Enlargement and swelling of the gums due to various causes
- Poor oral hygiene is a risk factor
- Age, gender, and genetics are not significant factors
The gums most commonly enlarge and swell, a condition known as gingival hyperplasia, as a result of the gum disease gingivitis. This condition is usually the result of poor oral hygiene, which allows plaque (a deposit of food particles, saliva, and bacteria) and calculus (hardened plaque) to build up where the gums meet the teeth. The gums become inflamed and bleed easily, especially when the teeth are brushed.
Gingival hyperplasia can also be a side effect of certain drugs, such as antihypertensives, anticonvulsants, and some immunosuppressants. The condition may occur during pregnancy due to certain hormonal changes. Less common causes include acute leukaemia and scurvy, in which there is a deficiency of vitamin C.
To treat gingival hyperplasia, your dentist will probably scale your teeth to remove the plaque and advise you to brush and floss regularly (see Caring for your teeth and gums). In some cases, excess gum tissue may be removed. If gingival hyperplasia is due to drugs, alternatives will be given. An underlying disorder, such as acute leukaemia, will be treated if possible, and the condition of your gums should then improve. Gingival hyperplasia due to pregnancy should clear up after the birth as hormone levels return to normal.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.