Primary, or baby teeth are the only teeth that should ever become loose. A permanent tooth that is loose is cause for concern – and a prompt visit to your dentist. Depending on the severity of the situation, sometimes a loose tooth cannot be saved and may need to be extracted. If you experience one or more loose teeth don’t panic – your dentist may be able to help so that your teeth can be healed.
What may cause a loose tooth
There are several reasons that a tooth may become loose.
- Bacterial infection
- Bone loss
- Clenching and grinding
- Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease, gingivitis or gum disease are the primary causes of loose teeth. Pockets between the teeth and gums are formed – that fill with bacteria. The bacteria cause infection and inflammation which may result in the teeth becoming loose.
The result of untreated periodontal or gum disease is bone loss. The inflammation and infection gradually eats away the underlying jawbone – as well as the ligaments that connect the teeth to the bone. When the bone becomes degraded, it no longer can support the tooth and gum tissue becomes detached, resulting in a loose tooth.
Continual grinding and clenching of the teeth can also cause a tooth or teeth to become loose. Excessive grinding and clenching of your teeth can cause widening and stretching of the tissues surrounding the teeth which may result in the teeth becoming loose.
A traumatic event is often the cause of one or more teeth to become loose. If this happens, you should contact your dental care provider as soon as possible.
Can a loose tooth be saved?
Depending on the cause and severity a loose tooth or teeth, your tooth stands a good chance of being saved. Your dentist will recommend the best treatment for your situation.
- Deep cleaning
- Mouth guard
Professional cleaning. A professional deep cleaning will likely be recommended if a loose tooth or teeth is caused by gum disease. Since deep pockets are formed by gum disease, it will be important to clean into the pocket to remove the bacteria, inflammation and infection from between the tooth and gum. By cleaning the pockets causing the gum disease, gums become healthier and the loose teeth will tighten – and be back to normal. Professional cleaning is the only way that your teeth can get a cleaning that is deep enough to potentially save a tooth that has been loosened by gum disease.
Mouth guard. To protect your teeth from grinding during the night – a mouth guard may be recommended. The guard is to be worn at night and give your teeth a chance to rest and tighten up. Mouth guards used to protect teeth from night time grinding are made from firm but flexible dental plastic. Your dentist will fit you with one that will help reduce the damage that grinding and clenching can cause.
Splinting. A simple treatment for a loose tooth is to splint it to another tooth that is stable. This can be done by applying a bonding material that will anchor it to a tooth that is firm. Once your tooth has tightened up, the bonding material will be removed and your teeth will be back to normal.
Avoiding loose teeth - keeping your teeth in good repair
Whatever the reason for your teeth to be loose, your dentist will want to check on the progress on a regular basis. There are many things you can do proactively to prevent your teeth from becoming loose.
- Proper brushing
- Regular professional cleaning
- Regular visits to your dentist
Proper care of your teeth is the most important way to keep your teeth healthy. Brushing at least twice each day and flossing will go a long way in keeping your smile looking its very best. Having your teeth cleaned by a professional will keep your gums and teeth free of disease that may lead to loose teeth and even losing teeth. Top these tips off with regular visits to your dentist – and your mouth and teeth will stay healthy and your teeth will last a lifetime.