Gingiva is a medical term used for gums. Gingival hyperplasia is overgrowth of gums. It is also called gingival hypertrophy or gingival enlargement. Gingiva is soft tissue in mouth which preserves the alignment of teeth. The hyperplasia sometimes is so enormous that it may cover the teeth. The swollen and enlarged gums are firm and non painful but randomly it is associated with bleeding and tenderness.
There are two variants of gingival hyperplasia. The first is non inflammatory hyperplasia where the gums become purple or dark red. They may be hard or soft which may sometimes bleed and become tender especially after trauma. The second is inflammatory hyperplasia where the gums are soft and tender. Slightest touch causes bleeding.
The condition results in bad breath, difficulty while chewing food and also interferes with fluent speech.
What Are The Causes Of Gingival Hyperplasia?
Gingival hyperplasia can be caused by four different conditions.
- Inflammatory Hyperplasia: It is one of the most common causes of over growth of gums. People who neglect oral hygiene often suffer from it.
- Systemic disturbances: The gums become enlarged in certain systemic diseases and conditions such as leukemia, pregnancy, hormonal imbalance during puberty etc. Nutritional deficiency disease such as Scurvy may lead to overgrowth of gum tissue. However, this condition is rare. It is caused by vitamin C deficiency. Once the disease is cured, there is fair chance of gum receding back to normal size.
- Medication induced: Certain medicines are known to trigger gingival hypertrophy, especially when these drugs are taken for long duration. Medications used for epilepsy such as phenytoin or calcium channel blockers used for hypertension are known to cause enlargement of gums. Hyperplasia of gums due to drugs usually does not cause bleeding. They are red or pink in color and firm.
- Familial trait: Gingival hyperplasia can occur due to certain rare genetic disorders such as Fabyr’s syndrome or Cowden’s syndrome. Although the condition is prevalent since childhood, it becomes apparent only when the patient becomes adult.
Treatment Options For Gingival Hyperplasia
Patients suffering from gingival hyperplasia usually consult their oral surgeon for two reasons. There may be pain and bleeding from the overgrown gums, or patient may find difficulty while chewing food. The second most common reason is its unsightly appearance.
The condition is usually easy to diagnose as it is apparent, however a detailed oral check up and medical history helps to detect the under lying cause which may be responsible for this problem.
- The mainstay treatment for gingival hyperplasia depends on treating the underlying cause. If it is drug induced gingival hyperplasia, withdrawal of offending drug or substituting the drug may effectively reduce the overgrowth of gums.
- In severe form of gingival hyperplasia, surgery may be required to trim the overgrowth of gums. This surgery is called gingivectomy. Sometimes it may require more than one surgery over a period of time if the growth occurs again.
- Proper dental and oral care may be required in case if the cause is poor oral hygiene. Regular brushing of teeth, dental flossing, use of mouthwashes and regular check up with dentist to clean the plaque may help to reduce inflammatory changes in gingival.