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Cheek Biting

Cheek biting is a chronic habit, seen in many people, that can lead to pain and discomfort. Let's take a look at its causes, symptoms and ways to treat and prevent this habitual condition.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan Apr 10, 2019
If someone were to come up to you and tell you that was suffering from morsicatio buccarum, you'd think it's some dreadful contagious tropical disease. However, it is not so. Morsicatio buccarum simply refers to cheek biting.
This is a condition where a person has a chronic habit of biting the buccal mucosa which lines the inner surface of the cheek. This is a habit that a person may inculcate quite early on in life, which can be detrimental for that person in the long run.


  • A sharp or pointed tooth is often one of the main culprits. When we eat something hard, the side of the tooth may get chipped, which could become a point of trauma for the adjacent cheek tissue.
  • A common cause of unintentional cheek biting in people that are in their late teens is the eruption of wisdom teeth. When wisdom teeth erupt, if there is not enough space in the dental arch for their eruption, they tend to erupt in an abnormal position. Due to the yielding nature of the cheek, the wisdom teeth often erupt in a buccal (outward) position.
  • A faulty restoration with a high point in a tooth can also be one of the iatrogenic causes.
  • Other causes of cheek biting include stress, a side effect of teeth grinding, TMJ problems, jaw closure problems, muscle dysfunction, etc.


The symptoms are often quite apparent. If the cheek biting is mild, then in the oral cavity, in the region where the upper and lower teeth meet, there will be a white line present, which is known as linea alba. Usually, this line is present in many people, but in people that have an active habit, this line is far more pronounced.
If the person has a severe cheek biting habit, then he will mostly end up with small parts of the cheek mucosa sticking out in the form of tissue tags. He may also have pain in the region, which may be severe enough to make him lose his appetite, as spicy or very hot food intake will lead to further pain.
In people that are very stressed, or who have a habit of grinding teeth in sleep, when they wake up in the morning, they will feel that there jaw joint and jaw muscles are quite sore.


The treatment will depend on the underlying cause. In people that have faulty restorations or who have a broken or a chipped tooth, they must go to the dentist and seek treatment immediately. The dentist will mostly reduce whatever high points are there in the restoration, and if there is a broken tooth, either place a filling or a dental crown on it.
For erupting wisdom teeth, if the teeth are erupting completely out of the arch, then wisdom tooth extraction is advised. If you're wondering about how to stop cheek biting when a person has teeth grinding habit, then a mouth guard for grinding teeth works best.
This may merely be discomforting at first, but if this habit becomes chronic, due to constant trauma inflicted over the years on the buccal mucosa, it could lead to oral cancer, i.e, cancer of inner lining of the cheek. So, if you have been suffering from chronic cheek biting, it is best to visit the dentist and get the condition treated at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.