Soft gums are prone to inflammation

Researchers from Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Dentistry in Japan have discovered that softer gums hinder the development of gingiva fibroblasts — the cells that help produce the fibres that hold our teeth in place.

The tissue area that surrounds our teeth is known as the gingiva, and healthy teeth will nestle firmly into the gums thanks to the many gingival fibres that connect the tooth to the gingiva. It was discovered that gingiva stiffness influences the properties of gingival fibroblasts, which in turn affect whether inflammation is likely to occur and make gingival fibres difficult to form.

Associate Prof. Masahiro Yamada, along with his colleague Prof. Hiroshi Egusa, also from the Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Dentistry, created an artificial culture environment that simulated soft or hard gingiva and cultured human gingival fibroblasts on them. They discovered that hard gingiva-simulated stiffness activated an intracellular anti-inflammatory system in the gingival fibroblasts that prevented inflammation. Yet, soft gingiva-simulated stiffness suppressed the fibroblastic anti-inflammatory system. This increased the likelihood of inflammation and resulted in less collagen synthesis.

Associate Prof. Masahiro Yamada explains: “Our research is the first to demonstrate the biological mechanisms at play in regard to a patient’s gingival properties. The results are expected to accelerate the development of advanced biomaterials to control local inflammation or microdevices that simulate the microenvironment of inflammatory conditions”.

Their findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports on January 24, 2023.