Why would my dentist recommend an oral biopsy?

Today our Greenfield Park dentists discuss the oral biopsy procedure as well as answer some of the most common questions asked about this dental surgery.

What is an oral biopsy?

An oral biopsy is a surgical procedure that collects tissue from a patient’s oral cavity so it can be examined, this is usually performed so a diagnosis can be made.

Why would my dentist recommend an oral biopsy?

If you have a lesion that is impacting your oral function, you might require a biopsy so the cause can be diagnosed and the proper treatment can be given. There could also be inflammatory changes that are affecting the bone lesions or oral cavity that your dentist can't identify with clinical examination or X-rays.

Your dentist may also conduct a biopsy if they believe you might have oral cancer (that is seen in the neck, head, or mouth). If you have already been diagnosed with cancer, a biopsy could help find the source, stage, and extent of cancer.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are able to diagnose and treat many injuries and illnesses that affect the mouth, jaw, face, and neck. At your appointment, a comprehensive examination of your neck and head will be conducted as well as an oral biopsy. We might also refer you to an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor).

As part of your oral biopsy, a small sample of the suspicious tissue will be removed from your oropharynx or mouth and sent to a pathologist, where it will be checked for disease. A custom treatment plan will then be developed based on the information stated in the pathologist’s report.

The Different Kinds of Oral Biopsies

Below we have listed the 6 types of oral biopsies:

Aspiration Biopsy

A needle and syringe are used to remove a sample of cells or contents from a lesion. If the oral surgeon is not able to drain fluid or air, it may mean the lesion is solid.

Brush Biopsy

The surgeon applies firm pressure with a circular brush, rotating it to pick up cellular material that will later be transferred to a glass slide, preserved, and dried.


This type of oral biopsy aids in the diagnosis of lesions in the oral cavity. These lesions may be caused by infections, herpes, or post-radiation changes.

Though individual cells can be examined, an accurate and definitive diagnosis may not be possible without an excisional or incisional biopsy also being performed.

Excisional Biopsy

Performed for small oral lesions (typically measuring less than 1 cm) that appear benign during a clinical exam, an excisional biopsy completely removes the lesion.

Incisional Biopsy

Your surgeon will complete this type of biopsy to obtain a representative sample of the oral lesion. If your oral lesion is large or has differing characteristics, more than one area may need to be sampled.

Punch Biopsy

Best suited for diagnosing oral manifestations of ulcerative and mucocutaneous conditions of the oral cavity (such as lichen planus), a punch biopsy is completed using a punch tool.

How can I prepare for my oral biopsy?

There isn't much you need to do to prepare yourself for your oral biopsy appointment. If your biopsy is being performed on part of a bone, your dentist will recommend having X-rays or CT scans taken first. They will also ask you not to have anything to eat in the few hours leading up to the biopsy.

When you arrive, you’ll probably be asked to rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. Dentists typically use local anesthesia and you will probably be awake during the procedure. Although, you may be given general anesthesia if the lesion is located in an area of the mouth that is difficult to reach.

Are oral biopsies painful?

You shouldn’t feel pain during the procedure – perhaps just a sharp pinprick or pinch as a local anesthetic is injected, or as the needle is used to take the biopsy. The use of instruments may also result in some minor pressure as the sample is collected.

After the anesthesia wears off, depending on where the biopsy was performed the site may feel sore for several days. You may want to stick to soft foods and take over-the-counter medication for pain (avoid taking NSAIDS, which can increase the risk for bleeding).

If you experience significant pain from the biopsy, you may be prescribed pain medications.

Do you have questions about your upcoming oral biopsy? Our Greenfield Park dentists can address any inquiries or concerns.

Don't hesitate to contact our Greenfield Park dentists with any questions you might have about an upcoming oral biopsy at Clinique Dentaire Dr. S. Sgro & Dr. J. Lang or to schedule an appointment.

(450) 465-1023