The periodontal ligament is the dense fibrous connective tissue that occupies the periodontal space between the root of the tooth and the alveolus. It is derived from the dental follicle . The average width of the periodontal space is 0.2 mm. Functionally, the periodontal ligament is:
• the tissue of attachment between the tooth and alveolar bone; it is thus responsible for resisting displacing forces (the tooth support mechanism) and for protecting the dental tissues from damage caused by excessive occlusal loads (especially at the root apex)
• responsible for the mechanisms whereby a tooth attains, and then maintains, its functional position; this includes the mechanisms of tooth eruption (see page 120), tooth support (particularly the recovery response after loading) and drift
• involved in the formation, maintenance and repair of alveolar bone and cementum
• via its mechanoreceptors, involved in the neurological control of mastication.
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