If your dentist has suggested an oral biopsy, you probably have questions! In this post, we discuss why dentists perform oral biopsies, what to expect, and what happens after the procedure.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of the word biopsy is “the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids from the living body.” Usually, when you have a biopsy, it’s because your doctor or dentist suspects you may have a disease of some kind, most often because you have symptoms, such as a lesion, in your mouth.
The highly trained experts at all six locations of Solomon Family Dentistry look for signs of cancer or other disease during your regular exams. When they see abnormalities they may perform a biopsy to better understand the cause of the problem. In this post we talk about what you should expect during and after a biopsy.
Why you need a biopsy
If you have unusual bumps or growths anywhere in your mouth, your dentist may order a biopsy, which means they remove a small amount of tissue and send it to a lab so that it can be analyzed.
Once your dentist receives the results, they have a better understanding of what kinds of treatment you need. Some of the issues that may require a biopsy include:
- A sore in your mouth that isn’t healing
- A sore that doesn’t appear to have any obvious cause
- A bump or growth anywhere in your mouth
- Red or white patches in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Pain, either in your mouth, ear, or when you swallow
A biopsy is the best way for your doctor to understand why you’re having any of these issues.
What to expect during a biopsy
We discuss your situation with you before scheduling an appointment for a biopsy, so you have plenty of information about your specific situation. Generally, biopsies are performed under local anesthetic, so you’re comfortable during the procedure.
In some cases, we use general anesthesia, especially if the lesion is in a difficult-to-reach part of your mouth. If that’s the case for you, you’ll know ahead of time so that you can arrange for someone to drive you.
Some biopsies are incisional, which means we make a small incision to remove the tissue. Sometimes we remove the entire lesion, which is called an excisional biopsy. Other types of biopsies are percutaneous, where we use a needle to remove tissue, and brush biopsies, where we gather cells to examine by rubbing a brush against the affected area.
The type of biopsy you have, the area of your mouth where the lesion is located, and other factors like your overall health, all make a difference in whether you have pain or discomfort after the procedure. We discuss all of that before the procedure so you know what to expect in your specific circumstances.
What happens after your biopsy
Aside from personal instructions on caring for your mouth after the biopsy, you may be wondering what to expect. When your results come back from the lab, we schedule an appointment so that we can explain your results and what they mean.
If you need a referral to a specialist, we provide that, or if we can create a treatment plan for you, we talk to you about it and make suggestions. Biopsies can confirm several different diagnoses including a benign mouth lesion or infection.
Early diagnosis of many different conditions, including oral cancer, offer the chance of a better outcome than a delayed diagnosis. The sooner you get treatment, the better off you are. If you have a bump, lesion, or other oral health issue, schedule your appointment at Solomon Family Dentistry today.