Find my Delta Dental company

The national network of Delta Dental companies protects more smiles than any other insurance company. Have a question about coverage or looking for dental insurance? Connect with your Delta Dental company to learn more.


*Not sure where your company is headquartered? Contact your company's human resources department.

Looking for a dentist?

Delta Dental has the largest network of dentists nationwide. Find the one that’s right for you.

Find a dentist

Search by current location

Please input information for either ZIP code or address but not both

Cost matters

How much is it going to cost? Want to know before you set foot in the dentist’s office? Get started here. Our Dental Care Cost Estimator tool provides estimated cost ranges for common dental care needs.

Calculate cost
This zip code doesn't exist Please select a treatment type
The Dental Care Cost Estimator provides an estimate and does not guarantee the exact fees for dental procedures, what services your dental benefits plan will cover or your out-of-pocket costs. Estimates should not be construed as financial or medical advice. For more detailed information on your actual dental care costs, please consult your dentist or your Delta Dental.
Please sign in below
Create an account

Here are the benefits of creating an account

  • View plan information
  • Download forms
  • View claims
  • Track dental activity
  • Check patient eligibility
  • Download claim forms
  • Check national ERA
  • See dental offical deals

Oral cancer diagnosis and biopsies

How Biopsies Diagnose Oral Cancer

A biopsy is a small sample of tissue that your doctor takes from a suspicious area. A specialized doctor, called a pathologist, examines this sample under a microscope to check for cancer. Samples may be taken from your mouth and from lymph nodes in your neck. The biopsy may be done in the doctor’s office or at the hospital.

These are three ways to take a biopsy to check for oral cancer.

Exfoliative Cytology

Your doctor may scrape some cells from the suspicious lesion and put them on a slide. This can be done in a doctor’s office. The sample is then stained with a dye so the cells can be seen under the microscope. If any of the cells look abnormal, the area can be biopsied. The advantage of this technique is that it is easy, and even minimally abnormal-looking areas can be examined. This can make for an earlier diagnosis and a greater chance of cure if there is cancer. But this method does not detect all cancers. Sometimes it’s not possible to tell the difference between cancerous cells and abnormal, but noncancerous, cells with this approach, so a biopsy would still be needed.

Incisional Biopsy

Your doctor may cut out a small sample of tissue. If the suspicious area is easy to reach, your doctor can numb your mouth and do this in his office. If the area is deeper in the mouth or throat, this is done in the operating room. The surgeon uses special instruments through an endoscope to remove small tissue samples.

Fine-Needle Aspiration

Your doctor may have noticed a lump in your neck. If so, he or she uses a thin needle to remove a small sample of tissue. This can be done in a doctor’s office.

Once the biopsy is completed, the pathologist examines the tissue samples in a lab. He or she looks at the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. It usually takes several days for the results of your biopsy to come back. A biopsy is the only sure way to tell if you have cancer and what kind of cancer it is.



“How Are Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers Diagnosed?” American Cancer Society. February 26, 2013. Accessed 2013.

Back to Articles