What is Gingiva?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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Gingiva is tough connective tissue which lines the base of the teeth, holding them in place and protecting the jaw and teeth roots from infections. Known informally as the gums, the gingiva are a very important part of the oral anatomy, and caring for them is critical to maintaining oral health. Problems with the gingiva can be identified during routine oral examinations, or noted by patients who experience changes in their mouths.

This connective tissue has a strong fibrous underlayer, covered in a layer of mucous membranes. The gingiva are very tough, designed to resist trauma from chewing and hard foods which enter the mouth. The base of this tissue is firmly anchored to the bone, while the upper portion is free, allowing the gingiva to run between the teeth to help stabilize them and keep them in place. In addition to anchoring the teeth, the gingiva also create a seal which prevents bacteria, plaque, and other foreign material from entering the roots of the teeth, where it could cause trauma or infection.

When a patient's gingiva become chronically inflamed, the condition is known as gingivitis. Classic symptoms of gingivitis can include changes in the color of the gingiva, along with swelling and bleeding. Patients may find that their gums are very tender after brushing their teeth, or that the gums bleed freely after oral care or eating. Gingivitis can lead to complications which include serious infections, and it is an issue which needs to be addressed.


Over time, the gingiva can recede. Sometimes gum recession is caused by gingivitis, but it can also be associated with other oral problems, or occur on its own. Receding gums are a cause for concern because they can expose a patient to the risk of infections and destabilize the teeth. Other gingival diseases can include gingival cancer, in which the cells in the gums become malignant, and gingival hyperplasia, in which the gums grow grossly enlarged.

Caring for the gingiva includes regularly brushing the teeth, using mouthwash to keep the mouth clean, and flossing between the teeth to remove buildup before it has a chance to develop into plaque and tartar. Regular teeth cleanings also promote dental health and give a dentist an opportunity to inspect the gums to confirm that they are in good condition. Patients who experience the symptoms of gingival disease should make an appointment with a dentist for an exam, as the prognosis is greatly improved when intervention is provided promptly.


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Post 1

does the gum grow back? my daughter hit her mouth and a big piece is hanging off. she on the way to the emergency room with dad but i think they are going to have to cut it off.

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