When I bite down lightly on the inside of my lower lip, I feel something resembling little balls. What are they?
October 11, 2007 11:46 PM   Subscribe

When I bite down lightly on the inside of my lower lip, I feel something resembling little balls moving between my teeth, as though it were full of the stuff that's inside a hacky-sack. What are those little balls?

Note that this isn't a question about any odd medical condition -- I'm under the impression that everyone has these little ball-like things.

Extra credit: When I close my eyes, then pinch my closed eyelids, I hear and feel a tiny "squinch" noise, and feel a mass between my fingers that feels separate from my eye. (Obviously, I do this lightly.) Am I squeezing a part of my eye (such as my cornea) when I do this, or am I simply manipulating a vacuum inside my closed eye? (I've discussed this matter with friends before and opinion is divided.)
posted by tweebiscuit to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A Fordyce spot or granule, also called a minor salivary gland or sebaceous gland.

Recent related AskMe.

The answer to your extra credit question is that you are everting your superior tarsal plate. This is basically some stiff connective tissue inside your top eyelid.

There are better pictures kicking around of the tarsal plates than the one in the wikipedia article (from Gray's) but some of them are rather graphic and surgical.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:52 PM on October 11, 2007

Hmm, I think tweebiscuit means something else... the little "balls" aren't raised but are rather deep under the surface of the lower lip, extending down to the gumline. You can only feel them when you apply pressure with your tongue or catch them between your teeth...

Very curious about this myself!
posted by QueSeraSera at 2:12 AM on October 12, 2007

I've got these too. I always assumed they were lumps of scar tissue, from biting the inside of my lip, accidently.
posted by Sar at 3:53 AM on October 12, 2007

Adipose tissue?
posted by Jakob at 4:07 AM on October 12, 2007

I'm interested too; and now, thanks to tweed, I'll be nibbling the inside of my lower lip for the rest of the day.
posted by craven_morhead at 5:57 AM on October 12, 2007

I've got 'em. I think we all do. It's not scar tissue. What is it?
posted by wsg at 7:34 AM on October 12, 2007

I've got them on my upper lip as well, although they're not as prominent/noticeable up there.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:57 AM on October 12, 2007

I never noticed them until reading this question, but I've got them too.

For anybody else who decides to wikipedia "Fordyce Spot" from ikkyu2's answer, note that the entry may be considered in some offices to be NSFW.
posted by vytae at 8:04 AM on October 12, 2007

Buccal glands maybe?

" The Cheeks (buccæ) form the sides of the face, and are continuous in front with the lips. They are composed externally of integument; internally of mucous membrane; and between the two of a muscular stratum, besides a large quantity of fat, areolar tissue, vessels, nerves, and buccal glands"

See here and here .

Or these guys: In the serous alveoli the cells almost completely fill the cavity, so that there is hardly any lumen perceptible; they contain secretory granules imbedded in a closely reticulated protoplasm (Fig. 1026). The cells are more cubical than those of the mucous type; the nucleus of each is spherical and placed near the center of the cell, and the granules are smaller.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:50 AM on October 12, 2007

Another previous ask here.
posted by abcde at 12:40 PM on October 12, 2007

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