The mouth, or oral cavity, is lined by mucosa that is smooth and pink in color. Any change in the lining or mucosa such as a growth, ulceration or development of a white or red patch may be a sign to an underlying disease process. Many times these lesions are treated with medications in the same way we would treat an affected region of our skin. A growth or abnormality of the oral cavity that does not respond to medication or resolve in ten to fourteen days should be further evaluated.
A biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a section or the entire growth is removed depending on the size, location and nature of the growth. Growths in the oral cavity are typically benign in nature. A malignant lesion, or oral cancer is rare in the general population; however, due to the innocuous appearance of some oral cancer all suspicious lesions should be biopsied.
Most biopsies are performed in the office using only a local anesthetic. For those patients who prefer, a light sedation or general anesthesia can be administered. In many cases a laser can be used to simplify the surgical procedure and eliminate the need for sutures. Following removal of the lesion the specimen or biopsy is sent to an oral pathologist for a final diagnosis. The diagnosis would dictate the need for possible further treatment.