Gum biopsy

Definition

A gum biopsy is a surgery in which a small piece of gingival (gum) tissue is removed for examination.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - gingiva (gums)

How the Test is Performed

A painkiller is sprayed into the mouth in the area of the abnormal gum tissue. In some cases, a numbing injection may be used. A small piece of the gum tissue that appears abnormal is removed and checked for problems in the laboratory.

How to Prepare for the Test

There is no special preparation, although you may be told not to eat for a few hours before the biopsy.

How the Test Will Feel

The topical anesthetic should numb the area during the procedure, although some tugging or pressure may be felt. If there is bleeding, the blood vessels may be sealed off with an electric current or laser. This is called electrocauterization. After the numbness wears off, the area may be sore for a few days.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to determine the cause of abnormal gum tissue.

Normal Results

This test is only performed when there is an abnormality.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Risks

  • Bleeding from the biopsy site
  • Infection of the gums
  • Soreness

Considerations

Avoid brushing the biopsy area for 1 week.


Review Date: 3/5/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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