The gingiva is the soft tissue that covers the alveolar process and surrounds the
neck of the teeth. The gingiva consists of an outer layer of epithelium and an inner
layer of connective tissue. The gingiva is described as being free or attached. The free
gingiva is that portion of the gingiva surrounding the neck of the tooth just above the
cervix, not directly attached to the tooth, and forming the soft tissue wall of the gingival
sulcus. The gingival sulcus is the V-shaped space between the free gingiva and the
tooth. A healthy gingival sulcus extends to a depth of approximately 2 mm, at which
point the gingiva is attached to the tooth by the epithelial attachment. See figure 3-5.
The interdental papilla is the portion of the gingiva that fills the interproximal space
between two adjacent teeth. A healthy gingiva is pink, firm, and resilient. Healthy
gingiva is pale, coral pink and firm. When inflamed, the gingiva may become sore and
swollen, and it may bleed.
Figure 3-5. Close-up view of the gingiva and tooth structures.