Do your gums appear to be red and swollen? If the swelling does not go away with regular brushing, flossing, and mouthwash use -- and if the inflammation seems to be growing up and over your teeth -- you may have a condition called gingival fibromatosis. Here's a look at this dental ailment and what it means for your health.

What is gingival fibromatosis?

Gingival fibromatosis is an inherited condition. However, it does not often start showing obvious symptoms until a person reaches adulthood, so it's not usually diagnosed promptly. Since the early symptoms mimic those of gum disease, dentists sometimes believe their patients have gum disease and send them home with instructions to pay more attention to cleaning their teeth. Only when this does not work does it become clear that gingival fibromatosis is to blame.

What are the symptoms of the condition?

Gingival fibromatosis causes the gums to swell, but over time, the swelling starts centralizing to growth-like pockets and bulges. These bulges may overlap some of the teeth, growing redder and more inflamed over time. This can eventually lead to tooth decay as the overgrown gum tissue makes it hard for patients to keep the teeth clean. Bacteria can get trapped between the gums and the teeth, leading to cavities and a secondary infection of the gums. The growths also make it hard for the patient to eat and speak comfortably.

How is gingival fibromatosis treated?

If your dentist diagnoses you with this condition, he or she will likely recommend surgery to remove the largest growths from your gums. This procedure is typically done under local anesthesia, which means your gums will be numb, but you'll remain awake and aware during the procedure. After surgery, you will have to stick to soft foods for a week or two, and eventually have some stitches removed.

After you have surgery, your dentists will monitor the condition of your gums closely. Sometimes, additional procedures will be needed to remove new gum tissue that grows. Other times, the surgery seems to halt the overgrowth process, and no additional procedures are needed.

You should never ignore serious gum swelling that does not respond to brushing and mouthwash use. While you may just have a serious case of gum disease, gingival fibromatosis is also a possibility. And both serious gum disease and gingival fibromatosis require specialized treatment from a dentist like Bradley T Piotrowski DDS MSD LLC if you want to protect your teeth and keep eating your favorite foods.