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). Your gums may be red, soft, shiny, and bleed easily when brushing or flossing.
Severe gingival overgrowth can completely cover teeth crowns, leading to periodontal disease (advanced gum disease).
Other names for gingival hyperplasia include:
Gingival hyperplasia is often a painful condition that can cause red and/or bleeding gums. Other symptoms of gingival enlargement include bad breath, plaque buildup on teeth, and tender/inflamed gums.
This condition also negatively impacts your oral health standing. If left untreated, your gums can begin to fully cover your teeth, causing poor oral hygiene. This makes your teeth difficult to clean, potentially leading to gum disease and cavities.
In addition, gum tissue overgrowth can make your teeth move out of place. Orthodontic treatment may be necessary if this occurs.
Gingival hyperplasia does not always cause inflammation. Non-inflamed gingival hyperplasia typically causes your gums to turn dark red or purple. The gingival tissues may be firm, fibrous, and bleed easily. This type of gingival enlargement occurs more often in those with poor oral hygiene.
Gingival hyperplasia refers to the increase in the number of cells, while gingival hypertrophy refers to the increase in cell size. In other words, hyperplasia occurs when the size of the gingiva increases. Hypertrophy just means an increase in the overall size of the individual cells.
The term gingival enlargement is a more accurate description of the condition. It can be caused by three main issues: inflammation, medication, or systemic disease.
Plaque, calculus, and harmful bacteria in the mouth can cause almost every oral condition. Long-term bad oral hygiene and poor plaque control are common risk factors of gingival hyperplasia.
Gingival enlargement can also be caused by other factors, including:
Drug-induced gingival overgrowth is linked to the patient's genetic makeup, the presence of dental plaque, and whether they had gingival inflammation prior to taking medications. Gingival hyperplasia is a side effect of certain drugs, including:
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.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. It is a minor, reversible form of gum disease that can lead to periodontitis (if left untreated). Good oral hygiene reduces the chance of developing oral conditions during puberty and pregnancy.
Rare types of gingival overgrowth that form during childhood can be caused by 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 teeth.
Gingival hyperplasia can be a sign of acute leukemia, a group of blood cancers that affect the bone marrow and lymphatic system, if other symptoms of leukemia are present.
Gingival overgrowth can also be caused by other health conditions, including:
Gingival hyperplasia can lead to periodontal disease (if left untreated). Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis or gum disease, is an inflammatory disease that affects the gums, bones, and surrounding tissues. It is caused by plaque buildup below the gum line.
The early stages of gum disease are difficult to notice at first because people do not feel any pain. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms will become more obvious.
The most common signs of periodontitis include:
There are a few different treatment options available for gingival overgrowth. These include, but are not limited to, periodontal flap surgery, a gingivectomy, and laser gum treatment.
Depending on the severity of gingival enlargement, your dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
Periodontal flap surgery repairs damage caused by periodontal disease (advanced gum disease). It can also treat most cases of gingival hyperplasia.
In general, the surgical removal of excess gum tissue consists of the following steps:
A gingivectomy is a straightforward procedure that involves the removal of excess gum tissue. During the surgery, an oral surgeon cuts the overgrown gum tissue out of the 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. If you have gingival enlargement and gingivitis, your dentist may recommend:
Here are some frequently asked questions about gingival enlargement:
After you stop taking the medication(s) that caused gingival hyperplasia or start treatment for the condition, it takes one to eight weeks for the lesions to disappear.
Depending on the severity of gingival hyperplasia, you will likely need professional dental treatment to fix the condition.
However, if the condition is mild, you can prevent it from getting worse by practicing optimal oral care at home. Tips include brushing your teeth twice a day with an extra-soft bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. You should also replace your toothbrush tip every three months, floss daily, rinse with a natural mouthwash, and visit your dentist for teeth cleanings twice a year.
Common drugs that cause gum hyperplasia include cyclosporine, anticonvulsants, and calcium channel blockers.
Professional treatment is the only way to get rid of gingival hyperplasia. However, you can help prevent the condition from getting worse by practicing excellent oral hygiene at home.
After treatment, make sure you brush and floss your teeth regularly and visit your dentist for routine teeth cleanings (at least twice a year).
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