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Recovering from an Oral Cancer Biopsy

Posted on 12/10/2016 by Andrew Zeiger
A woman suffering from pain after an oral cancer biopsy.
An oral cancer biopsy is necessary in order to give a proper diagnosis of oral cancer.

In order to perform the biopsy, tissue needs to be removed from the oral cavity. This is often a surgical procedure, and requires some recovery.


Some bleeding is to be expected. Blood mixed with saliva may continue for a couple of days, especially following eating or brushing. Rinsing your mouth with a salt water solution can help.

Strenuous activity can lead to pain, swelling and bleeding. For this reason, activities should be limited for the first few days, after which you resume light exercise. If you experience severe pain, stop your activity immediately.

Pain and Swelling

Swelling is also fairly common. This can be managed with ice packs on and off for twenty minutes. It should begin to subside around the third day after your procedure.

Pain can be expected after the anesthesia wears off, and usually spikes about four to six hours after. Most times, an over the counter pain reliever can help manage any pain you do feel. Be sure to avoid any medication that contains aspirin, as these can cause bleeding.

For more severe pain, your dentist may prescribe you a stronger medication. This should only be taken as directed.

You may find it difficult, or painful, to eat following the biopsy. For this reason, you may want to stick to soft foods for a while - soups, soft cooked vegetables, mashed potatoes, yogurt, etc. It is important to eat nutrient rich foods and don't skip any meals. Proper nutrition is key to healing.


You should not do any brushing, flossing or rinsing of any kind for the first 24 hours. After that, you can go back to brushing and flossing, but be gentle around the surgical site. Salt water rinses should be used to kill bacteria and help reduce swelling. And if you are a smoker, you should abstain for at least the first two days. Smoking can slow the healing process and may even cause infection.

As long as you follow your dentist's instructions, you should heal without issue. But if you experience severe bleeding or pain that is unmanageable, even with prescription medication, contact our office right away.


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15128 W Bell Rd, Suite 12
Surprise, AZ 85374
(602) 842-4864

Prescott Valley
7136 East Pav Way
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314
(928) 277-0076

172 E Merritt St.
Suite F
Prescott, AZ 86301
(928) 443-1200

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Surprise Smiles, 15128 W Bell Rd, Suite 12, Surprise, AZ 85374-2451 ^ (602) 842-4864 ^ ^ 5/25/2023 ^ Tags: Dentist Surprise AZ ^