Tooth Talk: Better safe than sorry

If reccommended, painless procedure can ease your mind

Q: There is an area inside of my mouth that my dentist checks every time I come in for a check up. He told me the last time I was in that he feels it should be biopsied. I don’t notice anything different and I don’t want the inside of my mouth all cut up. He assures me it won’t hurt. I want to do the right thing but I hate needles and don’t want to be healing over the holidays. What should I do?

A: Well, your fear of needles is extremely common and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have any surgical procedure over the holidays. Especially during a time when we aren’t exactly following our diets. I think I may have answer that may help.

From time to time your dentist or hygienist may notice a lump or bump or abnormal looking area in the mouth that may concern them. If there are changes to the color, shape or size your dentist may recommend a biopsy to make sure there are no tissue changes occurring in that area. If your dentist has told it won’t be painful, then he is probably talking about a brush biopsy. He’s right in that it won’t hurt, your mouth won’t be cut up and no shots are necessary.

This procedure involves taking a small sampling of tissue from the area of concern. The sampling is done with a small brush resembling a stiff pipe cleaner. The process is short and without discomfort. Once the sample has been obtained, it’s fixed to a slide and sent to a laboratory for microscopic analysis. After the procedure is complete, you can resume your normal duties.

After a short period of time, the lab will send their findings along with a report to your dentist. If the findings are normal your dentist may continue to watch the area, but for the time being there is no additional treatment necessary. If the lab finds abnormal cells, your dentist may recommend you see an oral surgeon for further evaluation.

I can tell you the brush biopsy procedure is very common and routine in many offices. I would urge you to go ahead as it will surely give you peace of mind that you did the right thing. Then you can go out there and partake of all those goodies.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island; call 389-9400 or visit He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.

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