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Oral Diagnosis & Biopsies

When you visit Fryeburg Dental Center for an exam, Dr. Harper and Dr. Pickerell don’t just evaluate your teeth and gums, they also examine your entire oral and facial anatomy. This is why a dental exam can be key for detecting certain oral or systemic diseases. Our Fryeburg dentists have the tools and expertise to uncover and diagnose a wide range of irregularities. When necessary, they can also perform biopsies. Early detection is crucial when it comes to diseases like oral cancer. Schedule your exam with us today by requesting an appointment online or calling us at (207) 935-3133.

What is an Oral Diagnosis and Biopsy?

At your dental exam, Dr. Harper or Dr. Pickerell will examine your face, mouth and neck. They’ll also ask you about any changes you’ve noticed or symptoms you’ve been experiencing. If they spot a concern, they may perform additional tests or diagnostic imaging to help develop an accurate diagnosis.

Sometimes, an abnormality like a lesion will be discovered that needs to be further evaluated. Lesions can take the form of white or red spots or lumps. Thankfully, they’re usually benign but it’s always best to be cautious, so we may recommend a biopsy. During a biopsy, Dr. Harper or Dr. Pickerell will carefully remove part of the suspicious area. They’ll send the tissue sample to a pathologist who will examine it under a microscope.

What are the oral diseases we’re looking for? Dr. Harper or Dr. Pickerell may screen for a number of conditions, including:

  • Oral Cancer – We look for signs of oral cancer during exams since it can be life threatening and early detection is a proven way to greatly increase the survival rate. Keep in mind that the large majority of lesions or unusual growths are benign.
  • Fibroma – This benign, tumor-like mass can feel like a lump in the mouth’s lining.
  • Leukoplakia – This condition causes white patches inside of the mouth. It’s usually benign but sometimes the lesions can be precancerous, so we often perform a biopsy.
  • Lichen Planus – Lichen planus is an inflammatory disease that can cause discomfort for some people.
  • Mucous Membrane Pemphigoid – While not life threatening, this autoimmune disease can cause oral lesions.
  • Pregnancy Tumors – Hormonal changes in pregnant women can cause benign red swellings to crop up on the gum tissue.

Benefits of Oral Diagnosis & Biopsies


Early Detection

Early detection of diseases like oral cancer can greatly improve the odds of survival.


Peace of Mind

In cases where a lesion is benign, knowing it’s not life-threatening provides peace of mind.


Personalized Treatment

If we do detect an issue or abnormality, we can offer tailored treatment options.

What to Expect

Usually, a biopsy is a simple, in-office procedure. However, there are times when it’s done in a hospital setting. A biopsy typically only requires local anesthesia. Dr. Harper or Dr. Pickerell will remove a portion of the suspicious area. If they have to make an incision, they’ll close it with dissolving stitches that don’t need to be removed.

Oral tissues are rich in blood vessels, so it’s normal to experience some bleeding after the biopsy. We’ll give you follow-up instructions that include what to eat and drink, how to manage swelling or discomfort, and when to take medication, if needed. Practicing good oral hygiene will also help with healing. We’ll call you with your results as soon as the pathology report is completed, which usually only takes a few days.

Discover a New Dental Experience

Our Fryeburg dentists offer expert, comfortable care for patients of all ages in a beautiful office.