What Is Drug-Induced Gingival Hyperplasia?

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on April 26, 2022
3 min read

Drug-induced gingival hyperplasia is a type of hyperplasia from drug side effects. In general, gingival hyperplasia refers to a condition in which the gum tissues surrounding the teeth grow excessively. Usually, that overgrowth is due to poor oral hygiene

Drug-induced gingival hyperplasia is caused by certain medications. Once you stop taking these prescription drugs, gingival hyperplasia symptoms go away. ‌

Some drugs that cause gingival hyperplasia may be available over-the-counter or prescribed for a variety of conditions. Talk to your doctor if you have previously experienced gingival hyperplasia due to drug use. 

One class of drugs known to cause gingival hyperplasia is calcium channel blockers. These drugs treat migraine headaches, regulate mood, and relieve panic attacks. 

Other drugs that can cause gingival hyperplasia are: 

  • amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • ethosuximide (Zarontin
  • lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • nifedipine (Adalat)
  • phenobarbitone (Luminal)
  • primidone (Mysoline)
  • topiramate (Topamax)
  • vigabatrin (Sabril)

If you notice any signs of overgrowth on your gums after using any of these drugs, stop using the medicine right away. Speak to your doctor about alternative medications. 

Cause‌s of gingival hyperplasia not caused by drugs include:

Inflammation. If plaque builds up on your teeth because of poor hygiene, certain foods, or bacteria, it can lead to inflammation. 

Inflammation makes your gums red and tender. Sometimes, you may also notice bleeding. If you floss correctly and practice proper oral hygiene, the condition usually goes away. 

Systemic. In some cases, some other diseases can also cause gingival hyperplasia. Hormonal imbalance during pregnancy is one of these conditions. Diabetes, anemia, and HIV can also cause gingival hyperplasia. 

Once you get treated for these underlying conditions, gingival hyperplasia also goes away. 

Genetics. ‌Hereditary gingival hyperplasia is a rare genetic disorder. It makes your gums extra-large. The condition often starts during childhood, but you may only begin seeing gingival hyperplasia symptoms during adulthood. 

Some common signs of gingival hyperplasia are: 

  • Tender gums 
  • Pain 
  • Bad breath
  • Inflammation
  • Buildup of plaque on the teeth 

If the condition is more severe, the overgrowth may cover one or more of your teeth. It will affect alignment and make it difficult to clean your teeth. You may also be at a higher risk of developing certain gum diseases. 

Your doctor will treat gingival enlargement based on the underlying cause. If the problem is poor oral hygiene, your doctor will recommend you brush and floss daily. It will improve your symptoms over time. 

For drug-induced gingival hyperplasia, doctors may prescribe a drug that won’t affect your gums. Once you stop using the drug that is causing gingival hyperplasia, the problem goes away. 

If your condition is inherited, or passed down by a family member, you may need surgery. 

Some procedures to treat gingival hyperplasia are: 

  • Laser excision. In this technique, a periodontist removes inflamed tissue of the gums with a laser. Once the tissue is removed, the periodontist scrapes away the plaque buildup around the teeth or roots. 
  • Electrosurgery. In this technique, the periodontist uses electric currents to remove the overgrowth from the gums. They may remove the overgrowth or cut the section that is causing you problems. 
  • Gingivectomy. It is a procedure in which the periodontist removes a specific section of your gums. They will remove the inflamed or damaged part of the gums and repair the rest with stitches. 
  • Periodontal flap surgery. This surgery separates your teeth from the gums. The periodontist folds back the gums temporarily and removes inflamed tissues. They also clean the plaque around your teeth and their roots. 

To prevent gingival hyperplasia, you should practice good oral hygiene. Make sure you keep track of medications that have caused the condition in the past. If you have to use the same medicinal drugs in the future, ask your doctor to prescribe a substitute.