Gingival Tissue and The Aging Process

The process of aging affects all organs alike. Not only does it stretch the skin tissue and slow the muscle growth, it also affects the dental tissue. Studies have shown that the process of aging leads to fibrosis, decreases the cellularity of the connective tissue, and down the growth of epithelial attachment.

The process of aging effects in similar fashion for most tissues of the body. It increases the collagen formation in most tissues. Collagen is a fiber which is formed at a slower rate and is eliminated continuously out of the body. The increased formation, in the end, chokes the cells in the tissue leading to cell death. Therefore, it leads to following changes in the tissues of the body.

  1. Changes in the permeability of cell
  2. Decrease in the reparative capacity of the tissue
  3. Decreased elasticity of the skin tissue
  4. Desiccation, i.e. drying of the tissue

For the periodontal tissue, aging leads to changes in the vasculature, gingival connective tissue, periodontal ligament, cementum, and alveolar bone. Aging makes the gingival tissue recedes, which may lead to thinner and fragile gums. Studies show that over 71% of the people between the ages of 50-59 have a gingival recession in their gums. The condition is even more severe amongst the people between the ages of 80 and 90, where the cases are at 90%.

This is damage caused by several changes in the gingival tissue which comprises of:

  1. Coarser Gingival Tissue

The process of aging makes the gingival connective tissue coarser and denser. This leads to the uneven formation of the tissue and increased dental problems. This leads to thinning of the gum tissue at several places and therefore, could be a cause of gum receding.

  1. Thickness of collagen fibers

Aging alters the chemical and physical properties of the collagen and increases its thickness. It also increases the rate of conversion of soluble to insoluble collagen. This, in turn, decreases the rate of synthesis of collagen and therefore, doesn’t eliminate it out of the body.

  1. Resistance to proteolytic enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes play a major role in breaking down the protein and further helping the immune system of the body. Aging increases the resistance to these anti-inflammatory enzymes.

  1. Increased thermal contraction of collagen fibers

The aging increases the thermal contraction of collagen fibers as well as the denaturing temperature of the same. This increases the density of the collagen in the tissue.

  1. Greater collagen content

The process of aging leads to a decrease in the vitro extensibility of the collagen fibers. It increases the overall collagen content by constructing it at a faster pace than usual and therefore, thickens its fibers. Thus, it hampers the cell growth as well.

  1. Decrease in water content of collagen

The tissue function is largely dependent upon the functioning of collagen fibers. Thickening of which inhibits the cell growth and destroys the tissue progress as well. Aging leads to a decrease in the water content of the collagen and increased tensile strength of the fibers impacting its overall thickness.

Author
Bello Dental

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