4 Things Denture Wearers Need To Know About Gingival Hyperplasia
Gingival hyperplasia is a condition characterized by the overgrowth of the gum tissue. It can be caused by many different things, including medications and systemic diseases. Surprisingly, it can also be caused by your removable dentures. Here are four things denture wearers need to know about gingival hyperplasia.
How dentures cause gingival hyperplasia?
Well-fitting dentures don't lead to gingival hyperplasia, but ill-fitting dentures that apply friction or pressure to the gum tissue can cause this condition. The chronic, minor trauma associated with ill-fitting dentures stimulates the growth of your gum tissue. This excess tissue is similar to the calluses you would develop on your feet if you wore ill-fitting shoes.
Other factors can also contribute to the development of this condition. For example, wearing your dentures overnight, instead of taking them out and allowing your gums to heal, can further aggravate your gum tissue. Poor oral hygiene, such as not cleaning your dentures often enough or well enough, can also contribute to the condition.
What are the signs of this condition?
The extent of the condition can vary significantly between sufferers. Gingival hyperplasia can cause overgrown lesions that are only a few millimeters long, or massive lesions that encompass all of the gum tissue, depending on where pressure and friction are being applied to your gums.
Gingival hyperplasia develops slowly, so many people continue wearing their ill-fitting dentures until their gums have grown to a sufficient size to make denture use difficult or impossible. However, it's possible to notice the condition at an earlier stage. After you take your dentures out, examine your gum tissue in the mirror: if you see a fissured ridge with puffy gum tissue on both sides, your gums are growing.
The enlarged gum tissue may also become ulcerated due to friction and pressure from the dentures. If this happens, you'll feel discomfort and pain.
How can you prevent gingival hyperplasia?
To prevent gingival hyperplasia, you need to ensure that your dentures fit well and are comfortable. When you get new dentures, it's normal to need numerous adjustments before they're comfortable. If any areas of your new dentures rub against your gums or pinch your tissues, tell your dentist as adjustments are needed. Don't assume that the discomfort will go away in a few weeks as you get used to your dentures; dentures aren't something that needs to be "broken in."
Even if your dentures fit perfectly when you first get them, they don't stay that way forever. When you're missing your teeth, your jawbone shrinks over time, and this means that your dentures will get looser over time. If you notice that your dentures are getting loose, your dentist can reline them. A new lining will be created for your existing dentures based on an impression of your mouth.
How is it treated?
If you develop gingival hyperplasia, the causes of the condition will need to be addressed. If your dentures fit poorly, your dentist will need to adjust them. If your dentist thinks that poor oral hygiene played a role as well, you'll be reminded about the importance of brushing twice a day. It's easy to ignore tooth brushing when you have dentures, since dentures can't get cavities, but dirty dentures are an issue because they cause further irritation to your gums. If you've been wearing your dentures overnight, you'll need to stop that habit to let your gum tissue get a break from the pressure and friction.
If your gingival hyperplasia is caught early enough, these modifications will likely be all you need, according to NIH. If your condition is longstanding, the tissue won't go back to it's normal size by itself. To treat longstanding gingival hyperplasia, surgery will be required. Your dentist will trim your gum tissue with a scalpel to return it to its normal size.
If you wear dentures and are concerned that your gums are getting larger, see your dentist right away. You can also look into cosmetic dentistry, such as implants, as an alternative to dentures.