A guide to Biopsy in dentistry

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is a simple surgery that removes samples of soft tissue or bone from the body. In the case of dentists, this may be gum tissue, a tooth, or a jaw piece. Biopsies are performed when the dentist or the physician wants to take a look at the sample in the laboratory. The goal is to find the sources of the abnormalities or lesions. They may be caused by illnesses or injuries. The lesions may be in the area of soft tissue or bone that looks abnormal. This can be a lump or a patch of skin that has a different colour or texture.

There are two types of biopsies and they are the incisional and the excisional. Incisional biopsies will remove a piece of tissue from the lesion and sample it while an excisional biopsy will remove the entire lesion altogether.

Determining what type of biopsy will be performed will depend on several factors. For instance, if the lesion is tiny and the dentist thinks that it is benign or not cancerous then an excisional biopsy will be made although if the lesion is large and there is a chance that it is malignant or cancerous then incsional biopsies will be made.

What are biopsies used for?

Biopsies are used for removing lesions altogether or partially so that they can be examined in the laboratory. Biopsies are usually done because your dentist of your physician thinks that the lesion is cancerous. Biopsies are also performed to diagnose other non-cancerous cases.

How do you prepare for a biopsy?

For an oral biopsy, you will have to use an antibacterial rinse in order to prevent any infections. Your surgeon will also stain your mouth in order to highlight the lesion. If a bone biopsy is needed then you will need x-rays or computed tomography scans prior to the surgery. For adults, oral biopsies are done at the office using local anaesthesia when the patient is fully conscious.

How is a biopsy done?

Lesions of soft tissue are removed using a scalpel or a laser and then the area is sutured closed. If there is a lesion in the bone then you will need access to it. A drill can be used to remove bone that is covering the lesion and then the tissue over the bone is stitched closed afterwards.

What are the follow-up procedures for a biopsy?

You could take over-the-counter pain relievers if you are experiencing discomfort in your mouth. You should eat soft foods, rinse with warm saltwater, and use antibacterial rinses for the first few days. You may also need to take antibiotics. You should return to your dentist after two weeks in order to get the results of the biopsy and make sure that you are healing properly.

What are the risks of a biopsy?

Certain types of oral surgery will cause bleeding for several days and if there is excessive bleeding from a biopsy then you must get in touch with your oral surgeon. There is a small chance that the area will be infected after the surgery. This is because there are so many bacteria in the mouth. Surgeons will recommend that you use antibacterial rinses, antibiotics, and maybe even both in order to minimize the risks of infection. During the surgery, there is a risk that your surgeon will damage some of the nerves and blood vessels. X-rays and your surgeon’s knowledge of anatomy will help you minimize these risks.

If there is increased swelling, chills, fever, and persistent bleeding or numbness after a biopsy then you should get in touch with your oral surgeon right away.