Your general dentist may refer you to our office for a surgical biopsy after detecting abnormal tissue in your mouth or throat during an examination. This can include a small growth, a white or reddish patch in the mouth, unusual pain in the mouth or ear, loose teeth, or difficulty swallowing. Be sure to discuss any concerns about any persistent growth or unusual pain you may detect in your mouth with your team during the assessment. This is also the ideal time to discuss risk factors that may increase your risk of mouth cancer such as smoking, heavy drinking, or human polyomavirus (HPV).
Although most biopsies are benign, it’s incredibly important to assess any unusual oral growth or lesion. During your biopsy, your NTFOS surgeon may administer local anesthesia to numb the affected area and remove a portion of tissue or the entire growth/lesion. This usually produces a small hole that might require stitching (typically with dissolvable stitches). A sample may take about 10 to 20 seconds to collect, and the entire procedure should not last longer than 20 minutes. A pathologist will then examine the biopsy tissue and provide us with written findings. We’ll work in tandem with your general dentist to evaluate the need for treatment if the results of your biopsy deem that treatment is indeed necessary.
What to expect afterwards
As biopsies are typically simple, minimally invasive procedures, you can expect little swelling and pain after the local anesthetic wears off. Discomfort can typically be managed with over the counter painkillers, and discomfort should only last a few days. Many people are able to resume normal activities such as driving and work after the procedure.
Although bleeding should be prevented by stitching, some do experience this issue after the procedure. This can be stopped by applying pressure to the site for 10 minutes with absorbent material. Be sure to contact your NTFOS surgeon if the bleeding does not stop.
Other aftercare tips include being sure not to bite or strain the side of your mouth to prevent pain and bleeding. You can and should brush and floss your teeth normally, but be sure to keep from rinsing your mouth out too vigorously. You may gently rinse with saltwater or mouthwash if you find food around your stitches.
You will most likely be given a second appointment to discuss any issues you may have with healing and to discuss the results of the biopsy anywhere from 2 to 10 days after your procedure.