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Gingival Hypertrophy (gum overgrowth)

General Information

Gingival hypertrophy is an increase in the amount of gum tissue in your pet's mouth. Usually the condition occurs in dogs over 5 years of age, but younger dogs can be affected. The diseased area may involve only a small spot or all of the gums.

The most common causes of this condition are excessive dental tartar accumulation and chronic infection or inflammation of the gums. The disease occurs in 2 forms: (1) epulis, and (2) generalized gingival hypertrophy.

Epulis is a small area of thickened gum tissue. It is very hard and usually the same color as the rest of the gums.

Generalized gingival hypertrophy may be so extensive that the gums almost cover the teeth. The gums are very red and usually painful. Bleeding gums and loosened teeth also occur in this condition.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Treatment includes cleaning the teeth, relief from discomfort, treatment of infection, and in some cases, surgical removal of diseased tissue. Follow-up therapy is essential to prevent recurrence.

2. Teeth cleaning prevents tartar accumulation and is vitally important for proper gum health.

3. Giving your pet chewing material, such as rubber bones, helps prevent tartar accumulation and also massages the gums. (Bones splinter and are not recommended.)

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Your pet cannot chew properly.

* Your pet's gums bleed.

* Your pet paws at its mouth or shows discomfort.

* Your pet's general health changes.

Gingival Hypertrophy

Gingival hypertrophy is an overgrowth of gum tissue in your pet's mouth. The condition is common in dogs and some cats over 5 years of age. Causes of this condition include excessive dental tartar accumulation, chronic infection or inflammation of the gums, and reaction to a drug or medication. Tumors in the mouth are also associated with this disease.

The disease occurs in two forms, as generalized gingival hypertrophy and as an isolated growth known as an epulis. Generalized gingival hypertrophy affects wide areas of the gums and can be so extensive that the gums almost cover the teeth. The gums are red and usually painful and may bleed. Loose teeth are characteristic of this form of the disease.

An epulis appears as an area of firm, thickened gum tissue that is usually the same color as the rest of the gums. There are three types of epulis, two of which are not immediately dangerous to your pet's health. One type, however, called "acanthamatous epulis," behaves like a malignant tumor and should be treated immediately.


Treatment of generalized gingival hypertrophy includes professional teeth cleaning and administration of antibiotics if the gums are infected. In some animals, surgical removal and biopsy of diseased tissue is necessary. Follow-up examinations and treatment are essential to prevent recurrence.

With this and other dental disease in pets, prevention is dependent on good home care (including brushing your pet's teeth!) as well as regular teeth cleaning and dental examination by your veterinarian. Allowing your pet to chew hard toys such as rawhide or rubber helps prevent accumulation of tartar and also massages the gums. Real bones and cow hooves are not recommended, because they can cause tooth fracture.

Notify your veterinarian if any of the following occur:

The information on this page was obtained from the site www.amcny.org