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Everything you need to know about cheek biting
While most people have accidentally bitten the inside of their cheek before, some people bite their cheek compulsively over a long period. Chronic cheek biting is a body-focused repetitive behavior that has an association with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Cheek biting and the biting of other areas in the mouth affect 750 out of every 1 million people. Research suggests that this behavior is more common in females than in males.

Cheek biting can affect people of all ages, but it may be more likely in children. In an older survey from 2005, researchers showed that the prevalence of cheek and lip biting in children between the ages of 2 and 17 years in the United States was slightly under 2%.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes and complications of cheek biting and when to see a doctor.


What is cheek biting?

There are many reasons why people bite their cheek. Cheek biting can sometimes be a minor accident, but it may also be due to a mental health condition.

Careless chewing or talking while eating can sometimes result in someone biting their cheek accidentally. Accidental biting can cause injury and inflammation at the location of the bite.

If someone is regularly biting their cheek accidentally, they may wish to discuss it with a dentist. This symptom may be due to the teeth or implants becoming misaligned in the mouth. People with temporomandibular disorders may also frequently bite their cheeks.

People who chronically bite their cheek may be experiencing a body-focused repetitive behavior. Cheek biting may also occur during sleep.


Chronic cheek biting is a more serious condition that requires appropriate medical attention. The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5includes it among obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.

Other body-focused repetitive disorders include hair pulling, nail biting, and lip biting.

What to know about antibiotics and tooth infections

A tooth infection, or an abscessed tooth, generally occurs as a result of tooth decay and poor oral hygiene. However, it can also develop due to previous dental work or traumatic injury.

When an infection occurs, it causes a pocket of pus to form in the mouth as a result of an overgrowth of bacteria. This infection often causes swelling, pain, and sensitivity in the area. Without treatment, the infection may spread to other areas of the jaw or even the brain.

Dental decay and cavities are very common. As one article notes, up to 91% of adultsTrusted Source ages 20–64 have cavities. Also, around 27% of people in the same age group have untreated tooth decay. Treating tooth decay early is important to prevent complications such as tooth infections.

Anyone who experiences a tooth infection should see a dentist right away to prevent the infection from spreading.

One of the first things a dentist will likely recommend is an antibiotic to kill the infection. Some antibiotics work better than others for tooth infections, and there may also be some over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications to help with the symptoms.

When to use antibiotics for a tooth infection

Dentists will typically only recommend antibiotics in dentistry for tooth infections. However, not all infected teeth require antibiotics.

In some cases, a dentist may simply be able to drain the infected area, remove the infected tooth, or perform a root canal to fix the issue.

They tend to avoid recommending antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary, such as when the infection is severe or spreading, or if a person has a weakened immune system.

List of types and dosages

Although antibiotics can help clear a tooth infection, it is important to use the appropriate antibiotic in each situation.

The type of antibiotic a dentist recommends will vary depending on the bacteria causing the infection. This is because different antibiotics work in different ways to eliminate different strains of bacteria.

As a study in the Dentistry JournalTrusted Source notes, there are over 150 different strains of bacteria that occur in the mouth. Many of these bacteria have the potential to grow and cause an infection.

Treatment may change depending on the bacteria causing the infection, though much of the time, dentists simply recommend an antibiotic that works against many types.

Penicillin class

Penicillin-type drugs are common forms of antibiotics for tooth infections. This includes penicillin and amoxicillin. Some dentists may also recommend amoxicillin with clavulanic acid, as the combination may help eliminate more stubborn bacteria.

Typical dosages of amoxicillin for a tooth infection are either 500 milligrams (mg) every 8 hours or 1,000 mg every 12 hours.

Typical dosages of amoxicillin with clavulanic acid are around 500–2,000 mg every 8 hours or 2,000 mg every 12 hours, depending on the minimum effective dosage.

However, some bacteria may resist these drugs, making them less effective. In fact, many doctors now choose other antibiotics as their first line of treatment.

Also, some people are allergic to these drugs. Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to similar medications should tell their dentist before receiving their treatment recommendation.


Clindamycin is effective against a wide range of infectious bacteria. As a study in the International Dental Journal notes, some researchers recommend clindamycin as the drug of choice to treat dental infections, as bacteria may be less likely to resist this drug than penicillin-class drugs.

A typical dosage of clindamycin is either 300 mg or 600 mg every 8 hours, depending on which dosage will be effective.


Azithromycin works against a wide variety of bacteria, working to halt their growth. It may be effective in treating some tooth infections, though dentists may only recommend it to people who are allergic to penicillin-class drugs or who do not respond to them or other drugs such as clindamycin.

The typical dosage of azithromycin is 500 mg every 24 hours for 3 consecutive days.


Metronidazole is an antibiotic that doctors and dentists use to treat a number of infections. However, it may not be suitable for everyone and is typically not the first choice of treatment.

The dosage for metronidazole is around 500–750 mg every 8 hours.

How to get rid of a toothache at night
A toothache is a painful annoyance, especially at night. Getting a toothache at night can make falling asleep or staying asleep very difficult.

However, there are a number of remedies that may help people find relief and get to sleep, including taking pain relievers or applying a cold compress or even cloves to the tooth.

In this article, learn more about nine home remedies for relieving a toothache at night.

9 ways to treat a toothache at night

Treating a toothache at night may be more difficult, as there is not much to distract a person from the pain.

However, people can try the following methods to relieve pain:


1. Oral pain medication

Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) is a quick, simple way for many people to effectively reduce mild-to-moderate toothaches.

Always stay within the recommended dosage on the packaging.

If the toothache is severe, it is best to see a dentist and speak to them about stronger pain relievers.

2. Cold compress

Using a cold compress may help ease the pain of a toothache.

Applying a bag of ice wrapped in a towel to the affected side of the face or jaw helps constrict the blood vessels in the area, which can reduce pain to allow a person to fall asleep.

Applying a cold compress to the area for 15–20 minutes every few hours in the evening may also help prevent pain when going to bed.


3. Elevation

Pooling blood in the head may cause additional pain and inflammation. For some people, elevating the head with an extra pillow or two may relieve the pain enough for them to fall asleep.

4. Medicated ointments

Some medicated ointments may also help reduce toothache pain. OTC numbing gels and ointments that contain ingredients such as benzocaine may numb the area.

However, benzocaine is not suitable for use by young children.

5. Salt water rinse

A simple salt water rinse is a common home remedy for a toothache.

Salt water is a natural antibacterial agent, so it may reduce inflammation. This, in turn, helps protect damaged teeth from infection.

Rinsing with salt water may also help remove any food particles or debris stuck in the teeth or gums.

6. Hydrogen peroxide rinse

Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that generally occurs as a result of poor oral hygiene. It can cause issues such as soreness, bleeding gums, and teeth that come loose in their sockets.

The author of a 2016 study found that rinsing with hydrogen peroxide mouthwash helped reduce plaque and symptoms of periodontitis.

People should always dilute food-grade hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water. Swish the solution in the mouth, but do not swallow it.

This remedy is not suitable for children, as there is a risk they may accidentally swallow the mixture.

7. Peppermint tea

Swishing peppermint tea or sucking on peppermint tea bags may also help temporarily relieve pain from a toothache.

Researchers note that peppermint contains antibacterial and antioxidant compounds. Menthol, an active ingredient in peppermint, may also have a mild numbing effect on sensitive areas.


8. Clove

Eugenol, which is one of the main compounds in cloves, can reduce tooth pain. The results of a 2015 clinical trial indicated that people who applied eugenol to their gums and socket after having a tooth extracted had less pain and inflammation during healing.

Eugenol acts as an analgesic, which means that it numbs the area. To use clove for a toothache, soak ground cloves in water to make a paste. Then, apply the paste to the tooth, or put it in an empty tea bag and place it in the mouth.

Alternatively, gently chewing or sucking on a single clove and then allowing it to sit near the painful tooth may help relieve pain.

This is not a suitable remedy for children, as they may swallow too much clove. Single cloves can be spiky and painful if a person swallows them.

The duration of dry socket
Dry socket is a condition that can occur after tooth removal. It usually happens 3–5 days after surgery. Dry socket causes intense pain because it exposes the nerves and bones in the gum.

Dry socket, or alveolar osteitis, can last for up to 7 days. It is a common complication of wisdom tooth extraction. If food particles enter the socket, they can exacerbate the pain, increase the risk of infection, and slow down the healing.

Following a tooth extraction, a blood clot usually develops over the extraction site to protect the bones and nerves underneath. In cases of dry socket, this blood clot fails to form, or it falls off before the wound heals.

In this article, we list treatments for dry socket and possible methods of prevention.



According to the Canadian Dental Association, dry socket typically occurs within 3–5 days of the extraction and lasts for up to 7 days.

The pain is severe and can persist for 24–72 hours. The research recommends that further investigation takes place if pain continues beyond this timeframe.

Dry socket is not very common. Columbia University College of Dental Medicine estimate that it occurs in approximately 2–5% of cases of tooth removal.

If symptoms do not appear within a few days of the extraction, it is unlikely that a person will develop a dry socket. A review in the International Journal of Dentistry indicates that people report 95–100% of all cases within a week.

Can receding gums grow back? What to know
Healthy gums fit snugly around the visible part, or the "crown," of the teeth. Gum recession occurs when the gums pull away or recede, exposing the roots below.

Unlike the crown of the tooth, the roots do not have a protective enamel coating. This makes the exposed roots sensitive and prone to decay.

Once the gum tissue has receded from the teeth, it cannot grow back. However, some treatments can help restore gum tissue around the teeth.

This article outlines the various treatments for receding gums. We also provide tips on how to slow and stop its progression.

What causes receding gums?

There are several different factors that can cause the gums to recede, including:


Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, refers to the infection and inflammation of the gums and other structures in the mouth.

This inflammation occurs due to an accumulation of bacterial deposits called plaque.

Factors that may cause or contribute to periodontal disease include:

  • poor oral hygiene
  • crooked teeth
  • damaged or faulty fillings
  • bridges or partial dentures that no longer fit
  • a genetic predisposition
  • hormonal changes due to pregnancy or oral contraceptives
  • medications that cause dry mouth
  • certain immune disorders
  • stress
  • smoking or the use of any tobacco product

There are two stages of periodontal disease:


Gingivitis causes gum redness, swelling, and sometimes bleeding. Without treatment, gingivitis may lead to periodontitis.



Periodontitis is the later stage of periodontal disease and can cause the gums to recede.


As the gum and connective tissues pull away from the tooth, a pocket forms between the tooth and gum, which begins to accumulate bacteria. Over time, the bacteria cause further inflammation.

If the gums recede too much, it may lead to bone loss, which can cause teeth to loosen or fall out.

Forceful or incorrect brushing

Regular brushing is essential for maintaining good oral hygiene. However, using an incorrect brushing technique could actually contribute to receding gums.

The gingival margin is the part of the gum that comes into contact with the crown of the tooth. Brushing incorrectly or too hard can damage the gingival margin, possibly triggering gum inflammation and recession.

Incorrect brushing factors that can trigger gum recession include:

  • applying too much pressure
  • using a hard or medium bristled toothbrush
  • brushing the teeth in a broad, horizontal motion

Teeth grinding and clenching

Some people grind their top and bottom teeth together while sleeping.

The motion of teeth grinding puts intense pressure on the gums, which can cause them to recede over time.

Teeth grinding can also cause teeth to become loose in their sockets. Grinding creates deep pockets between the tooth and the gum, where bacteria can collect. These bacteria trigger gum inflammation, which can make gum recession worse.



Sustaining direct trauma to the gum tissue may cause the gums to recede in that area. Such injuries may occur in the following contexts:

  • during a fall or other accident
  • during dental procedures
  • while wearing ill fitting partial dentures
  • while playing contact sports