Inflammation is a complex and highly regulated process that facilitates the clearance of pathogens and mediates tissue repair. Failure to resolve inflammation can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases such as periodontitis. Matrix metalloproteinases are generally thought to be detrimental in disease because degradation of extracellular matrix contributes to pathology. However, proteomic techniques (degradomics) are revealing that matrix metalloproteinases process a diverse array of substrates and therefore have a broad range of functions. Many matrix metalloproteinase substrates modulate inflammation and hence, by processing these proteins, matrix metalloproteinases can orchestrate the inflammatory response.