What is Gingival Hyperplasia?
Gingival hyperplasia, also referred to as gingival enlargement, is the overgrowth of gum tissue around your teeth. The affected gum tissue often becomes inflamed, which is a symptom of gingivitis (mild gum disease). If this is the case, your gums may be red, soft, shiny, and bleed easily when brushing or flossing.
However, gingival hyperplasia does not always cause inflammation. Non-inflamed gingival hyperplasia typically causes your gums to turn dark red or purple. Additionally, the gum tissue may be firm, fibrous, and bleed easily. Further, this type of gingival enlargement occurs more often in those with poor oral hygiene.
Causes of Gingival Enlargement
Plaque, calculus, and harmful bacteria in the mouth can provoke almost every oral condition. Gingival hyperplasia, in particular, is often a symptom of long-term poor oral hygiene. However, the condition can also be caused by other factors, including:
Drug-Induced Gingival Overgrowth
Gingival hyperplasia is a common side effect of taking certain medications. For example, drugs that are linked to this condition include:
- Cyclosporine — cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant that prevents organ rejection after a heart, kidney, or liver transplant. In addition, this drug can also treat dry eyes, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
- Phenytoin — phenytoin controls seizures. It also reduces the production of collagen in your body, which can lead to gingival overgrowth.
- Nifedipine — nifedipine is a group of calcium channel blockers that relax your heart muscles and blood vessels. In particular, these drugs commonly treat angina (chest pain), hypertension, and high blood pressure.
Hormonal changes that occur during puberty and pregnancy can cause gingival hyperplasia. This is because a sudden boost in hormones can increase inflammation in the body. As a result, you are at a higher risk of developing gingivitis and other gum related issues. In short, gingivitis is characterized as the inflammation of the gums. It is a minor, reversible form of gum disease that can lead to periodontitis (severe gum disease) if left untreated. Although, practicing good oral hygiene reduces the chance of developing serious oral conditions during these stages of life.
Rare types of gingival overgrowth that form during childhood may be due to genetic factors. For example, hereditary gingival fibromatosis results in an overproduction of collagen. As a result, the gums become enlarged and slowly begin to grow over your tooth surfaces.
Gingival hyperplasia is associated with leukemia, which is a type of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow and lymphatic system. In particular, acute monocytic leukemia, acute myelomonocytic leukemia, and acute myelocytic leukemia are the most common.
Other Health Conditions
Hormonal imbalances, genetics, blood cancers, poor oral hygiene, and certain medications can all lead to gingival hyperplasia. However, gingival overgrowth can also be attributed to other health conditions, including:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Cowden’s Syndrome
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Vitamin Deficiencies
Common Treatment Options for Gingival Hyperplasia
There are a few different treatment options available for gingival overgrowth. These options include, but are not limited to, periodontal flap surgery, a gingivectomy, and laser treatment. Depending on the cause, your dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
Periodontal flap surgery repairs damage caused by periodontal disease (advanced gum disease). Although, it can also treat most cases of gingival hyperplasia. During the surgery, your periodontist administers local anesthesia to numb the treated area. Then they make a small incision into the gums, which separates the gum tissue from your teeth. Lastly, the dentist gently folds back your gums, carefully removes the inflamed tissue, and flushes out any remaining debris.
A gingivectomy is a straightforward procedure that involves the removal of excess gum tissue. During the surgery, your oral surgeon cuts the overgrown gum tissue out of your mouth. Then they reshape the loose, damaged tissue and remove the “pockets” between your teeth and gums.
Other common treatment options include electrosurgery and laser excision. Both of these procedures involve the removal of inflamed gum tissue. In addition, if you have gingival enlargement and gingivitis, your dentist may recommend:
- A deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), which removes any bacteria, plaque, and calculus below the gum line.
- An ultrasonic treatment (to help reduce inflammation).
- A prescription mouthwash, such as chlorhexidine (antiseptic properties).
- Antibiotics, such as azithromycin or erythromycin, to help kill bacteria.