Health Information

Gum biopsy

Gum biopsy


Biopsy - gingiva (gums)

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

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • How the Test is Performed

    A painkiller is sprayed into the mouth in the area of the abnormal gum tissue. You may also have an injection of numbing medicine. A small piece of gum tissue is removed and checked for problems in the lab.

  • How to Prepare for the Test

    You may be told not to eat for a few hours before the biopsy.

  • How the Test Will Feel

    The painkiller put in your mouth should numb the area during the procedure. You may feel some tugging or pressure. 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 look for the cause of abnormal gum tissue.

  • Normal Results

    This test is only done when gum tissue looks abnormal.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean

    • Amyloid
    • Noncancerous mouth sores (the specific cause can be determined in many cases)
    • Oral cancer (for example, squamous cell carcinoma)
    • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)
  • Risks

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

    Avoid brushing the area where the biopsy was performed for 1 week.

Related Information

  Primary amyloidosi...Oral cancerSquamous cell skin...Mouth sores    


Eusterman VD. History and Physical Examination, Screening and Diagnostic Testing. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. Feb 2011;44(1):1-29.


Review Date: 3/22/2013  

Reviewed By: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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