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Author: Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2005.
Gingival enlargement refers to excessive growth of the gums, and may also be known as gingival hyperplasia or hypertrophy.
In many cases the cause is unknown. The affected tissue may be inflamed (gingivitis), in which case the gums are red, soft, shiny and bleed easily. Gingivitis may be localised or generalised.
Specific causes of gingivitis include:
Non-inflamed gingival enlargement tends to be a darker red or purple. It may be soft, which bleeds easily, or firm and fibrous. It is also more likely to occur in those with poor dental hygiene. Causes include:
Gingival enlargement may cause discomfort, interfere with speech or chewing, result in halitosis (bad odour to the breath) and it may look unsightly.
The treatment depends on the underlying cause. Gingivitis may improve with the following measures:
Drugs that are known to cause gingival enlargement should be discontinued. Gingivectomy (surgical removal of the overgrown gum tissue) may be necessary for severe cases and may be repeated if necessary.
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