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Mouth Diseases

Strange Habit

12/09/2010

Question:

My bottom teeth are crooked and the tooth located most central juts inwardly. This allows me to feel the sides and corners of this tooth with my tongue. For some time now I have become obsessed with the feeling of scraping my tongue against these surfaces. Doing this also stimulates my salivary glands allowing me to "gleek" (shoot out saliva directly from the glands). Two questions: 1. Should I be worried about damaging my tongue? 2. Can you recommend a way for me to curb this habit?

Answer:

1. You will likely not damage your tongue seriously or irreversibly, but local tenderness or even occasional mild bleeding is possible.
2. See your dentist. It might be possible to just have the corners smoothed. Another option might be a mouth guard. Since it's difficult to make a home mouth guard for your lower teeth, you might ask your dentist about a custom-fitted mouth guard that you could slip over your lower teeth, at least temporarily. After several weeks of use, your tongue will probably no longer have the "habit" of scraping against the teeth. Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Associate Dean of Dentistry Administration
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University