Peripheral giant-cell granulomas are a dental condition that are characterized by the development of bumps or nodules on the gum tissue. Here are five things you need to know about peripheral giant-cell granulomas.

What are the symptoms?

If you have a peripheral giant-cell granuloma, you'll notice the development of a soft nodule on your gum tissue. This nodule is purplish-red and tends to grow fairly quickly. After only a few months, the nodule can become as large as 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) in width. Eventually, they can reach sizes of 5 centimeters (1.97 inches) in width.

Most of the time, the nodule will be asymptomatic, but sometimes, it can be painful, which can make it hard for you to bite or chew. The surface of the nodule can also become ulcerated, which can lead to pain. The area around the nodule may become swollen, and if the nodule gets large enough, it can press against the nearby nerves and lead to tingling or numbness.

What causes peripheral giant-cell granuloma?

Researchers still haven't identified the cause of peripheral giant-cell granuloma, so for now, the condition is a bit of a mystery. It's known that the lesions are produced by an overgrowth of gum tissue, inflammatory cells, and fibroblasts (connective tissue cells), but the reason for this overgrowth is less clear. However, researchers have proposed many possible causes.

  • Poor oral hygiene which leads to the accumulation of plaque and tartar along the gum line
  • Gum disease, which occurs as a result of plaque and tartar accumulation
  • Poorly-fitting dentures, bridges, retainers, or other dental appliances that rub against your gum tissue and cause irritation
  • Tooth extractions or other dental procedures that can irritate the gum tissue
  • Poorly-performed dental procedures like inappropriate fillings or crowns
  • Hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause
  • Hyperparathyroidism, a type of thyroid disorder

Is it cancerous?

It can be alarming to see a strange, fast-growing lesion inside your mouth, but fortunately, peripheral giant-cell granuloma is benign. This means that it's not cancerous, and it won't be cancerous. However, this lesion can look fairly similar to conditions that are cancerous, so your dentist may take a biopsy of the lesion to confirm the diagnosis. Don't be alarmed if your dentist wants to do this, as it is just a precaution.

How do dentists treat it?

Your dentist will treat this lesion by surgically removing it. The lesion and surrounding gum tissue will be numbed with an injection of local anesthesia, so you won't feel pain during the procedure. Your dentist will carefully cut away the lesion with a scalpel or a laser. Once the lesion has been removed, the area beneath it will be cleaned to prevent it from growing back.

If the lesion was in a highly visible part of your mouth, you may need gum grafting afterwards. Gum grafting involves taking tissue from the roof of your mouth and sewing it onto the area where your lesion was. Since gum tissue tends to heal without scarring, you don't need to worry about scar tissue ruining your smile after a gum graft.

Who gets peripheral giant-cell granuloma?

Peripheral giant-cell granuloma incidence peaks during the mixed dentitional years, which means that it affects children whose permanent teeth are starting to erupt. The other peak is during the third and fourth decade of life. Among all age groups, it's more common among females than males. 

If you notice a fast-growing bump or nodule on your gum tissue, make sure to see your dentist right away. It could be a benign condition like peripheral giant-cell granuloma, but it could also be something more serious, and you won't know until you see a professional.

You can learn more about dental treatment for this and other issues by going here.