According to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology, prolonged use of anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) is closely associated with significant levels of gingival enlargement. gingival overgrowth, which can lead to gingivial overgrowth. Overgrown gums make it easier for bacteria found in plaque to accumulate and attack supporting structures of the teeth, potentially leading to severe periodontal infection.

“Although it has been reported that many of the adverse effects of AAS abuse are fully reversible within several months after the cessation of the drug, it is not known if gingival enlargement would also regress after the withdrawal of AAS,” says Onur Ozcelik, DDS, PhD, Faculty of Dentistry, Cukurova University, Department of Periodontology, Adana, Turkey.

Researchers examined 24 athletes between the ages of 17 and 29 who had been using AAS for more than 1 year. All subjects were examined for plaque levels, gingival inflammation, and gingival enlargement. The results were then compared with a control group of 20 bodybuilders who had never used AAS drugs and matched for age, educational level, and oral habits.

Researchers also found that gingival inflammation was higher in the AAS user group compared to the non-AAS users.

“It is not surprising that gingival tissue is a target for the actions of steroid hormones," says Kenneth A. Krebs, DMD, and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. “Clinical changes in tissues of the periodontium have been identified during periods of hormonal fluctuations such as puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, contraceptives, and ovulation induction drugs in women.”

According to Ozcelik, further studies are required to find out if increased gingival scores in the user group are a direct effect of AAS or if the inflammation is a result of compromised oral hygiene due to gingival enlargement.

[www.sciencedaily.com, July 6, 2006]