The conversion of junctional epithelium to pocket epithelium is regarded as a hallmark in the development of periodontitis. Knowledge of factors contributing to the initiation and progression of pocket formation is important and may result in the development of better preventive measures and improve healing outcomes after therapeutic interventions. The periodontal pocket is a pathologically deepened gingival sulcus. In healthy periodontal conditions, the defense mechanisms are generally sufficient to control the constant microbiological challenge through a normally functioning junctional epithelium and the concentrated powerful mass of inflammatory and immune cells and macromolecules transmigrating through this epithelium. In contrast, destruction of the structural integrity of the junctional epithelium, which includes disruption of cell-to-cell contacts and detachment from the tooth surface, consequently leading to pocket formation, disequilibrates this delicate defense system. Deepening of the pocket apically, and also horizontal expansion of the biofilm on the tooth root, puts this system to a grueling test. There is no more this powerful concentration of defense cells and macromolecules that are discharged at the sulcus bottom and that face a relatively small biofilm surface in the gingival sulcus. In a pocket situation, the defense cells and the macromolecules are directly discharged into the periodontal pocket and the majority of epithelial cells directly face the biofilm. The thinning of the epithelium and its ulceration increase the chance for invasion of microorganisms and their products into the soft connective tissue and this aggravates the situation. Depending on the severity and duration of disease, a vicious circle may develop in the pocket environment, which is difficult or impossible to break without therapeutic intervention.

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