Periodontium is the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth. The term, which literally means "around the tooth," is of Greek origin, with "peri" meaning "around," and "odon" meaning "tooth." It is rendered as periodontia in plural form and is an essential component of the structure and function of teeth.
Periodontium is responsible for holding the teeth in the maxilla and mandible. The maxilla refers to the bones that form the upper jaw, while the mandible comprises the lower jaw. Both fissures function to hold the upper and lower teeth in place.
A network of four tissues make up the periodontium. The alveolar bone, also referred to as the alveolar process, is the ridge at the maxilla and mandible that contains the sockets for the rows of teeth. A portion of it is adjacent to another tissue component of the periodontium, which is called the periodontal ligament. This network of connective fibers is responsible for attaching teeth to the alveolar bone, thereby enabling them to endure functions such as chewing without weakening or loosening.
A part of the periodontal ligament called the lamina dura attaches to a third type of tissue known as the cementum. This refers to the calcified surface layer of the periodontium that covers teeth's roots. It originates from cells secreted from the roots, which are called cementoblasts. This tissue of the periodontium stands alongside the pulp and other calcified substances such as enamel and dentin as one of the major components of the teeth.
The fourth and last type of tissue that makes up the periodontium is the gingiva, more commonly known as the gums. It firmly surrounds the teeth and the alveolar bone, thus acting as a sealant. Without the gums, the teeth would not be able to withstand the moving force of food during eating. More than just a binding substance, gingiva also forms part of the mouth's soft tissue lining.
The dental specialty of periodontics, also known as periodontology, is named after periodontium, since it refers to the health care of this collection of tissues. Dentists who practice this specialization are known as periodontists, and they focus on diseases or medical conditions that affect the periodontium. The most common periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. It is very important to take care of and maintain the periodontium. Neglect of this part of the oral anatomy can lead to tooth decay and loss.