In the healthy subgingiva, oral treponemes account for a small percentage of the total bacteria. However, in diseased periodontal pockets, treponemes thrive and become a dominant component of the bacterial population. Oral treponemes are uniquely adept at capitalizing on the environmental conditions that develop with periodontal disease. The molecular basis of adaptive responses of oral treponemes is just beginning to be investigated and defined. The completion of several treponeme genome sequences and the characterization of global regulatory systems provide an important starting point in the analysis of signaling and adaptive responses. In this review, we discuss existing literature focused on the genetic regulatory mechanisms of Treponema denticola and present an overview of the possible roles of regulatory proteins identified through genome analyses. This information provides insight into the possible molecular mechanisms utilized by oral spirochetes to survive in the periodontal pocket and transition from a minor to a dominant organism.