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Why is licking your lips a bad idea?

Shari Green
Dental Hygiene
Licking your lips initially may seem inconsequential. However, a persistent and irritating habit can develop rather quickly over time. Basically, when someone licks their lips and surrounding area, that area becomes dry. When that individual experiences that dryness as discomfort, they lick again to re-moisten...and so on and so forth. Eventually this sets up a vicious cycle. Licking the lips also may encourage inappropriate rest position of the tongue and jaw. In someone, for example, with already-challenged tongue rest posture, i.e., tongue thrust, this chronic lip licking serves to perpetuate these oral postural issues as well. Over time, significant changes in oral rest postures may need to be addressed with myofunctional therapy to re-establish proper oral muscle patterns and placement through orofacial myofunctional exercises.

Licking your lips can actually dry them out. Saliva contains digestive enzymes -- including amylase and maltase -- that wear the lips' thin skin down, leaving them vulnerable to environmental exposure like dry air.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.