Gingival enlargement in Pets
Gingival enlargement (formerly gingival hyperplasia)
As gingival enlargement or hyperplasia, we describe the pathologic but non-inflammatory and non-neoplastic excessive growth of the gums (gingival tissue). It usually affects dogs, rather than cats and there is breed predilection. Boxers are the over presented breed, but Great Danes, Collies, Dalmatians and Doberman pinchers often have this condition, as well.
The etiology is divided into three categories:
-Idiopathic (we do not know the reason for this development)
-Specific medications (some immunosuppressant, calcium channel blockers, and some anticonvulsants)
Gingival enlargement signs usually involve the solitary, multiple or generalized enlargement of the gums. Secondary the gums may suffer from gum disease (periodontitis) and, therefore, might bleed easily. In some extreme cases, the dog cannot close its mouth without chewing on the hyperplastic tissue. All the above result in pain.
Your veterinarian will diagnose the disease but might need in some cases to take a biopsy, if there is doubt. The biopsy will differentiate a malignancy from a more benign, gingival enlargement.
The treatment includes withdrawal of the responsible medication, if possible, and if given and surgical correction, gingivoplasty. The latter includes the surgical recreation of the usual anatomy of the gums, eliminating the hyperplastic areas. Pain medication is a crucial part of the postoperative treatment because surgical manipulation of the gums is very painful. Additionally, a soft diet should be fed for the next two weeks following the surgery.
A few follow-up appointments are necessary, to ensure appropriate healing.
Unfortunately, this condition might re-occur, so biannual or annual rechecks are important. To maintain a good oral health, daily oral hygiene is required (daily teeth brushing, chewing toys, dental diets), because the theory is that in patients that are predisposed to this condition, keeping the teeth clean and the gums healthy may delay the recurrence of the disease.