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What Conditions in Your Mouth Might Benefit From a Biopsy

Jul 01, 2023
What Conditions in Your Mouth Might Benefit From a Biopsy
When there are unexplained changes in the soft tissues in your mouth, such as an open sore on the inside of your cheek or white spots on your gums, taking a closer look through a biopsy is a good idea.

The tissues of your mouth are no strangers to minor injuries — you bite your cheek, burn your tongue, or something hits your lip, causing it to swell. If, however, there’s damage in these tissues with no explanation, it’s time to investigate further.

Oral cancers, which are diagnosed in more than 54,000 people in the United States each year, are our primary concern when you develop sores, lesions, and other changes in your mouth with no obvious explanation. To stay one step ahead of these serious diseases, the team here at Baton Rouge Perio, led by Dr. Jenny Herman and Dr. Kenneth Markle, offers biopsy testing, which is the best way to investigate changes in your mouth.

Here, we take a closer look at some of the conditions in your mouth that might warrant a closer look with a biopsy.

A few words about oral cancers

When we discuss oral cancers, we’re referring to cancers than can affect your:

  • Tongue
  • Tonsils
  • Oropharynx — the part of your throat at the back of your mouth
  • Gums
  • Tissues around the inside of your mouth
  • Lips
  • Salivary glands

The average age of diagnosis for oral cancers is 64, but about 20% of cases are found in people under the age of 55. Also worth noting is that oral cancers affect twice as many men as women.

When we should perform a biopsy

Oral cancers can be tricky to spot for a couple of reasons. First, the areas inside and around your mouth are busy, and minor damage or changes from time to time is perfectly normal. For instance, you may bite your tongue or smack your lip. The difference is that injuries should clear up quickly, whereas oral cancers do not.

Second, oral cancers can present themselves in a variety of ways, which is why we want to review those conditions here, starting with:

Open sores

If you have an open sore in any of the tissues we list above, and it doesn’t heal readily, it’s time for a biopsy.

Rough patches or crusty areas

If you develop rough patches or crusty spots around your lips, on your gums, or anywhere else inside your mouth, it’s time for us to investigate further with a biopsy. Aside from an uneven texture, these patches can also be a different color, such as white or red.

Swelling in your gums

If you have swelling in your gums that you don’t believe is related to gingivitis, you should have us check it out.

Numbness, pain, or tenderness

If you experience any pain, tenderness, or numbness around your mouth, face, or neck, please come see us so we can take a look.

Other potential signs of oral cancers include bad breath, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, or a growth or lump inside your mouth.

Undergoing a biopsy

If you have suspicious changes or conditions in, or around, your mouth that we want to investigate, we assure you that a biopsy is both quick and easy. All we do is simply remove some tissue so it can be studied under a microscope. 

We use a local anesthetic before we remove the small piece of tissue, and you shouldn’t experience anything more than minor bleeding and some soreness afterward.

If you suspect you might benefit from a biopsy, please contact our office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to schedule an appointment today.