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Gingiva and teeth

Learning objectives

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Understand the histological structure of the gingiva and teeth.
  2. Identify their parts under the microscope.

Browse atlas

Teeth are a major component of the oral cavity and are essential for the beginning of the digestive process.

Teeth are made up of three specialized tissues:

  • Enamel, which is a hard, thin, translucent layer of acellular mineralized tissue covering the crown of the tooth. Specifically, the enamel ends at the neck, or cervix, of the tooth at the cementoenamel junction. Enamel is composed of enamel rods extending over the entire thickness of the enamel layer. Polarized columnar cells (secretory-stage ameloblasts), are responsible for producing enamel. 
  • Dentin, which is the most abundant dental tissue, lying deep to the enamel in the crown and cementum in the root. 
  • Cementum, which is a thin, pale-yellowish layer of mineralized tissue covering the dentin of the root of the teeth. A layer of cementoblasts is typically observed on the outer surface of the cementum, next to the periodontal ligament.

The gingivae (sg. gingiva) (gums) are found in the oral cavity and comprise the surrounding part of the teeth. They consist of mucosal tissue that covers the alveolar processes of the maxilla and mandible and finish at the neck of each tooth. 

There are two types of gingivae: the marginal gingiva that is mobile and surrounds the neck of the tooth as well as the attached gingiva, which lies between the mobile gingiva and the alveolar gingiva.

The gingival epithelium encompasses the external surface of the gingiva including the mobile and fixed areas as well as the gingival sulcus and the junctional epithelium. It is divided into the following major sections: 

  • The oral epithelium is comprised of stratified squamous keratinizing epithelium and covers the oral and vestibular gingival surfaces. It is limited by the mucogingival junction and the gingival margin and also merges with the palatal epithelium at the borders of the palate
  • The sulcular epithelium is continuous with the oral epithelium and lines the gingival sulcus.
  • At the bottom of the gingival sulcus in its apex, the junctional epithelium lines the dentoepithelial junction.

Ready to review all these structures in further detail? Browse our image gallery below:

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