Gingival enlargement, which also goes by different names including hypertrophy and hyperplasia, is an abnormal increase in the size of the gums. The condition can lead to different oral complications such as bleeding gums, gum disease and oral thrush. You may develop gingival enlargement if:

You Inherit It

Some people have genes that cause their gums to swell and grow over their teeth even if they don't have other oral conditions. In most cases, the abnormal growths start to exhibit themselves in childhood, but there are also cases where the abnormality only becomes apparent in adulthood. If you have the condition, then your child has a 50% chance of developing it too.

Hereditary gingival fibromatosis is slow acting; the growths take a long time to go over the teeth. They are usually pale or pink and non-tender. Treatment options include surgery and vaporization by laser, though you may have to undergo several operations because the growths tend to reoccur.

Take Medications That Induce It

There are also medicines that induce abnormal growth of gums. Medication-induced hyperplasia is usually firm, pale and non-tender – just like the inherited version of the oral condition. Examples of drugs that may induce the condition include anticonvulsants, immunosuppressants and calcium channel blockers.

Drug-induced gingival overgrowth is worsened by poor oral hygiene and the presence of dental plaque. Therefore, if you are taking these drugs, you need to be extra keen with your oral hygiene regime. In some cases, the overgrowths disappear when you stop taking the drugs, but you may also need surgery if they don't disappear on their own.

You Develop Dental Plaque

Lastly, your gums may also overgrow if you have dental plaque. Plaque, which is a consequence of poor oral hygiene, accumulates on the teeth and elicits an inflammatory response from the affected gums. Unlike drug-induced and inherited hypertrophy, inflammatory gum overgrowth may be tender, painful and prone to bleeding.

The good news is that most patients with the condition do not require surgical removal of the inflamed gum tissues. In many cases, professional dental cleaning and heightened oral hygiene is enough to get rid of the overgrowth.

Therefore, if your gums have overgrown over your teeth, you should not assume anything -- for example, that it is due to gum disease or poor oral hygiene. That may lead you to try home treatments, which may fail if your hyperplasia is caused by something else (such as drugs). Consult experts like the Penticton Dental Centre for a professional diagnosis and treatment.