What Is Gum Overgrowth?

by | Nov 15, 2022

If your gums are growing over your teeth, you may have a condition called gingival hyperplasia or gum overgrowth.[1] There can be many causes of gum overgrowth, but it’s usually caused by poor oral hygiene or the use of some medications.

Learn more about gum overgrowth, its common causes, and treatment options.

What Is Gingival Hyperplasia?

Gingival hyperplasia is an overgrowth of gum tissue around the teeth caused by poor oral hygiene or the use of certain medications. It’s also called gingival overgrowth, gum enlargement, hypertrophy, and hypertrophic gingivitis.

Left untreated, this condition can impact the alignment of your teeth and increase the risk of developing gum disease. In mild cases, gum overgrowth may be resolved by improving oral hygiene habits. Severe cases may need more aggressive treatment, however.

Symptoms of Gingival Hyperplasia

Gum overgrowth usually causes inflammation in the gums, making them red, soft, shiny, and quick to bleed while brushing or flossing. Other symptoms may include:

  • Tender gums
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Bad breath
  • Plaque buildup on the teeth

In severe cases, gum tissue can grow to completely cover the teeth, impacting their alignment and hygiene. When this happens, it becomes difficult to keep teeth clean and may lead to gum disease.

Common Causes of Gingival Hyperplasia

Gum overgrowth is often caused by inflammation, but certain prescribed medications can also cause it.[2] These include:

  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Calcium channel blockers or drugs used to treat high blood pressure and other heart conditions

If medication is the cause of gum overgrowth, it typically resolves once the medication is stopped.

Other causes include:[1]

Inflammatory Gum Enlargement

Gingival hyperplasia can happen because of inflammation caused by plaque buildup on the teeth from food, bacteria, and poor oral hygiene. The inflammation makes the gums tender and red, triggering bleeding. Proper hygiene can improve this condition, but it may need to be addressed by a periodontist.

Systemic Causes

Other causes of gingival hyperplasia include pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, and diseases like leukemia. Other diseases that may cause overgrowth include HIV, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, lymphoma, anemia, and vitamin deficiencies.

Typically, the condition improves once the underlying cause is treated. Proper oral hygiene can improve symptoms and reduce the risk of gingival hyperplasia.

Hereditary Gingival Fibromatosis

Hereditary gingival fibromatosis is a rare oral condition that causes slow, progressive gum enlargement.[3] Usually, this begins in childhood, but it may not become a problem until adulthood. The gum overgrowth is caused by the overproduction of collagen, leading the gums to cover major parts of the tooth surfaces.

How Is Gum Overgrowth Diagnosed?

If you’re concerned about gum overgrowth, you must consult your periodontist and primary physician to determine the underlying cause. Gingival hyperplasia has several underlying causes that can cause similar symptoms, so it needs to be addressed by professionals.

To diagnose gingival hyperplasia, your primary physician or periodontist will:

  • Obtain a full medical history, including medications
  • Perform an oral exam
  • Recommend a biopsy of the affected tissue and blood tests

How Is Gum Overgrowth Treated?

Treatment for gingival hyperplasia may depend on the underlying cause. Improving oral hygiene practices can prevent the development of gum overgrowth or improve its symptoms. If gum overgrowth results from medication or an underlying health condition, it may need to be corrected with surgery.

Sometimes, despite improvements in oral hygiene and professional treatment, gum overgrowth can be recurrent and may need to be surgically removed. The procedures include:

  • Gingivectomy: This procedure removes a portion of the gums around your teeth and repairs the remaining gums.
  • Periodontal flap surgery: This procedure separates the gums from the teeth. The gums are folded back temporarily to allow the periodontist to access and remove inflamed tissues and clean plaque and tartar.
  • Electrosurgery: This procedure uses electric currents to cut or remove overgrown gum tissue.
  • Laser excision: This procedure uses lasers to remove inflamed gum tissue. Once the gums are removed, any plaque and tarter around the roots can be removed.

What’s the Difference Between Gingival Hyperplasia and Hypertrophy?

Gingival hyperplasia is an increase in the number of cells, while gingival hypertrophy is an increase in the size of the cells. Essentially, hyperplasia happens when the size of the gingiva increases, and hypertrophy is an increase in the size of the individual cells themselves.

With this in mind, gingival enlargement accurately describes hyperplasia since the gums themselves become enlarged. This is a common symptom of gingival disease and an inflammatory process.

Get Treatment for Excess Gums at Dental Implants & Periodontal Health

Gingival hyperplasia can be mild or severe, but it may need treatment to resolve and improve the symptoms. If you’re concerned about gum overgrowth or oral health, consult the professionals at Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester. Contact us today to schedule an appointment! 585-685-2005



[1] https://www.aaom.com/index.php

[2] https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)64493-5/fulltext

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4178355/



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