I use chewy fidgets to get the nervous energy out of my jaw. And to distract my tongue and keep it off the inside of my cheeks. I also find the chewy fidget helpful in curbing the urge to bite my nails.
Almost all BFRBs involve hands in some way. Therefore, most coping methods focus on keeping hands busy or creating barriers and blocks.
This is not so easy when it comes to cheek-biting or lip biting. Nevertheless, I try to approach it the same way because, like my fingers, my mouth often has a (restless) life of its own!
As with my other BFRBs, I try to prevent or intervene in the situation before I do too much damage. Logging has helped me become more aware of when and why I bite the inside of my cheeks and lips.
This is not easy as I keep biting my cheeks to comfort myself and let go of frustration, fear, and overwhelm. I even do it to pass the time!
Cheek biting is so easily accessible; that’s probably why I’m struggling so much with it. I can do it without others noticing. Also, no one can see the damage I’ve done. It just hurts a lot.
I started using chewy fidgets to self-regulate and create a barrier—I can’t bite my cheeks or lips while having one in my mouth. I often use it while working on the computer or doing other sedentary tasks at home.
First, I used the munchie from my Invisalign treatment until I bought the chewy sticks. I chose these because they have the same shape as the chopsticks that I used before to create a barrier against cheek-biting.
But I’m glad to have something to chew on to get the energy out. I’m telling you, biting down on these chewy sticks is a full jaw workout! Sometimes it takes a while for my muscles to relax enough to fully open my mouth again 🙈
Another benefit of chewable fidget toys is that chewing can relieve stress and promote focus. Something you can never have enough of, right? 😉
Where to buy chewy fidget toys
Chewy fidget toys come in many different shapes and sizes. However, they get mainly advertised to children. They are usually very colorful and quite large.
My chewy sticks are pretty subtle, though. I got them from my local mental health store—the amazing Odin book store in Vancouver.
But of course, there are many options online. Just look for oral sensory chews, chewy fidget toys, or chewelry (yes, chewable jewelry!).
To save you some time, I recommend checking out the website www.arktherapeutic.com. It’s like chew toy heaven for humans!
Alternative coping strategies I use for cheek-biting
- Chewing gum, the good old classic, is always great for on the go.
- Nibbling on nuts and sunflower seeds is a good distraction.
- I snack on crunchy veggies like carrots, celery sticks, or kohlrabi.
- Mouthwash has a bit of a burning sensation. I keep it in my mouth despite the discomfort. I feel like it distracts from the urge to bite at times.
- I am wearing a mouthguard as the ultimate barrier to cheek-biting. I often use it when I know I’m going to bite my cheeks. It also helps heal the skin.
- I puff out my cheeks when I catch myself biting my cheeks. This little pause creates awareness of what I am doing. I find it especially helpful when I’m out and about.
Do you relate? What tips would you add for coping with cheek biting?
I had a little BFRB epiphany when I learned about Homunculus. Have you ever heard of this? The Homunculus is a depiction of a tiny human being from 1500. It is an image of a person with the size of the body parts distorted to represent how much area of the brain’s cerebral cortex is devoted to it. For example, the mouth and hands are enormous, whereas the legs and feet are tiny. I found this image very interesting as I feel like my mouth and hands sometimes have a life of their own. Which explains a bit the automatic body-focused repetitive behaviours.