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June 2011
Volume 32, Issue 5

Peripheral Ossifying Fibroma: A Clinical Report

Shivani Sharma, MDS; Sharma Anamika, MDS; and Srinivas Sulugodu Ramachandra, MDS


Peripheral ossifying fibroma (POF) is a common solitary gingival overgrowth thought to arise from the gingival corium, periosteum, and periodontal ligament. Commonly used synonyms for POF include calcifying fibroblastic granuloma, peripheral fibroma with calcification, peripheral cementifying fibroma, and calcifying or ossifying fibrous epulis. Because it is possible to misdiagnose POF as pyogenic granuloma, peripheral giant cell granuloma, or odontogenic tumors, histopathological examination is, therefore, essential for accurate diagnosis, and differential diagnosis is important because of POF’s tendency to recur. This article presents a case of peripheral ossifying fibroma in a 15-year-old female along with the clinical, histopathologic, and radiographic features and treatment details.

Peripheral ossifying fibroma (POF) is a non-neoplastic enlargement of gingiva that is classified as a reactive hyperplastic inflammatory lesion.1 A common gingival growth, it is typically seen on the interdental papilla and is believed to comprise about 9% of all gingival growths. Females are more commonly affected than males, and anterior maxilla is the most prevalent location of involvement.2 The majority of lesions occur during a person’s second decade, with a declining incidence in later years.3 Although they are reported to reach more than 6 cm, POFs are usually less than 1.5 cm in diameter, and the diagnosis can be made by clinical inspection and biopsy.4 Histologically, this malady is a noncapsulated mass of cellular fibrous connective tissue with randomly distributed calcifications and/or mature bone.3 The etiology of POF is unclear. Trauma or local irritants such as plaque, calculus, microorganisms, masticatory forces, ill-fitting dentures, and poor-quality restorations are all known to precipitate the development of POF.5 After the elimination of local etiological factors, surgical excision is the preferred treatment.6

Case Report

A 15-year-old female patient reported to the Department of Periodontics at Subharti Dental College and Hospital in Meerut, India with a chief complaint of a painless gingival growth in relation to her upper right front teeth. The swelling started as a small nodule that progressed gradually to the present size within a span of 15 days. The patient did not give any history of trauma, injury, or food impaction and there was no significant medical history.

An intraoral examination revealed generalized pink gingiva with a well-demarcated, non-tender, firm, focal, sessile nodular growth arising from the interdental papilla of the maxillary right central and lateral incisors and covering the crown of the maxillary lateral incisor. The oval-shaped mass was 2.5 cm x 3 cm in size, with a reddish pink color, smooth surface, and distinct edges (Figure 1). Bleeding on probing was noted. An intraoral periapical radiograph of the maxillary right central and lateral incisors showed no underlying bone involvement (Figure 2). Clinically, differential diagnoses for the growth were pyogenic granuloma, peripheral odontogenic fibroma, fibroma, and peripheral giant cell granuloma. A provisional diagnosis of pyogenic granuloma was made for the gingival growth.

Oral hygiene instructions were given to the patient and oral prophylaxis was done. After 2 weeks, the growth was excised conservatively to prevent the development of an unsightly gingival defect in the anterior maxilla, followed by root planing and curettage (Figure 3). The excised tissue was sent for histopathological examination, and the area was sutured with 3-0 silk, using sling suture (Figure 4). The patient was recalled after 1 week for suture removal and showed uneventful healing (Figure 5). At 6 months recall, recurrence of the growth was not observed (Figure 6).

Histologically, the specimen showed parakeratinized stratified squamous epithelium and underlying connective tissue, which was composed of densely packed collagen fibers and fibroblasts. Deeper areas showed the presence of multiple irregular calcified areas and osteoblastic rimming. Patchy distribution of chronic inflammatory cells was seen (Figure 7). Histologically, the specimen was suggestive of peripheral ossifying fibroma/peripheral calcifying fibroma. Based on clinical and histological findings, the lesion was diagnosed as POF.


Ossifying fibroma occurs mostly in craniofacial bones and is generally categorized into two types: central and peripheral.7 The central type of ossifying fibroma arises from the endosteum or the periodontal ligament (PDL) adjacent to the root apex and expands from the medullary cavity of the bone. On the other hand, the peripheral type shows a contiguous relationship with the PDL, occurring solely on the soft tissues overlying the alveolar process.

The reasons for considering a PDL origin for POF include: exclusive occurrence of POF in the gingiva (interdental papilla); the proximity of the gingival lesion to the periodontal ligament; the presence of oxytalan fibers within the mineralized matrix of some lesions; age distribution, which is inversely related to the number of lost permanent teeth; and the fibrocellular response in POF, which is similar to the other reactive gingival lesions of PDL origin.8

POF is a fairly common lesion, comprising nearly 1% to 3% of oral lesions biopsied in various reports.2,4,9 Clinically, the POF presents as an exophytic, smooth surfaced, pink or red nodular mass that is sessile; it is also less frequently seen on a pedicle.10 Approximately 60% of POFs occur in females with predilection for maxilla,9 and more than 50% of all cases occur in the incisor-cuspid region.11 Migration of teeth with interdental bone destruction has been reported in some cases.12 Roentgenographically, in a vast majority of cases there is no apparent underlying bone involvement visible. On rare occasions, there appears to be superficial erosion of bone.13 In the present case, underlying bone involvement was not observed.

While the etiology of POF is unclear, inflammatory hyperplasia originating in the superficial PDL is considered to be a factor in POF’s causation.4 Orkin and Amaidas14 suggested that excessive proliferation of mature fibrous connective tissue is a response to gingival injury or gingival irritations, subgingival calculus or a foreign body in the gingival sulcus, and dental appliances and restorations. In addition, factors such as a high female predilection and a peak occurrence in the second decade of life suggest hormonal influences.9 The pathogenesis of POF remains controversial. Chronic irritation of the periosteal and periodontal membrane causes metaplasia of the connective tissue, which initiates formation of bone or dystrophic calcification.14 Prasad et al15 observed that POF in some cases may initially develop as a pyogenic granuloma that undergoes subsequent fibrous maturation and calcification. In the present case, plaque and calculus along with hormonal influences due to the patient’s age and sex might have been the cause for the gingival growth.

Clinical differential diagnosis for gingival growths includes fibroma, peripheral giant cell granuloma, pyogenic granuloma, peripheral odontogenic fibroma, and peripheral ossifying fibroma (Table 1).13 The definitive diagnosis of POF is made by histologic evaluation of biopsy specimen.6 Histologically, the key feature of this lesion is exceedingly cellular mass of connective tissue comprising large numbers of plump, proliferating fibroblasts intermingled throughout with delicate fibrillar stroma.13 Buchner et al3 observed that the mineralized tissues observed in POF can be of three basic types: 1) bone that may be woven or lamellar bone sometimes surrounded by osteoid, or that may be in trabecular form; 2) cementum-like material that appears as spherical bodies resembling cementum or large acellular round-to-oval eosinophilic bodies, which seemed to have coalesced to form islands in various sizes and shapes; 3) dystrophic calcifications, which can range from small clusters of minute basophilic granules or tiny globules to large, solid irregular masses. The surface of POF exhibits either an intact or, more frequently, an ulcerated layer of stratified squamous epithelium. On occasion, areas will be found containing multinucleated giant cells that, with the surrounding tissue, bear considerable resemblance to some areas of peripheral giant cell granuloma.13

Surgical excision is the preferred choice of treatment for POF.13 The recurrence rate of POF is high, varying from 7% to 45%,4 which may reflect the technique and philosophy of surgical management. Neville et al11 suggested that the lesion be removed down to the periosteum and the adjacent teeth be scaled to remove any remaining irritants. This will assist in lowering the rate of recurrence. In addition, any identifiable irritant such as an ill-fitting dental appliance and rough restoration should be removed.16 However, Walters et al16 also stated that total excision of the lesion in the maxillary anterior region can result in an unsightly gingival defect unless appropriate efforts are taken to repair the periosteal defects. Various different surgical techniques like lateral sliding flap of full thickness or partial thickness, subepithelial connective tissue graft, or coronally positioned flap may be used to manage this defect and minimize patient esthetic concerns.


In conclusion, a slowly growing soft-tissue mass with speckled calcifications in the anterior oral cavity of young adults or children should raise a suspicion of a reactive gingival lesion such as POF. Histopathological examination is essential for accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, POF should be treated by total excision to prevent recurrence.


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10. Sezer B, Koyunecu B, Unal T, et al. Peripheral ossifying fibroma: A clinical and histologic evaluation of 98 cases. J Appl Res Clin Dent.2004;1:12-16.

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14. Orkin DA, Amaidas VD. Ossifying fibrous epulis—an abbreviated case report. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 1984;57(2):147-148.

15. Prasad S, Reddy SB, Patil SR, et al. Peripheral ossifying fibroma and pyogenic granuloma. Are they interrelated? N Y State Dent J. 2008;74(2):50-52.

16. Walters JD, Will JK, Cacchilo DA, Raabe DA. Excision and repair of the peripheral ossifying fibroma: a report of 3 cases. J Periodontol. 2001;72(7):939-944.

About the Authors

Shivani Sharma, MDS
Senior Lecturer
Department of Periodontics
Kanti Devi Dental College
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India

Sharma Anamika, MDS
Head of the Department
Department of Periodontics
Subharti Dental College
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India

Srinivas Sulugodu Ramachandra, MDS
Senior Lecturer
Department of Periodontics
Kanti Devi Dental College
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India

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