We have re-examined the arrangement of epithelia surrounding molar teeth with limited eruption in the rat, mouse and hamster. Our methods permitted enamel to be retained in paraffin and glycolmethacrylate sections, so providing optimal preservation of epithelial relationships. Three basic patterns of epithelial arrangement were observed on the various aspects of molars. Non-keratinized junctional epithelium covers the interdental septum and the base of all gingival crevices even in areas of gingival recession. In all areas other than the interdental septum, a fold of keratinized gingival epithelium lies beneath the lateral aspects of junctional epithelium. The buccal and lingual aspects of interdental septa show a zone of transition between these two basic types of epithelial arrangement. In intact gingiva the junctional epithelium can be seen to extend a considerable distance on to enamel surfaces, with the result that actual gingival crevice depths are even less than previously assumed. Artefacts resulting from loss of enamel during processing are discussed in the light of previous attempts to explain epithelial arrangements in rodent gingivae.

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