Lesson 4: Supporting Structures

Image:  Gingiva.

The gingiva is an important part of the periodontium. In a healthy mouth, the gingiva is the only exposed periodontal tissue. The gingivae are visible, these fleshy structures are commonly called “gums.” The gingivae cover and protect the tooth-bearing bones of the jaw (the mandible and maxilla).

The gingival margin is the top edge of the gingiva surrounding each tooth. The gingiva extending between two neighboring teeth is the interdental papilla.

The gingival sulcus, or gingival crevice and also called the “gum pocket,” is the crevice or pocket between the neck of the tooth and the top of the gums, or gingival crest.

Dr. Lee to John: "John, since you’re in for your six-month check-up, we will be checking the size of your gingival pockets as a measure of your gingival health."

Here we can see John’s gingiva. Healthy gingivae have a salmon or coral-pink color, like his do. Upon closer examination, the tissue of John’s gingiva is stippled and firm, without embrasure, and the bone level is at the normal height.

Dr. Lee to John: "You must have been flossing regularly, because your gingivae look nice and healthy."


We classify the health of gingiva by measuring the depth in millimeters of each gingival sulcus with a periodontal probe.

Shallower probing measurements are an indication of good health, whereas deeper measurements can indicate disease.

Probing each gingival sulcus reveals that they are between 1 mm and 3 mm in depth, a healthy amount.

Dr. Lee to John: "Your gingival pockets look healthy and firm … keep up the good oral care!"