Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Gum Swelling Anatomy

To better understand gingivitis, it helps to understand the anatomy of the teeth.


  • Primary or baby teeth: 12 total teeth
  • Permanent or secondary teeth: 32 total teeth

Tooth types:
  • Incisors: central and lateral incisors cut the food
  • Cuspids or canines cut and tear food
  • Pre-molars or bicuspids: shear the food
  • Molars: grind the food

Parts of a tooth:
  • Crown: The visible portion of a tooth.
  • Root: The portion of the tooth embedded in the gum.
  • Pulp: Located in the center of the tooth, it contains the arteries, veins, nerves and lymphatic tissue.

Layers of a tooth:
  • Dentin: underlies the enamel on the crown and cementum on the root
  • Enamel: the outer layer of the crown of the tooth; can be eroded by a cavity
  • Cementum: The outer layer of tissue covering the dentin on the root of the tooth

Portions of the tooth that hold it in place:
  • Gingiva: the gums are the soft tissues that surround the base of the tooth
  • Root canal: The canal in the root of the tooth is where the nerve and blood vessels travel with nutrients to the tooth from the mandible or the maxilla.
  • Ligament: The connective tissue that surrounds the root of a tooth and connects it to the maxilla or mandible.
  • Bone: Alveolar bone forms tooth socket and part of the teeth.

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Gum Swelling References
  1. Beirne P, Forgie A, Clarkson J, Worthington HV. Recall intervals for oral health in primary care patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Apr 18;(2):CD004346. [1584670]
  2. Ratcliff PA, Johnson PW. The relationship between oral malodor, gingivitis, and periodontitis. A review. J Periodontol. 1999 May;70(5):485-9. [10368052]
  3. Schatzle M, Loe H, Burgin W, Anerud A, Boysen H, Lang NP. Clinical course of chronic periodontitis. I. Role of gingivitis. J Clin Periodontol. 2003 Oct;30(10):887-901. [14710769]
  4. Trombelli L. Susceptibility to gingivitis: a way to predict periodontal disease? Oral Health Prev Dent. 2004;2 Suppl 1:265-9. [15646584]
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