The permanent dead skin has got to go...
June 21, 2016 10:21 AM   Subscribe

For the past five years, I've had a patch of dead skin on the inside of my cheek. I am determined to get to the bottom of it...

For the past five years, there has been a ~1"x1" thick patch of dead skin on the inside of my left cheek. Sometimes its on the right side and the inside of my bottom lip too, but is usually contained to one side. I tend to bite it off without thinking about it, but have certainly tried many times to not nibble at it to see if it would heal and go away. Some days, there will be less dead skin, then I'll wake up the next morning to a thick layer of it! I have asked dentists and doctors about it casually, all whom usually answer with something along the lines of "looks like dead skin. meh." So, there doesn't seem to be a huge cause for concern, but to be honest, I'm sick of it and would like it to be gone!

It doesn't seem to be associated with toothpaste, as I usually buy a different toothpaste each time I use one up. I brush regularly, floss alllllmost regularly (I know, I know) and generally eat pretty healthy (less processed foods, less white flour, sugar, mostly vegan with cheese/ice cream once and a while etc). I don't drink soda, and usually have 1-2 alcoholic drinks per week. I'm on a few meds right now, but it was there before them so I don't think they're the cause of it. Sometimes, I use my toothbrush to gently scrub at it, but that doesn't seem to be a long term solution. It looks white/transluscent (although is not thrush. A doctor has confirmed this) and just like you think dead mouth skin would look like.

My inclination is that it is caused by a food allergy.

Does anyone have any anecdotal advice/information? It has been such a thorn in my side for the past few years and although doesn't seem like a huge deal, I would love for it to clear up. It certainly drives me crazy some days.
posted by eggs to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have asked dentists and doctors about it casually
Ask them more directly, and tell them that you are concerned about it, and would like it taken care of. If your doctor balks, ask for a referral or start shopping around for a new GP.

My inclination is that it is caused by a food allergy.
Exploring that inclination is a great activity for your doctor, not internet strangers.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:33 AM on June 21, 2016 [8 favorites]

My no-relevant-expertise guess at additional possibilities would include that your teeth could be doing it in your sleep (eg maybe when your jaw closes while you sleep your cheek gets pinched or bitten, or maybe when sleep on your face it pushes cheek into a rough bit of tooth or something like that?).
posted by anonymisc at 10:43 AM on June 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

Can you remember the names of the toothpastes you have used? Google for ingredients and see if there's something they all have in common. Consider trying a new toothpaste without the problem ingredient (except you probably do want flouride since it is actually doing something; if you have a problem with it you should definitely talk to a dentist about your options).

In my case (different symptoms) the culprit might be sodium lauryl sulfate (the toothpaste I tolerate best has some but less than other brands). Most toothpastes have it, because people like the foam it makes even though it does nothing specific for your teeth - so most toothpastes make me break out in an awful chin rash.

Lastly about "ask your dentist"-- maybe you can't go immediately , but keep it in mind for the next time you do go. Explain that it is bothering you and that "eh dead skin" isn't an acceptable response. See if you can explain how it affects you negatively. Unfortunately physicians are incentivized to minimize their time per patient, so you'll have to be your own advocate. Not easy to do, and maybe not doable until you next have a checkup, but really we on the internet can't say much other than to ask when you *do* see someone next. (If you aren't seeing a dentist at all, perhaps there are low cost/sliding scale options you can ask about instead?)
posted by nat at 11:01 AM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

If it's been 5 years, you should have a serious evaluation by a doctor and I'd also try to insist on a biopsy.
posted by quince at 11:16 AM on June 21, 2016 [6 favorites]

Streptococcus pyogenes, the pathogen of strep throat and scarlet fever, is kind of notorious for causing peeling.

It's not normally found in the mouth, but it can cause gum disease, and some people have a resident population of it in their throats without seeming to have symptoms.

So that would be my guess, particularly if you're prone to sore throats or gum disease.

There're all kinds of probiotics out there which claim to be able to displace potentially harmful bacteria from the oral cavity, though none I've seen look very credible, but I still might try swishing out my mouth with a living yogurt or kefir before bed a few times just to see what would happen.
posted by jamjam at 11:28 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had something that sounds like this - in my case, it was as anonymisc described: my jaw was closing down on my inner cheek and I had scar tissue building up. Oral surgeon excised it.
posted by sm1tten at 12:14 PM on June 21, 2016

It's unlikely that this is related to an allergy, food or otherwise. It's too localized over time for that to (likely) be the case. Food allergies tend to manifest with systemic signs and symptoms.

I'm nthing the mechanical origin possibility. This sounds an awful lot like the issues people have when they get braces (i.e. the metal scrapes the lining of the mouth in particular spots, leading to scar tissue buildup).

That said, ask a doctor formally, not casually. Maybe even suggest or ask if something like a biopsy would help confirm that this is something benign.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:23 PM on June 21, 2016

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