3 Things Hypertension Sufferers Need To Know About Gingival Overgrowth

Posted on: 9 February 2016

Gingival overgrowth, also called gingival hyperplasia, refers to the abnormal growth of your gum tissues. This condition can occur as a side effect of a wide range of prescription medications, including the calcium-channel blockers you're taking to control your blood pressure. Here are three things hypertension sufferers need to know about gingival overgrowth.

How do hypertension drugs cause gingival overgrowth?

Calcium-channel blockers work by widening your blood vessels to allow more blood to pass through them. However, these drugs also have other effects within your body, and researchers still aren't completely sure how they cause gingival overgrowth.

One theory is that the drugs affect your calcium metabolism, which plays a role in the replacement of your gum tissues. Normally, your gum cells are constantly dying off and being replaced with new cells, just like the rest of the cells in your body. When you take calcium channel blockers, this process appears to be interrupted; new cells continue to build up, but the old ones don't die and slough off like they should.

Another theory is that the drug interacts with your proinflammatory cytokines. In simple terms, proinflammatory cytokines are responsible for telling your other cells what to do. Under the influence of calcium-channel blockers, they may instruct your gums to produce more collagen, which makes them grow.

Not everyone who takes calcium-channel blockers experiences gingival overgrowth. Poor oral hygiene is a major contributing factor, so while you're taking these drugs, be vigilant about brushing and flossing. Frequent visits to your dentist for professional cleanings have also been shown to help stave off gingival overgrowth.

What are the signs of gingival overgrowth?

Gingival overgrowth is fairly easy to identify. You'll notice that your gums are larger than they used to be—especially in between your teeth—and are now covering part of your teeth. This overgrowth can be asymptomatic, but your gums may bleed or feel sore. If you experience these symptoms, see your dentist right away and make sure to mention that you're taking calcium-channel blockers.

Can gingival overgrowth be reversed?

Your dentist control your overgrowth by thoroughly cleaning your mouth. After your appointment, you'll need to be meticulous about your oral hygiene routine. This may be the only treatment you need for your gingival overgrowth, but if your gums don't recede, your dentist can surgically remove the excess tissue.

If you're taking calcium-channel blockers to control your hypertension and have noticed that your gums are growing, see a dentist at http://www.larsen-haslemdental.com right away.