The information obtained here should not replace consultation with a physician. All medical information, procedures, drug
doses, therapies, indications, and contraindications should be discussed with your personal physician.
This web site was designed as an information source for individuals seeking answers to a very rarely discussed but very
common condition “tongue chewing”.
Tongue chewing effects millions of people and could be one of the most common, unrecognized, undocumented habits in
children and adults. Why?
While there is an abundance of information in medical journals and on the Internet on various other oral habits and movement
disorders, tongue chewing has never been studied or documented. Try a search for yourself - Click on the link below and type in
"tongue chewing" then try something else like "hair pulling" or "teeth grinding".
U.S. National Library of Medicine - http://www.pubmed.com (This is just one of the numerous medical databases I have searched.)
This site will explore various viable theories, possible causes, therapies and compare tongue chewing to other similar conditions.
Links will be provided as references to support my opinions.
What is Tongue Chewing?
Your doctor will tell you it is a TMJ related disorder and will recommend orthodontics or claim it is stress related and may
recommend habit reversal therapy. He's Wrong!
Most tongue chewers start as children, between five months and five years old or possibly even in the womb but tongue chewing
can begin at any age including the teens and adults A likely explanation is that it started as an extension of a childhood behavior
such as thumb sucking, teething, tongue thrust or as a tension-reducer and evolved into a full-blown self-stimulatory repetitive
habitual behavior. Symptoms may have started from a trauma, emotional or physical. Some people that chew are unaware that
they are doing it and for others it is an annoying, embarrassing chronic habit.
Tongue chewing can also be one of the side effects often seen from the use of specific prescription drugs. This disorder is called
“Tardive Dyskinesia”. While there may be similarities with Tardive Dyskinesia in the pattern and possibly the treatment this web
site is primarily focused on tongue chewing as a behavioral disorder not related to the use of prescription medications. Tongue
chewing may have similarities to other movement or tic disorders. Nail biting, adult thumb sucking, bruxism (teeth grinding), and
Trichotillomania (hair pulling), are all developmentally self-stimulatory repetitive habitual behaviors.
The symptoms of tongue chewing may vary between individuals. In mild cases one may only occasionally bite lightly on one or
both sides of the tongue and be completely unaware of doing it. In more severe cases the tongue chewing is more intense and
includes a forward or lateral side to side tongue thrust.
Symptoms may appear similar to a disorder caused by the use of prescription medications called Tardive Dyskinesia
characterized by coordinated, constant movements of the mouth, tongue and jaw. Movements may be bilateral (side-to-side), or
they may look like one-sided chewing motions.
Tongue chewing movements may also be squirming or twisting. If the Jaw is involved there may be contortions of the jaw that
include clicking, popping as in TMJ or crunching of the jaw. Tardive Dyskinesia refers to a variety of involuntary, repetitive,
persistent, stereotypic movements usually involving the tongue caused by the use of drugs that block dopamine receptors.
The tongue may be dry, tender, sore and may have teeth marks laterally or just on one side.
There may be a vocal component including clicking, humming.
One general characteristic in tongue chewers is that the chewing begins unconsciously and can only be suppressed for minutes
or until there is a distraction from the intent not to chew.
There may be periods of days or even years where the person does not chew.
The chewing may subconsciously be suppressed while in public or when someone enters the room only to return as soon as
they are in a safe environment or there is no one around.
Chewing is often worse when the person is stressed, bored or excited.
Chewing usually subsides when lying down and is generally not present during sleep. There are exceptions to this.
Tongue chewing is self-stimulating and there is also a pacifying/pleasure aspect of it.
For more information please click on the links above
WARNING: - The information obtained here should not replace consultation with a physician. All medical information,
procedures, drug doses, therapies, indications, and contraindications should be discussed with your personal physician.