Is Lip Biting Bad For You?

Lip biting is up there with cheek chewing and jaw grinding as one of the most common anxiety-induced habits, per Health Shots. You may find yourself chewing on your bottom lip in times of anxiety, stress, or even thoughtfulness. As explained by Calm Clinic, lip biting and similar behaviors are thought of as the mind's coping response to anxiety.

This habit isn't usually a problem if it only happens occasionally, but for some, it can become a real issue. While any formal diagnosis should come from a clinical professional, Healthline reports that chronic and uncontrollable lip biting can be classified as body-focused repetitive behavior or BFRB.

However, Colgate also mentions that lip biting isn't a problem limited to anxiety. If you find yourself constantly biting your lips by accident, then this could be a sign of an underlying dental issue that your dentist should evaluate.

Whether it is a response to stress or anxiety or an accidental byproduct of everyday eating, there are possible issues caused by regular lip biting that you should be aware of.

The potential harms of anxiety-induced lip biting

Because the tissues of the mouth and lips are delicate, redness and swelling are common results of this habit, per Beautiful Smiles. Chronic lip biting can also cause bleeding and sores, something that can be recurring if the biting does not allow the sores to heal (via My Smiles by Design). Colgate mentions that headaches and jaw pain can also result from this habit.

Your lip biting may spawn from the normal anxiety that humans invariably experience at certain points throughout life, but if it becomes a chronic habit, then it might indicate an anxiety disorder or be a symptom of the aforementioned BFRB, according to Refinery29.

In these cases, you may need professional help to cure yourself of this habit. Medical News Today mentions cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT) as specific treatment types for BFRB, while WikiHow suggests therapy and medication as ways to treat anxiety disorders that cause lip-biting.

Otherwise, at-home tips for avoiding lip biting include getting rid of dry lips and practicing mindfulness.

What recurring accidental lip biting can mean

Lip biting might be a habit mostly associated with anxiety, but it can also be an accidental occurrence that results from an underlying dental issue. If you find yourself with a swollen mouth during meals or even after talking with friends, then you might be suffering from such an issue.

Similarly to anxiety-cause lip biting, accidental lip biting cause lead to redness, swelling, and general inflammation. Colgate explains that such lip biting can result from a misaligned bite, known as malocclusion. Depending on your specific case, your dentist might recommend orthodontics, braces, or even surgery to correct the issue (per Cleveland Clinic).

Alternatively, accidental lip biting could result from temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ. Healthline explains that this disorder refers to a collection of conditions that affect the use of the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. Medications and oral therapies are used to treat this condition (via Mayo Clinic).

In this way, if you suspect your accidental lip biting is related to an underlying issue, you should speak with your doctor to treat the habit. While lip biting isn't always bad, it definitely can be.