August 19, 2023

What is Sulcus in Dentistry?

The sulcus in dentistry is the crevice between a tooth and gum tissue. The space is naturally tight around a healthy tooth, and it should stay about two to three millimeters deep in most people. If it gets deeper than that, it is called a periodontal pocket and may indicate gum disease. A dental professional will measure the depth of a sulcus with a periodontal probe during a routine dental exam.

Healthy gingivitis and excellent oral hygiene can keep your sulcus at a normal depth. However, when you don’t brush and floss your teeth properly, sulcus depth can get worse over time. This can allow food debris and plaque to accumulate in the sulcus, creating a dangerous biofilm that erodes the delicate periodontal attachment fibers that connect the gingiva to the tooth. The result is a chronic inflammatory condition known as periodontitis.

The sulcus is filled with a non-keratinized stratified squamous sulcular epithelium that’s continuous to the junctional epithelium and inner gingival epithelium. It is thicker than the junctional epithelium and attaches coronally to it. Sulcular epithelium is an important part of the peri-gingival ecosystem because it is anaerobic and is filled with Gingival Crevicular Fluid (GCF). This GCF contains plasma proteins that improve the adhesion between the cementum and enamel, antimicrobial activities, and antibody activity to help protect the sulcus from bacterial attack. It also delivers novel substrates for microbial metabolism. This microbial ecology makes the sulcus an ideal site for periodontal disease.

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