As a kid, you were probably curious about the comings and goings happening in your body. It’s normal. And for the most part, it’s a good learning experience. Each new discovery about yourself becomes a fun discussion point with your parents or a trusted adult. For some, however, this phase of exploration never really passes. What might seem like a quirky part of your anatomy can be a source of anxiety for upcoming hypochondriacs, like discovering a white patch inside your cheek. But what is that white line on your cheek where your teeth meet?
For a good portion of us, we might’ve noticed that white patch after engaging in a bout of cheek biting. Or maybe you felt it ache for one reason or another. And it’s for that reason why some people might take that white line on their cheek where their teeth meet as a sign of some grave illness. But it’s not like that at all, as you might find out.
So, what is that white line? And what does it do, exactly?
Learning More About the Linea Alba
First off, what is that line? It’s called the linea alba, which literally means “white line.” To understand what it does, we’ll need to understand another part of your mouth: the buccal mucosa. Essentially, this is the inner lining of your cheeks. When you accidentally bite down on the area, a reaction occurs. The area where you bit down appears to rise like a white ridge, hence the name.
But why does this happen? Think of it as something similar to getting a callous. When you play the guitar, for instance, you might find that your fingertips have hardened into fleshy lumps. The same happens when you get a linea alba. When subjected to constant friction, that area of the buccal mucosa gains keratin deposits and hardens. From there, it might initially resemble a white patch, turning into a horizontal white line on the cheek where teeth meet.
How do you get these keratin deposits, however? This usually results from continuous irritation. The more it gets irritated, the thicker it becomes, making it more visible. Cheek biting, in particular, causes it to look more prominent. And fortunately, it’s harmless for the most part.
What Happens When the White Line Inside Your Cheek Hurts?
Now that we know what causes the linea alba—or the white line within your cheek where your teeth meet—what happens when it starts hurting? This can arise for several reasons:
- Cheek biting. When the linea alba thickens, it becomes easier to bite as it does so. Even if you try to avoid it, you might find yourself cheek biting regardless.
- Canker sores. Sometimes what seems like a linea alba isn’t one at all. If your “linea alba” looks more like a white patch or a series of white patches, it might not just be a harmless case of linea alba. It could actually be a canker sore. If the sores do not heal, bleed, keep recurring, or appear in several, you may need a checkup with a dentist. This may be a sign of something more serious.
So, what can you do when that white line inside your cheek hurts? Nothing, as it turns out. As long as you prevent yourself from irritating the area further, you should be just fine.