What Causes Me to Bite Down on My Tongue During Sleep Unintentionally?

What Causes Me to Bite Down on My Tongue During Sleep Unintentionally?

Unconsciously biting your tongue while you sleep can result from various causes, such as an urge to chew or stress. It disrupts the quality and duration of our rest and leads to dental issues and persistent jaw discomfort. If left untreated, this habit can damage health outcomes over time.

For many individuals, nighttime gnawing is a frequent habit. It's believed that up to 70% of adults partake in this activity while dreaming. Doing so can have detrimental impacts on your health, such as interrupting sleep patterns, causing dental issues, and even leading to conditions like sleep apnea. A viable medical option for those with the latter condition who also smoke? Quit! Quitting smoking has proven successful at relieving symptoms of sleep apnea.

People bite their tongues while they're sleeping for different reasons. Some people do it to control their emotions or relieve stress. Others do it because it's a habit or they're experiencing anxiety or pain. But regardless of why someone does it, biting your tongue can harm your health and well-being.

Do you struggle with biting your tongue in the middle of the night?

If you've ever bitten your tongue or cheeks while asleep, then you know the discomfort that can come with it; and if it continues to happen, believe us when we say - the pain only intensifies. Dentists are all too familiar with this issue from their patients' complaints. 

Why do I constantly bite my tongue?

It's not uncommon to bite your tongue from time to time, yet if you're biting it during sleep every night, there might be a bigger problem. From misaligned bites and swelled tongues to TMJ issues, these can lead to extreme discomfort and even visible damage on the soft tissues of the sides or edges of your tongue. Thus, it is important that if this habit persists while sleeping - medical advice should be immediately sought in order to get a proper diagnosis.

If you constantly find yourself biting your tongue, it can lead to far more than just discomfort. 

  • Infection: You may develop an infection due to the bacteria from your saliva entering any open wounds sustained by biting.
  • Bad habit: unconsciously clenching and grinding your jaw while sleeping is a sign of TMJ, which brings its own set of issues related to pain in the mouth area and difficulty opening one's jaws wide enough for normal eating or speaking.
  • Tooth loss: worrying about tooth loss is another consequence as well; if done frequently enough, it could put stress on teeth and cause them to become loose over time. 
  • Pain: Last but not least - swelling! A swollen tongue will bring with itself speech problems such as lisping along with difficulties swallowing food properly without experiencing pain throughout the process.

Nicotine, a chemical present in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, can form an addiction. Its effects on the body are individualized; however, some may experience Rhythmic Movement Disorder (RMD), a type of sleep disorder characterized by unusual movement patterns during slumber. This disruption to restful nights' sleep as well as difficulties with day-to-day activities, often accompany RMD symptoms due to fatigue caused by lack of quality shut-eye.

Rhythmic Movement 

Do you gnaw on your tongue during sleep? You may be experiencing Rhythmic Movement Disorder. In some cases, this condition can be resolved with medication yet if it persists, a medical diagnosis is essential for proper treatment. Don't let the problem worsen; see a doctor today!

Morsicatio Labiorum/Linguarum

Morsicatio Linguarum is an all too common and often overlooked issue that can seriously impact your oral health. Many people don't realize that sleeping with their teeth clenched or grinding against one another, puts over 250 pounds of pressure on the soft tissues in their tongues! Luckily, night guards help protect us from this damaging force by acting as a buffer between our top and bottom sets of choppers.

Although this condition is quite common, few dermatologists know it, and literature on the topic is scarce. Fortunately, regression tends to occur naturally once you stop biting your tongue in your sleep. Although this habit may be indicative of a more significant underlying medical issue at times, it usually isn't malignant. Unfortunately, though, researchers have yet to pinpoint an exact cause for nocturnal tongue-biting.


Malocclusion, a misalignment of teeth that causes an uncomfortable fit between them and inevitably deteriorates the condition of your teeth, is more commonplace than anticipated. People with malocclusions do not actively grind their teeth; nonetheless, it occurs mostly during sleep due to a lack of control over this habit. Furthermore, people who suffer from malocclusion are more likely to develop gum diseases and tooth decay since they cannot properly chew due to the wear-down process that has damaged their set of chompers.

Bruxism is a prevalent issue, but it might not sound as dangerous in nature. Though this habit may appear relatively harmless at first glance, the reality is it can significantly affect your oral health. When you grind your teeth and clench the jaw muscles too often, they become tight while concurrently restricting the tongue's range of motion. In addition, discomforting symptomatology, such as pain and possible infections related to malocclusion, could arise with recurring bruxism cases if left untreated. Fortunately, there are multiple methods for addressing bruxism that include therapies customized for each individual depending on severity; however, more advanced treatments may be required when applicable circumstances warrant them..

Using a Custom Night Mouth Guard to Protect Your Tongue During Sleep

Contemplating why you're biting your tongue? Utilize Jently's custom-fit mouth guards and shield yourself from further injury. Approved by the FDA, these resilient pieces of material fit snugly over your teeth to minimize the risks associated with tongue lacerations. Our in-house engineer's design each guard for a precise fit - simply take an impression at home and return it to us in its original packaging! With our convenient mail-order service, acquiring protective dental night guards is simpler than ever before.

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