explanation and instant cure. Mineral Supplements Taking extra mineral supplements can create a mineral imbalance. For example, when my skin breaks out, I take some extra zinc, which usually helps. However, one day, I must have taken too much because I started biting myself like crazy during lunch. I had been keeping a good acid-alkaline balance with my diet, sticking to one Dr Pepper per day, and a beer or two, so I m pretty sure it was the excessive zinc. Getting Low-Sodium Religion While your body can adapt to a lower sodium intake, going cold-turkey is not a good way to get there.


If you suddenly reduce your normal sodium consumption, you just might start biting yourself for a day or two while your body adjusts. The worst incident that I suffered was immediately after putting 15 sugar-cubes in my coffee. Why would I do something so crazy? Because I was trying to figure out how many carbs I could eat before my blood sugar spiked. It was an experiment. Of course, both coffee and sugar are acidic, and when I ate breakfast 30 minutes later, not only did I bite myself, but I bit myself continuously. It was pretty terrifying to see my body fly out of control like that. I had to concentrate hard to slow down my chewing in order to get through breakfast in one piece. So, the one time that I put 15 sugars in my coffee was the one time that I bit myself continuously. That s pretty good evidence that an excessively acidic diet was the culprit. Of course, I am a programmer, not a doctor, so if you don t get a quick cure by adjusting your diet with the steps above, you should definitely see a doctor. If your nervous system is telling you to chew on yourself, then we can only imagine what other wrong things it is telling the rest of your body to do.

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