If your gums are growing over your teeth or have a protruding bump, 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). Whereas some people have too little gums to cover their teeth, those with this condition have too much gum tissue.
This condition's presentation 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 your gums' overgrowth 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.
The causes of gingival hyperplasia may be grouped into four categories:
Your gums often inflame 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), causing your gums to be sensitive and prone to bleeding when cleaning between your teeth.
Luckily, the power is in your hands to treat gum disease if it has not yet progressed to a state requiring professional intervention. The treatment is simple: practice proper dental hygiene. For a more comprehensive set of tips, see our list below in the final section.
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.
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 or adulthood. One condition known to be connected to gingival hyperplasia is hereditary gingival fibromatosis.
This condition causes your gums to grow firm, pink growths that may affect your entire gum tissue or a small section of it. If treatment is required, your medical or dental professional may recommend surgical removal or reducing your gum tissue to keep your teeth exposed and your dental health in top shape.
If you have other health problems, chronic conditions, or changes to your hormones, these could be associated with your gingival hyperplasia.
Systemic causes of gingival hyperplasia may include:
- Pregnancy and other hormonal fluctuations
- Other chronic health conditions
If you’re concerned about gingival hyperplasia, it’s a great choice to speak with your medical or dental professional for their expert insight. Because this overgrowth has several underlying causes that produce a similar presentation of 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 problem.
Even if you already know the cause of your gums' 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 order 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 (also 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 alternate 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
- Brush your teeth twice a day gently 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; each has a corresponding treatment that best suits your specific situation. Consulting your dental or medical professional is vital to find the best course forward and best improve your health in the future while preventing other dental or medical problems. You’re now well-read on the causes of gum overgrowth and the appropriate actions to take for treatment.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.