Anatomy and Function of the Gums

Jeffrey Felzer, DMD pic

Jeffrey Felzer, DMD

Dr. Jeffrey Felzer leads a private periodontal practice in Wilmington, Delaware. There, Dr. Jeffrey Felzer provides diagnoses and treatment for a broad range of gum issues.

The gum tissue, known clinically as gingiva, is a form of connective tissue that serves to support the roots of the teeth. The gums develop in babies before the teeth erupt. The initial gum pads grow out of the oral mucus membrane and wrap around the teeth as they emerge from the jaw.

Once fully developed, gum tissue is soft, yet only marginally sensitive to temperature, pressure, and discomfort. Healthy gum tissue will remain firmly attached to teeth and will not bleed when brushed or probed.

The gums remain attached to the teeth by the periodontal membrane, also known as the periodontal ligament. This tissue is also responsible for keeping the tooth secure in the jaw, though this function may fail in the face of prolonged infection.

Before it affects the teeth or underlying structure, however, infection of the gums will cause redness, swelling, and/or bleeding with contact. Untreated infection can cause the gums to recede and expose the roots of the teeth that they ordinarily serve to protect.