Gingival Enlargement (Hyperplasia)

Gingival enlargement or hyperplasia is the overgrowth or enlargement of gum tissue or gingiva most commonly seen in dogs, particularly Boxers. Gingival enlargement is the correct term to use when seen on oral exam. Gingival hyperplasia is a histopathology diagnosis based on a gingival biopsy. Gingival enlargement can occur in one area of the mouth or generalized throughout all four quadrants of the mouth. As mentioned some breeds are predisposed, it may also be caused by inflammation from periodontal disease or by certain medications such as cyclosporine, calcium channel blockers and phenobarbital.

Gingival enlargement becomes a clinical problem for the pet when the enlarged tissue creates a periodontal pocket (pseudopocke) around the tooth. As the pseudopocket deepens, trapped debris and bacteria initiate inflammation and periodontal disease. Eventually the gingival tissue covers the teeth, this become very painful as the pet begins to bite down and chew on their own gum tissue. This can lead to further infection and decreased appetite. Its not uncommon for owners to notice bleeding gums, halitosis, and difficulty eating.

In these advanced cases, surgical resection of gingiva (gingivectomy/gingivoplasty) to restore the gums to a more normal anatomy is indicated.

If your dog or cat appears to have this condition, it is very important to get a confirmed diagnosis from a veterinary dental specialist. It is not unusual to have a cancerous lesion associated with the gingival enlargement. A detailed examination by a veterinary dental specialist is highly recommended