Does pencil chewing lead to lead poisoning?

In general, the chewing of pencils is considered a childlike pattern of behavior, which one knows especially from own school days. But even adults are occasionally attacked by this habit. Especially people who sit a lot at the desk and have to work concentrated for a long time are tempted to nibble at the end of the pencil. Lost in thought, the end of the pencil wanders unnoticed in the direction of the mouth and is already nibbled off.
Some of the "pinchers" get a guilty conscience over time, because they fear to wear tooth damage or even to take poisonous lead. But can chewing pencils actually cause lead poisoning?

No lead, but graphite

No, here all-clear can be given. Because the eponymous substance is not contained in the pen. What gives the pencil its color is graphite - chemically a crystallized carbon and completely harmless to the notorious "chewer". But how did the misunderstanding come about?

Simply because hundreds of years ago it was assumed that lead and graphite are the same. However, lead was never used for writing and so you can calmly put this fear on record.

Why do you chew pens?

Regular chewing can be a sign of psychosomatic tension. For many people, the pencil serves as a kind of valve to reduce stress.

Especially in activities that require a lot of attention, the pencil is gladly used. Lost in thought, some nibble the wooden border down to the mine. This is the way to chew pencils, especially during school lessons or in the office. And not without reason: allegedly, the chewing of pencils should even promote concentration.

But also boredom, dreaminess and hunger can be reasons, why you reach for the pen. Hardly anyone has not done it yet. However, pencil chewing becomes questionable when the teeth and jaw are suffering or because of psychological stress. If necessary, you should contact a doctor or psychotherapist here.

What is the risk of harm to pencil chewing?

In addition to thumb sucking and nail biting, chewing pencils or other writing utensils can cause the jaw to deform during the growth process. Therefore, frequent childhood chewing should be monitored and, if necessary, discussed with the dentist or orthodontist.

When chewing wood splinters can also solve the pencil and drill into the gums. This can cause inflammation in the mouth. Especially for toddlers there is a risk that fragile parts of the pencil will be swallowed. Parents should therefore pay particular attention to unbreakable writing and painting utensils.

Toxic paints in the pens

Since the beginning of the 1990s, well-known manufacturers have been using environmentally friendly water-based paints, or have decided not to paint their pens. As a rule, the outer coating of the pencils should therefore not be harmful to health.
When purchasing colored pencils, care should be taken to ensure that the EU standard DIN EN 71 is noted on the packaging. This sets guidelines for the proportion of heavy metals and ensures that the pens are free of toxic dyes.

Tips for weaning the pencil chewing

In order not to fall back into the old pattern during the concentration phase, you can follow the following tips and tricks:

  • Instead of sticking to nuts, fruits or chewing gum better.
  • Use concentration and relaxation exercises to balance your body.
  • Talk to your dentist and orthodontist, who usually have individual tips.

Until weaning, you can minimize the negative consequences of frequent chewing on pencils. Buy pencils with shatterproof mines and a natural wood shaft.

Be careful with pen covers

Another way to get rid of the chewing of pencils is to cover the end of the pencil with a cover, such as a rubber figure. There are many so-called pencil toppers and spring covers in the trade, which should also decorate the pen. However, these covers can easily be swallowed and should therefore remain out of the reach of children.

Many of the rubber figures are also made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic that may contain carcinogenic plasticizers. Pen covers are therefore less recommended for weaning the pencil chewing.

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