Periodontium refer to the specialized tissues that both surround and support the teeth, maintaining them in the maxillary and mandibular bones. The word comes from the Greek terms peri-, meaning "around" and -odons, meaning "tooth." Literally taken, it means that which is "around the tooth".
Periodontics is the dental specialty that relates specifically to the care and maintenance of these tissues. It provides the support necessary to maintain teeth in function. It consists of four principal components namely: Gingiva Periodontal ligament (PDL) Cementum Alveolar bone. Each of these components is distinct in its location, tissue architecture, biochemical and chemical composition. They have their own distinct functions that are capable of adaptation during the life of the structure. For example as teeth respond to forces or migrate mesially, bone resorbs on the pressure side and is added on the tension side.
Cementum similarly adapts to wear on the occlusal surfaces of the teeth by apical deposition. The periodontal ligament in itself is an area of high turnover that allows the tooth not only to be suspended in the alveolar bone but also to respond to the forces. Thus, although seemingly static and having functions of their own, all of these components function as a single unit.
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