The increase with age of the width of attached gingiva

Periocampus Journal Club - January 10, 2022


For this issue of the Periocampus Herald, I selected another classical study in the field of Periodontology. The study, described in the paper published in 1976 in the Journal of Periodontal Research, entitled "The increase with age of the width of attached gingiva" focuses on ... anatomy.

The significance of the study is that it shows the stability of the mucogingival line as an anatomical structure over time. The authors recruited 80 healthy subjects with intact teeth, half of whom were aged between 21 and 30 years (20 men and 20 women) and the other half between 39 and 51 years (20 men and 20 women). In their experiment, the authors used iodine solution to identify the mucogingival line and then marked it with small pieces of metal to identify it on the panoramic X-ray taken later (we will overlook the ethical considerations that would surely not allow such a study today). On the radiographs, they measured the distance between the line and the cementoenamel junction (CEJ) of the teeth and the base of the jaw. The extremely interesting result was that the distance between the line and the base of the jaw was constant irrespective of age, while the height of the attached gingiva, i.e. the distance between the line and the CEJ, increased with age, showing that teeth erupt continuously over the years and that the position line remains constant throughout time.

It is a very straightforward article, with simple methodology and direct analysis. The discussion is clear and refers to the whole series of articles that these authors have produced on the subject. I strongly recommend this article to every Periodontist, especially if you are keen on mucogingival surgery.

Ainamo, J., & Talari, A. (1976). The increase with age of the width of attached gingiva. Journal of Periodontal Research, 11(4), 182–188.