Clothes Chewing


Registered User
Aug 27, 2006
My mother in law suffers from severe alzheimers and recently has begun to chew her clothes. We are unsure how to stop this and her face often breaks out as she is rubbing and chewing the material.

Has any one else experienced this?

If any one has any ideas on how to stop this or anything she can wear so she cannot get the material into her mouth we would be greatful!


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
I haven't come across this before, but - and this is almost impossible to answer - could she have toothache or gum problems?

Babies chew on things when teething, and sometimes adults bite on cloth to try and do something about toothache, in the absence of anything else.

Also, teeth and gums often suffer when people are in the middle and late stages of dementia because dental regimes for cleaning no longer get done. I've had to ignore tooth problems with my wife because to try and sort them out would cause her more confusion, inconvenience and agitation than anything else.

The horrible thing is that they can no longer simply say "my teeth are aching".... along with "I have a headache/stomach ache" "I'm hungry/not hungry/feel sick/dizzy/etc"

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Sorry, nothing to offer dementia related..... I seem to be constantly nagging my son to stop drawing up the neckline of what he is wearing and biting on it..... I have recognised he does this when he is anxious about something or plain bored....

Whilst eating out recently I noted an adult with obvious mental and physical health problems who had a scarf draped around her neck.... at first it looked like a 'fashion' accesory - but was clearly a 'bib' in disguise..... once the effort of eating and associated spills was over, the scarf was discreetly removed and replaced with another...... all dignity preserved.... just wonder if there might be something in this to help..... rather than trying to 'stop her' - if it is indeed giving comfort for whatever reason - could there be a way of allowing her to 'chew' on something relatively safe????

Just a thought.... love Karen (TF), x


Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Hiya Karen,
My sons used to chew the cuffs of their school sweatshirts; and if they happen to have a remote in their hand, well they all end up having a gnaw at that!!
They must derive comfort from it I reckon.
Love Helen


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Karen, I'm another one who had clothes chewing children - my daughter would chew on the cuffs of her clothes, my son would chew on the neckband of his T shirts. Both were tension releases (personally, I'm a pen chewer). I guess we're just an orally-fixated, tense sort of family!



Registered User
Aug 27, 2006
chewing clothes

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts on this matter. I know it is not a problem with her teeth as she doesn't have any but I agree it is probably boredom!! She does have other things to chew on like a towel and a teething ring but her clothes must be tastier!! These then end up very wet and sometimes cause irritation to her chin. She also chews her nightdress and bed linen at night.

Thanks again



Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I was also a clothes chewing children
I use to love sucking my school collar
got told of about it so suck my hair still got told of .

My daughter all
Suck there thum (sp) One of them had a favoured sheet that she would rub stuck on with thum(sp) in the mouth . I would say like Tender face said its a confort (Soothing feeling ) yes very messy annpatterson30 could you not just give your mother in Law a sheet of her own to suck on at night time ?.

PS There is a cream that in the chemist that you can get for your MIL as I remember the side of my lips on my face use to get sore
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