If your gums are growing over your teeth or appear to be bumpy and protuding, you may have a condition known as gingival hyperplasia. It can be a challenge to figure out the root cause of this problem and what to do about it on your own. Luckily, we're here to help you understand this issue, what its causes are, and what your best course of action is.
Gingival Hyperplasia: What Is It and How Is It Treated?
Gingival hyperplasia is a condition that refers to an overgrowth of your gums (also known as your gingiva or gingival tissue). Whereas some people have too little gum tissue to cover their teeth, those with this condition have too much gum tissue.
This condition can vary in severity, from one small bump to a growth of the gums, which almost completely covers your tooth or teeth. Rest assured that this condition is not contagious.
Because gingival hyperplasia refers to the overgrowth of your gums, rather than a specific condition, it has several potential underlying causes. Understanding the cause of your gingival hyperplasia is essential to its treatment and prevention. Keep reading below, and we’ll discuss each in detail.
There are four main causes of gingival hyperplasia.
Your gums often become inflamed and swollen as a response to plaque accumulating in your mouth from improper dental care. This leads to a condition known as gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), in which your gums become sensitive and prone to bleeding when cleaning your teeth.
Luckily, if gum disease hasn't progressed too far, the power is in your hands to treat it. The treatment is simple: practice proper dental hygiene. For a more comprehensive set of tips, see our list below in the final section.
Drug-Induced Side Effects
Some medications have been found to cause gingival hyperplasia as a side effect. Drugs that may be associated with gingival hyperplasia include:
- Phenytoin (medication to prevent seizures)
- Cyclosporine (medication to reduce the activity of your immune system)
- Calcium channel blockers (medications used to manage cardiovascular conditions)
You mustn’t modify the dosage of these medications or stop taking them on your own; always speak to your physician about your concerns and ask their advice.
Genes inherited from your parents may cause a hereditary disorder. These disorders are sometimes evident in childhood but may not be diagnosed until later in life. One condition known to be connected to gingival hyperplasia is hereditary gingival fibromatosis, a condition that causes your gums to develop firm, pink growths.
They may affect your entire gum tissue or just a small section of it. In some cases, your medical or dental professional may recommend surgical removal or reduction of your gum tissue to keep your teeth exposed and your dental health in top shape.
Other aspects of your health could be associated with your gingival hyperplasia.
Systemic causes of gingival hyperplasia may include:
- Pregnancy and other hormonal fluctuations
- Illnesses like leukaemia
- Certain chronic health conditions
If you’re concerned about gingival hyperplasia, it’s a great idea to speak with your medical or dental professional for their expert insight. Because this overgrowth has several underlying causes that produce similar symptoms, it isn’t easy to properly diagnose yourself.
It’s best to leave diagnosis and treatment up to the pros in most cases, and gingival hyperplasia is no exception. Because some of the causes are potentially concerning health conditions in their own right, you can set yourself up for success by identifying any underlying problems.
Even if you already know the cause of your gum overgrowth, its presence could highlight the fact that your treatment regimen needs modification or updating. This can help avoid side effects or adverse outcomes, ensuring that you’re as comfortable and healthy as possible.
To diagnose your gingival hyperplasia, your medical or dental professional may:
- Collect your full medical history and ask what medications you currently take.
- Perform an oral exam.
- Recommend biopsy of the affected tissue or other tests like a blood panel.
The proper treatment for the overgrowth of your gums will vary depending on its severity and the underlying cause. If the gum tissue impedes proper chewing or cleaning or is otherwise concerning, your dental or medical professional may recommend removing your gum tissue (a procedure known as gingivectomy). They may also recommend a professional cleaning to remove plaque that has hardened into tartar and can’t be removed on your own.
If your medication is causing your hyperplasia, it's never a good idea to stop a prescribed medication or change its dosage on your own. Speak with your medical professional about your concerns. In some cases, an alternative medication may be prescribed.
Regardless of the underlying cause of your gingival hyperplasia, it’s crucial to practice proper dental hygiene to avoid developing other dental problems. Your gums may cause food matter to become lodged or make it difficult for you to properly clean your teeth, leading to increased plaque levels.
To properly care for your gums, be sure to:
- Clean between your teeth carefully once a day, using floss, a flossing device, or an interdental brush.
- Gently brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Rinse using mouthwash or an antiseptic mouthrinse.
- Consume a balanced, healthy diet that’s low in sugary or acidic items.
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products.
- Visit your dental professional at least every six months to prevent associated dental problems.
Gingival hyperplasia has a range of underlying causes, which will influence the treatment you need. Consulting your dental or medical professional is vital to find the best course of action for your specific situation, improve your current health, and prevent future dental or medical problems. Make an appointment now to discuss any concerns about gum overgrowth or oral health.