What Is a Gum Biopsy?A gum biopsy is a medical procedure in which your dentist removes a sample of tissue from your gums and sends it to a laboratory for analysis. A gum biopsy is also called a gingival biopsy because gingiva is another word for gums. The gingival tissue is the tissue that immediately surrounds and supports your teeth.
Dentists use a gum biopsy to diagnose causes of abnormal gum tissue. These include oral cancer and noncancerous mouth sores.
Types of Gum BiopsiesThere are several different types of gum biopsies.
An incisional gum biopsy is the most common method of gum biopsy. Your doctor will remove a piece of suspicious tissue and a piece of nearby healthy tissue.
A pathologist will then compare the two samples.
The pathologist can determine if a cancerous area is forming from the cells on the suspicious gum tissue, if the cancer cells come from another deeper growth, or if they have spread to the gum from somewhere else in your body.
During an excisional gum biopsy, your doctor may remove the entire growth. How much they remove depends on the growth’s size and location.
This type of biopsy is normally used to take out a small lesion that is easy to reach. Your doctor will remove it, along with some of the nearby healthy tissue. This provides a sample for diagnosis. It also helps prevent the lesion from spreading or growing.
Percutaneous biopsies are procedures where a doctor inserts a biopsy needle through your skin. There are two different types: fine need biopsy and core needle biopsy.
A fine needle biopsy works well if the lesion is large. In this procedure, a small needle connected to a syringe removes cells from the lesion. Your doctor may collect cells from different points on one lesion at the same time.
A core needle biopsy, or punch biopsy, uses a small circular blade to cut out a tissue sample. The blade is pushed down on your gum and your doctor pulls on the center of the area to withdraw a circular sample. The sample is freed from the tissue with small scissors or a scalpel. Your doctor may decide to use a punch biopsy depending on the location of the abnormal tissue and how easy it is to reach.
A brush biopsy is a noninvasive procedure. Your doctor gathers tissue by forcefully rubbing a brush against the abnormal area of your gum.
A brush biopsy is often your doctor’s first step if your symptoms don’t call for an immediate, more invasive biopsy. It is used for an initial evaluation, or testing. The procedure is able to collect cancerous cells, since the links that bind these cells to each other and to the nearby normal cells are normally weak.
If the test results show any suspicious growth or cancer, your doctor will likely do an incisional or percutaneous biopsy to confirm a diagnosis.
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