Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions affecting humans, and current treatment strategies, which focus on the removal and long-term control of dental plaque, are generally successful in eliminating active disease and promoting tissue repair. However, regeneration of the supporting structures of the tooth remains an elusive goal and a challenge. The formation of new bone and cementum with supportive periodontal ligament is the ultimate objective, but current regeneration therapies are incapable of achieving this in a predictable way. The regeneration of periodontal tissue requires a combination of fundamental events, such as appropriate level and sequencing of regulatory signals, the presence of progenitor cells, an extracellular matrix or carrier and an adequate blood supply. Based on tissue-engineering concepts, the regeneration process may be modulated by manipulating the signaling pathways of regulatory molecules, the extracellular matrix or scaffold, or the cellular components. The identification of mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow started a new era in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering using mesenchymal stem cells became a therapeutic option with several advantages, including high-quality regeneration of damaged tissues without the formation of fibrous tissue, minimal donor-site morbidity compared with autografts and a low risk of autoimmune rejection and disease transmission. The aim of this review was to describe the main sources of mesenchymal stem cells from tissues in the oral cavity and the potential of these cells in regenerative therapy. Special attention is paid to gingival tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells because they represent the most accessible source of stem cells in the human mouth.