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Understanding 3 Types of Gum Biopsies

Feb 22, 2023
Understanding 3 Types of Gum Biopsies
One of the most useful tools for diagnosing problems in your gums is a biopsy. Here, we review the three different ways we might conduct this simple procedure.

You have a suspicious discoloring in your gum tissue or your gums are swollen more often than not. These are just two instances in which a gum biopsy might be a good next step.

Biopsies, in general, are highly effective diagnostic tools that allow us to examine your cells and tissues more closely to identify any abnormalities.

Here at Baton Rouge Perio, Dr. Kenneth Markle and Dr. Jenny Herman routinely perform gum biopsies to diagnose (or rule out) oral health issues that range from oral cancer to benign lesions.

Here’s a look at when you might benefit from a gum biopsy and the three different ways we perform this simple procedure.

When a biopsy is prudent

The tissues inside your mouth are like any other body tissues in that they can display certain warning flags that warrant further investigation. With a biopsy, we remove some of the tissue and place it under a microscope for a closer look at the cells.

When we recommend a gum biopsy, it’s typically due to:

  • A persistent sore, lesion, or ulcer in your mouth
  • Chronic swelling in your gum tissues
  • White or red spots on your gums
  • Changes in your gums

Any time there’s an issue in the soft tissues in your mouth that we can’t readily explain, the odds are good that we’ll want to take a biopsy.

While many people assume that biopsies are only for diagnosing (or ruling out) cancer, bear in mind that oropharyngeal cancers aren’t all that common — women have a 1 in 141 lifetime risk while men have a 1 in 60 risk. At best, a biopsy can bring you peace of mind and, at worst, it still allows us to intervene early, which is important with cancer.

The different types of biopsies

Depending upon what we’re investigating, we take one of three different biopsy routes, including:

Brush biopsy

This is the least invasive of the biopsies, as we use only a brush to gather cells from the suspicious area in your gums.

Incisional biopsy

Here, we cut away a small piece of the suspect tissue for further examination.

Excisional biopsy

In this procedure, we remove the suspicious tissue in its entirety.

In each case, we perform the biopsy right here in our office, and you’re free to go home afterward. The good news is that recovery isn’t all that bad as the tissues inside your mouth tend to heal more quickly than other tissues. The humid environment and growth factors in saliva work together to help your gums mend themselves in very little time.

If you have more questions about how or why we perform a gum biopsy, please contact our office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to schedule an appointment.