Gum tissue can sometimes grow more than it is supposed to. When this happens, a person might develop a bump or growth-like protrusion on the gums, have their gudems extend further past the normal gum line, or even grow over the crown of a tooth.
You might see this condition referred to as gingival overgrowth, hypertrophy, hypertrophic gingivitis, or gum enlargement, but most commonly it is called gingival hyperplasia. The condition is characterized by an overgrowth of gum tissue around the teeth.
Signs and Symptoms of Gingival Hyperplasia
Apart from the noticeable overgrowth of gum tissue, gingival hyperplasia can cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Bleeding gums
- Red gums
- Tender gums
- Excessive buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Persistent or particularly bad breath
When the gums grow over the teeth or even completely cover a person’s teeth, it can cause issues with bite alignment. It’s also common for the excess gum tissue to become irritated during normal processes like chewing or speaking.
This overgrowth can also make it exceedingly difficult to adequately clean the teeth with brushing and flossing at home. As a result, patients with gingival hyperplasia are at an elevated risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease (periodontal disease) which is a bacterial infection of the gums.
Gingival hyperplasia in children can also cause complications with the normal process of shedding baby teeth and having permanent teeth erupt. The excessive gum tissue can block erupting adult teeth, preventing them from erupting completely and causing complications.
What Causes Gingival Hyperplasia?
Gingival hyperplasia refers to the overgrowth of gums, but it is not a disease in itself. Instead, gingival hyperplasia is actually a symptom of a variety of different health concerns.
Causes of gingival hyperplasia include:
One of the most common causes of gingival hyperplasia is an extreme inflammatory response in the gum tissue to bacteria. Inflammation from plaque and tartar buildup along the gum line can lead to inflammatory gum enlargement.
Excessive gum tissue growth is also a side effect of certain medications including immunosuppressants, anti seizure medications, and calcium channel blockers used to treat high blood pressure.
If you experience gum enlargement while on these medications, do not stop taking your medication or change your dose. You should always speak with your healthcare provider first to determine the proper course of action. Your healthcare provider will likely recommend an alternative medication to reduce your side effects.
A rare genetic condition called hereditary gingival fibromatosis (HBF) is characterized by the excessive production of collagen in the gums. This leads to an overgrowth of gum tissue that can start in early childhood and continue into adulthood.
There are also a variety of physiological conditions that can lead to the overgrowth of gum tissue. These can include hormonal changes like those that occur during pregnancy or menopause. Additional systemic issues and diseases that can lead to gingival hyperplasia include:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Crohn’s disease
If you have any of these underlying conditions, practicing good oral hygiene can help slow or prevent the excessive growth of gum tissue.
Gingival Hyperplasia Diagnosis and Treatment
There are a variety of surgical treatments available to remove excessive gum tissue and thoroughly clean the hard-to-reach areas of the teeth.
These surgical procedures include:
- Laser Excision – A periodontist uses a special laser to remove excessive, inflamed gum tissue.
- Electrosurgery – In this procedure, an electric current is used to remove tissue overgrowth.
- Gingivectomy – During this gum surgery, a periodontist removes diseased gum tissue and trims away excess tissue. The remaining gums are then repaired with stitches.
- Periodontal Flap Surgery – In periodontal flap surgery, a periodontist separates the gums from the teeth, temporarily folding them back. This allows for the removal of inflamed and infected tissues while clearing the way for a thorough teeth cleaning to remove plaque and tartar.
To prevent gingival hyperplasia from persisting and the gums from re-growing in the future, a dentist or medical doctor must first determine the underlying cause of the patient’s condition.
To diagnose the underlying cause of gingival hyperplasia, your dentist or medical doctor will review your full medical history, a list of the medications you take, and perform a thorough oral examination. If your medical history, medications, and oral examination do not make the underlying cause clear, then a tissue biopsy and/or blood tests might be recommended for further analysis.
Once the underlying cause has been determined, our dentist or your doctor can recommend an appropriate course of action. This might include trying a new medication, improving your oral hygiene regimen, or addressing other underlying health issues that might be contributing to the problem.
Schedule a Gum Health Appointment at Goochland Dentistry
If you notice an overgrowth or excessive growth of your gum tissue, then we encourage you to schedule a dental examination right away. Our team of dentists, Dr. Murchie and Dr. Brown can evaluate your gums, talk with you about your symptoms, and provide you with a variety of treatment options and recommendations to resolve the problem.
To learn more or schedule your next dental exam, contact us today.