The Frederick Dental Group has become one of the most respected and trusted dental practices in the Frederick, MD, area. Although perhaps best known for our work on dental hygiene and health, and cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry, we also provide services related to other oral health issues, such as oral biopsy.

What Is an Oral Biopsy and Why Is It Done?

Throughout the medical field, a biopsy is simply the removal of a tissue sample to determine if the presence of disease. In dentistry, teeth and gums are sent for biopsy as well. The role of a biopsy is to diagnose oral cancer. In these instances, a brush biopsy or a tissue sample is taken and used to identify oral lesions that warrant further attention.

If you have unexplained lesions in your mouth, they need to be examined by a dentist. They may or may not be cancerous, but they need medical attention nonetheless.

Sometimes, during a regular dental procedure, your dentist may notice some change in your mouth or throat. Or, you may notice a change between visits to the dentist. These changes can include:

  • A lesion or sore in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks
  • A thickening or lump in the cheek
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth
  • Numbness of the tongue or another area of the mouth
  • Swelling of the jaw that makes dentures uncomfortable or fit poorly

These symptoms can be caused by various reasons, but it is best to have them checked out by a dental professional. Dentists are trained in simple and brief screening of the entire oral cavity, not just the teeth. The dentist will check for white or red patches, ulcerations, lumps and loose teeth. He or she will also review dental x-rays for unusual indications. After this comprehensive physical examination, the dentist may decide that a biopsy is needed.

How Is an Oral Biopsy Done?

The biopsy is used to remove a small sample of bone or tissue so that the sample can be examined in a laboratory. The two most common types of tissue biopsy are incisional and excisional. In an incisional biopsy, a piece of tissue is removed from a lesion or other suspect area, as a sample. An excisional biopsy removes the whole lesion or area. In both cases, the removed tissue is sent to a laboratory for study. The choice of biopsy is based on several factors. If the lesion is small, or the dentist thinks it is non-cancerous, often an excisional biopsy is performed. But, if the dentist is concerned that the tissue might be cancerous, usually he or she will perform an incisional biopsy.

The dentist may also decide to perform a more recently developed type of biopsy, called a brush biopsy: A sample of cells is collected by rubbing a brush against the area in question. This can be helpful in a preliminary study of a suspect area, but if there is evidence of a problem, the procedure has to be confirmed with a more conventional biopsy.

Following the biopsy, sutures may or may not be used to close the wound.

What Happens Next?

Following an oral biopsy, a patient can take over-the-counter pain relievers to ease discomfort.

To aid their healing, and to be more comfortable, your Frederick Dental Group dentist will recommend a protocol to follow for the next 24 hours.