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Understanding the Different Types of Biopsies

Understanding the Different Types of Biopsies

A biopsy is a standard procedure used by all types of healthcare providers. Their purpose is to take a sample of suspicious tissue for closer study. 

While you may not associate biopsies with a dental visit, cancer and other issues can occur in the mouth. In fact, they can affect any area in the oral cavity, including the:

That makes biopsies a valuable method for diagnosing potential issues — and even treating them — as early as possible.

Caesar Sweidan, DDS, and Laura Smith, DDS, of Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants in Gulfport, Mississippi, use biopsies to analyze oral health problems. In this blog, they explain some of the situations that could warrant a biopsy, and they also discuss some of the types of biopsies.

Situations that can warrant a biopsy

Dentists perform cancer screenings during routine dental visits. However, you should also watch for suspicious or abnormal changes on your own that can indicate a problem, such as:

After assessing the suspicious area, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith might recommend a biopsy for more information.

Types of oral biopsies

Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith can use a variety of biopsy methods depending on the location and type of abnormality.

Brush or exfoliative cytology biopsy

As you might suspect, this biopsy involves gently scraping the abnormal area with a round brush. Then, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith put the collected sample on a glass slide for closer study.

This biopsy causes little discomfort and is fairly easy to perform, making it a great starting point. However, it doesn’t detect all forms of cancer, so you might need additional biopsies later.

Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy

During a fine needle biopsy, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith extract cells from your mouth using a thin needle. Then, like a brush biopsy, they transfer the sample to a slider for testing.

FNA biopsies often get used for suspicious growths, typically in the neck.

Incisional biopsy

An incisional biopsy involves removing a small amount of suspicious tissue from your mouth along with some healthy tissue. This type of biopsy enables Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith to compare the samples when looking for potential issues.

Excisional biopsy

Finally, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith could suggest an excisional biopsy to diagnose and treat an oral health problem. This biopsy involves removing all of the suspicious tissue for testing.


No matter which biopsy you need, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith keep you comfortable the entire time. Brush biopsies usually don’t require any anesthetic, but others may require topical, local, or general anesthetics.

After performing your biopsy and evaluating your sample, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith can guide you through the next course of action, if needed.

Do you have a suspicious area in your mouth? Dr. Sweidan or Dr. Smith can perform a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps. To learn more, call 228-868-9615 or request an appointment online with Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants today.

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