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What is the White Line on my Cheek?

It is a good idea to complete a thorough examination of your mouth at least once a month with good lighting.  Get to know what it looks like below your tongue, at the very back and sides of your tongue, inside of your cheeks, under your lips, and at the back of your throat.  In this way you will be able to tell if something changes.  You may have notices a white line or as we say, linea alba, running along the inside of your cheek like shown in the photo here.

See the linea alba or white line on the inside of this patient’s cheek.

This white line is often called a ‘linea alba’ by dentists and is usually harmless.  When you close your mouth, you will notice that this white line fits between the chewing surfaces of the upper and lower teeth.  In fact, the line is created by you!  Almost all people with a line like this one have some habit of tensing their cheek muscles and pulling the cheeks towards the teeth.  After repeatedly doing this probably for several weeks or months, a line of tissue forms that is like a callous.  The white color is from extra fiber in the tissue in response to being compressed between the chewing surfaces of the teeth over and over.

Sometimes this white line is so prominent that you are more likely to bite your cheek here by accident.   If this is a daytime habit it can usually be controlled by observing what you are doing with your teeth.  In our office, we tell our patients that the only time their teeth should contact is when they are chewing foods or swallowing.  In addition, if you are flexing your cheek muscles and pulling the cheek between your upper and lower arches you may also be clenching and/or grinding your teeth.  The muscles of the cheek may not even feel overworked but the trauma caused to the cheek should be eliminated.

If you do notice this habit and are able to eliminate the habit, the cheek tissue should return to normal within a couple months.  The habit may be occurring during the night when you have less control.  Sometimes you can fall asleep saying to yourself something like, ‘lips together, teeth apart’.  We can make a night guard for you that eliminates this habit during the night if the line bothers you or is there are other destructive things going on like the teeth wearing down or the jaw muscles being sore.  It is good to watch areas like this though for other changes.  Is the line getting thicker or more prominent over time?  Is there any bleeding or swelling.

Note the rough, whitish ‘gnawed on’ appearance of this patient’s cheek.

You can contrast linea alba with a cheek biting habit as shown in this photo.  The cheek looks raw where it is being chewed on.  This habit can be harmful and should be eliminated.  The skin of your cheeks acts as a barrier to prevent pathogens in the food you eat and drink from entering your bloodstream.  If you chew your cheeks like this, it is similar to having an open sore anywhere on your body and allows pathogens easier access to your bloodstream.

Our office and Dr. Julie Gillis want your whole mouth to be as healthy as possible.  If you have concerns about your mouth, please call our office at (970) 242-3635 for a consult to have these areas of concern evaluated.  You can schedule a consult for just the area of concern or a comprehensive examination of your whole mouth with Dr. Gillis and her team in our Grand Junction, Colorado dental office.

Our office offers comprehensive dental care including cleanings, tooth-colored fillings, All-porcelain crowns and veneers, Sleep Apnea appliances, periodontal care, crowns, bridges, implant restorations, dentures and partial dentures.  You can call our office at (970) 242-3635 for more information.  Please visit our website at www.juliegillisdds.com for more information.  Find Dr. Julie Gillis DDS on Facebook!  We would love to have you like and follow our dental office.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis D.D.S.

Restoring Teeth, Restoring Smiles