What is this lump inside my cheek near my wisdom teeth?

lump inside the cheek near wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth, being the last to erupt, are known to cause many problems. As they often do not find enough room to fit, they grow in the wrong direction. They can then bite and injure the cheeks when chewing, resulting in painful ulcerations or sometimes a small whitish, lumpy lesion.

Other complications can also occur during the development of wisdom teeth, such as cysts, benign tumors, or infections.

Most of these complications are not very serious and disappear as soon as you have your wisdom tooth removed. However, to avoid likely complications, don't delay seeing your dentist as soon as you notice a lump on your cheek or around a growing wisdom tooth. He will assess the situation and provide you with the appropriate treatment.

What does a lump in the cheek near the wisdom teeth likely mean?

When wisdom teeth appear slightly tilted in the mouth, with the chewing surface pointed at the cheek, they can cause irritation and lead to ulcers or lumpy lesions.

The most common type of lump that results from repeating and continuous minor irritations is known as Fibroma. It is the most frequent benign tumor in the mouth, especially in older adults between 30-50 years old.

It can also occur independently of the wisdom tooth, for example, if you often bite your cheek or wear an orthodontic appliance or an old and ill-fitting denture.

In fact, Fibroma is a defense mechanism of our body to overcome chronic aggression. The cells in the area involved proliferate rapidly and overproduce collagen. As a result, a hard, round, and painless mass of about 1-2 centimeters in diameter appears. Its coating is usually similar to the surrounding tissue, however, when you injure or bite it, it can become inflamed and turn red or white.

fibroma inside the cheeks

Fibroma inside the cheeks

Another lesion that can appear inside the cheek is called mucocele. This is a bluish, fluid-filled, blister-like cyst that can occur when you have damaged a salivary gland. For example, if you accidentally bit your cheek, you may have damaged a duct in the salivary gland that drains saliva into the mouth. This could result in a blockage of saliva inside the cheek resulting in a swollen spot.

mucocele on the lip

Mucocele on the lips

Treatment usually involves surgical removal of the growth. If the wisdom tooth is causing you discomfort or if the problem recurs in the future, you may need to extract the tooth.

Other lumpy lesions that may be associated with wisdom teeth:

Various symptoms can coincide with the evolution and eruption of wisdom teeth. Again, most of these are benign and should not be a cause for concern as long as you have them checked by your dentist.

The different types of lump lesions that can occur near the wisdom teeth include:

1. Infection:

One of the most common causes of swelling in the wisdom teeth area is an infection of the gum overlying the tooth, also known as pericoronitis. This happens when the tooth has just appeared above your gum but has not finished its eruption.

Bacteria and food debris can be trapped in this area and cause an infection of the gum surrounding the tooth.

Sometimes, a small piece of gum can partially cover the tooth and rub against the opposite teeth, aggravating the infection and pain.

Common symptoms of pericoronitis include:
  • Severe pain
  • Pus discharge
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Bad breath and bad taste in the mouth
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Fever, loss of appetite, and swollen lymph nodes under the lower jaw

Left untreated, the infection can spread to the cheeks, causing diffuse swelling. This condition is called infectious cellulitis and can be life-threatening in advanced stages.

If you notice a sign of infection, see your dentist as soon as possible to assess and treat the problem. He will clean and flush the area to remove food debris. He may also prescribe painkillers, mouthwash, and antibiotics to give you relief and clear the infection.

If the problem persists or occurs often, you may need to remove your wisdom tooth.

2. Cyst and tumor:

It is not uncommon to see a cyst or benign tumor around an emerging wisdom tooth, especially if it is impacted (embedded in the bone).

A study of 5486 impacted third molars found that the frequency of cysts was 2.24%, tumors 1.16% of which 0.05% were malignant.

Usually, in their early stages, they develop silently and without symptoms. However, when they reach a significant size, they can deform the jawbone and even the face. This is why you should check your wisdom teeth regularly with your dentist to detect any problems early and prevent possible complications.

3. Cheek ulcers:

If your wisdom tooth rubs excessively against your cheek, it can eventually cause a painful ulcer.

4. Other benign tumors of the cheek:

Other benign tumors on the cheek can be caused by:
  • Viral infection, particularly by the human papillomavirus.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases.
  • Salivary gland tumors.

Most of these are benign, evolve slowly and locally, and do not spread to other tissues. Generally, treatment consists of surgical excision followed by microscopic examination to confirm the diagnosis.

Other symptoms that can be associated with wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth can evolve silently for years and then suddenly cause problems. Symptoms that can be associated with wisdom teeth eruption include:

  • Localized or radiating pain: The pain may be felt locally in the wisdom teeth area or extend to the jaws, ears and temporomandibular joint. It is a sign that the wisdom teeth are progressing through the bone and gums to their final position.
  • Gum Inflammation: Red, swollen, bleeding gums in the back of the mouth can be associated with wisdom teeth.
  • Infection: Wisdom teeth are more vulnerable to infection. Their position sometimes makes them hard to reach by the toothbrush, making them frequently affected by cavities. Symptoms include pain, swelling and redness of the gums, pus discharge, difficulty chewing and opening the mouth, and fever.

How can I reduce the discomfort caused by a lump on my cheeks?

When you notice a lump near your wisdom tooth, the first thing to think about is seeing your dentist as soon as possible to identify the cause and decide on the appropriate treatment.

The lump may be asymptomatic and not cause any pain. However, if you feel pain or discomfort, there are steps you can take to relieve yourself in the meantime.

  • Make sure you practice good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) to reduce the bacterial load in your mouth and remove food debris whenever possible. This will avoid serious infectious complications that will be more difficult to manage.
  • Gently rinse your mouth four times a day with an alcohol-free mouthwash or saltwater with half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol.
  • Alternate between hot and cold compresses for up to 10 minutes and see which one is the most relieving. Inflammation is often relieved by cold, while muscle pain is better relieved by heat or massage.
  • Avoid scratching or biting the lump, as this can trigger or worsen the infection.

  1. Prevalence of cysts and tumors around the retained and unerupted third molars in the Indian population https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4252379/
  2. Fibroma epidemiology and demographics https://www.wikidoc.org/index.php/Fibroma_epidemiology_and_demographics/
  3. Oral Medicine - Book by Michael A. O. Lewis and Richard C. K. Jordan
  4. Essentials of Oral Pathology - Book by Swapan Kumar Purkait