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Attending to the Need to Chew: The Negative Effects of Obsessive Chewing

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The urge to chew on things is a problem shared by many. However, while many parents and dog owners work together to find answers, adult chewers often struggle in silence, wondering why they can't stop chewing on things. If this is you, then you may be one of approximately 500,000 Australians that suffer from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). The obsessive behaviours of this group vary, but one of the known rituals is the overwhelming desire to chew on things.

If you have struggled with this issue you may be wondering just what it means for the future of your teeth. Armed with this knowledge, you may be able to better motivate yourself to seek the help you need to end this problem once and for all.

Here is a breakdown of the possible complications you may encounter:

Worn Enamel

Although human teeth have been shown to be as strong as sharks' teeth, with constant use; like anything, they will wear out. This is especially true when you consider that human teeth were not designed to chew on anything other than our food, which tends to be soft.

If the enamel surface of your teeth wears down enough, the acid produced by the bacteria living on the surface of your teeth may break through the remaining layer. If this happens, a cavity will form and the tooth will begin to decay.

Deep cavities that have penetrated to the nerve chamber will eventually cause the death of the nerve and you will then need a root canal and crown to repair the damage.

Chipped and Broken Teeth

When chewing hard items like plastic lids and pens, a tooth may chip or even break, and again, this will eventually lead to the formation of a cavity. Make sure you see your dentist as soon as possible if one of your teeth breaks.

It is only a matter of time before the cavity reaches the nerve chamber once the enamel has been breached by tooth decay.

Damaged Gums

Obsessive chewing may also harm your gums. When your gums become irritated they recede, pulling away from the teeth. Because part of your gums' job is to protect the weaker neck of your teeth, if they recede due to irritation, that vulnerable part of your teeth will be exposed to decay-causing bacteria.

If you suffer from this condition and can't seem to stop yourself from chewing on things like pens, you should make sure you visit your dentist regularly to ensure your teeth are in good condition. You could even ask your dentist to create a custom mouth guard for you. This may help protect your teeth whenever you get the urge to chew. 

Do you need root canal therapy? If so, contact your local dentist today!