Oral Pathology & Biopsies

The inside of the mouth is usually lined with a particular type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral-pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer.

The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
  • A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness. Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.

These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology and, curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and oral pain without an apparent cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer.

We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly, and remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please get in touch with us so we may help.

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The Importance of Oral Biopsy

An oral biopsy is pivotal in accurately diagnosing oral pathologies from benign growths to malignant tumors. Early detection through biopsy assists in timely intervention, leading to early prognosis and improved treatment outcomes. An oral biopsy also aids in determining the extent and nature of a lesion, which is crucial for planning surgical procedures or other interventions.

What Types of Oral Pathology Can a Biopsy Detect?

An oral biopsy can rule out or confirm the existence of several types of oral pathology. A small piece of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope during a biopsy. The pathologist examines the tissue for infections, abnormal cells, and other issues. An oral biopsy can diagnose:

  • Oral cancer
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Precancerous lesions
  • Oral infections

Biopsy results provide essential information to your healthcare team for effective oral health management.

Types of Oral Biopsy

Laser Oral Biopsy

Laser oral biopsies are quickly gaining popularity for oral pathology procedures, offering precise control and minimal invasiveness. Laser biopsies can target particular areas and reach difficult locations in the mouth. Laser surgery cauterizes the blood vessels, reducing bleeding, pain, and scarring.

Scalpel Biopsy

A more traditional scalpel biopsy is the most universal approach to diagnosing oral pathologies, offering some advantages over laser biopsy. Larger tissue samples can be obtained when needed with a scalpel biopsy. There is also greater versatility with a scalpel biopsy; our surgeons can remove a small area on the surface, remove a cylindrical tissue core, or, in some instances, excise the entire lesion.

What Happens if a Biopsy Indicates a Serious Problem?

If an oral biopsy indicates a severe problem such as oral cancer or another malignancy, further diagnostic procedures and treatment are needed. Our surgeons will work with a healthcare team, including oncologists, your doctor or dentist, and other specialists, to create a treatment plan. This might include surgery to remove the affected area, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches. Additionally, regular follow-ups and monitoring are essential to track your progress.

Never ignore any lumps, sores, or thickened tissue in your mouth. Contact our office at Visalia Office Phone Number (559) 732-7946 to arrange for an examination. We will determine whether a biopsy is needed and agree to perform it at one of our four convenient locations. Early intervention is crucial for successful treatment and recovery.