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

lump inside the cheek near wisdom teeth
A lump on the cheek, especially near the wisdom tooth, can mean many things. These teeth are known to cause several problems, partly because they are the last teeth to appear, so they often don't have enough room to fit correctly. But, a lump inside the cheek near a wisdom tooth does not always mean that it originates from it. It may be due to a usually benign tumor, which is not so serious and life-threatening.

Given the likely complications, the first thing to do when you notice a lump on your cheek is to see a dentist.

What can a lump inside the cheeks near the wisdom teeth mean?

A lump on the cheek near wisdom teeth can have different forms. The symptoms vary depending on the cause and range from mild discomfort to severe pain. The first thing you have to do is to see a dentist. He will evaluate the bump to see if it is the result of the wisdom tooth. If so, extraction may be necessary.

In other circumstances the cheek lump is triggered by other factors. Generally, they evolve slowly, locally, and do not spread to other tissues.
Your dentist may send you to a specialist for further examination in order to make an accurate diagnosis and provide the appropriate treatment.
Among the different types of lumpy lesions that can occur near the wisdom teeth:

1. Infection

The most common cause of swelling in the wisdom teeth area is an infection of the gum overlying the tooth, also called pericoronitis. This happens when the tooth has just emerged from the gumline and has not yet finished erupting.

Bacteria and food debris will accumulate 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

In extreme cases, the infection can spread to the cheeks, causing swelling in that area. This condition is called infectious cellulitis and can be serious in advanced stages.

If these symptoms appear, see your dentist as soon as possible to assess and treat the problem. He may suggest removing the gum tissue around your wisdom tooth or extraction if the tooth is not salvageable. He may also prescribe antibiotics if the infection has already set in. While waiting for the appointment, be sure to clean and unclog the area, even if it's painful, to avoid a buildup that could worsen the problem.

2. Cyst

It is not uncommon to see a cyst or benign tumor around a wisdom tooth, especially if it is embedded in the bone. A lump may appear on the face.

The wisdom tooth may develop inside a bag in the jawbone. When this bag fills with fluid and becomes lined with cells, it is called a cyst.

At first, you won't notice it because it grows silently without causing any symptoms. But later, it can cause noticeable swelling and deformation of the jawbone.

It is recommended to have the cyst or tumor removed, as both can damage the jawbone and surrounding teeth.

3. Cheek injury

It occurs especially when the wisdom tooth grows in the wrong direction, making the crown point towards the cheek. Over time, rubbing the tooth against the cheek can cause a painful ulcer.

Accidental biting of the cheek can also damage the salivary glands in the cheek, resulting in a condition called mucocele. It occurs when the salivary gland duct that drains saliva to the mouth is injured, causing saliva to pool inside the cheek. The lesion appears as a bluish, blister-like bump on the cheek.

Sometimes a malpositioned wisdom tooth can irritate the cheek and cause a kind of whitish lesion called keratosis. They disappear quickly after the extraction of these teeth.

4. Benign tumor of the cheek

A lump on the cheek may indicate a benign tumor. The most common causes are continuous irritation due to different factors, such as ill-fitting dentures, viral infection, particularly by the human papillomavirus, certain autoimmune diseases and salivary gland tumors. These conditions affect the tissue that lines the inside of the cheek and trigger rapid cell proliferation, resulting in a mass that may be hard or soft. Most of these tumors are not serious and are removed surgically.

Other symptoms that can be associated with wisdom teeth

The eruption of wisdom teeth can be associated with different symptoms. Even if they have been asymptomatic for years, they can suddenly cause problems, hence the importance of regular follow-up by a dentist.
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 difficult to clean by toothbrushing, 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 to reduce the discomfort due to a lump near wisdom teeth?

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 schedule the appropriate treatment.

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort related to the lump, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain while waiting to see your dentist.

  • 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 medication 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.