A loose tooth in a child often signals an exciting rite of passage however, once a person reaches adolescence a loose tooth is no longer a normal occurrence.
Adults may be alarmed when they notice loose teeth. Adult teeth are permanent and designed to last a lifetime but when you start to notice one moving out of it’s groove, you know your in trouble. A loose upper incisor is at a higher risk of dislodgement. A dislodged tooth may be lost in the hypopharynx, esophagus, or may be aspirated into the lower airway.
Some causes of loose teeth in adults are harmless. Others require the care of a dental professional to save the tooth, but more on that later, first lets look at the main causes of loose teeth in adults.
Causes Of Loose Teeth In Adults
Poor dental hygiene may cause a loose tooth. Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease where the gums become infected with bacteria and cause them to recede exposing the root of the teeth. This will give bacteria more opportunity to eat away at the periodontal ligament and bone structure to the point where the teeth will not be able to stand anymore and will simply fall out.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States report that half of the country’s adults aged 30 or older have gum disease.
Inadequate brushing and flossing does not remove plaque and this will enable gum disease to develop. Plaque contains bacteria. It sticks to teeth and hardens over time until only a dental health professional can remove it.
Hardened plaque, known as tartar, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating gaps that can become infected.
Other signs of gum disease include:
- gums that are tender, red, painful, or swollen
- gums that bleed when the teeth are brushed
- gum recession
- changes in the way the teeth fit together
If you have any of these symptoms then an appointment with a dentist is in order. They can show you the underlying conditions and what you need to do to reverse the problem.
Remember: Early stages of gum disease is reversible (gingivitis), Periodontal disease Is Not! .
During pregnancy, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone are increased causing the bones and tissues in the mouth to alter. The scientific term for this is the periodontium which simply is the collection of bones and ligaments that support the teeth and keep them secure and fixed in their place.
When the periodontium is affected, the teeth become loose. Thankfully though, the changes to this structure will be back to normal after pregnancy and is not a major cause for concern. It’s important however, that you go see a dentist to rule out the possibility of gum disease or other dental problems.
It is absolutely safe for pregnant people to have dental checkups, cleanings, and X-rays, this is according to the American Dental Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. In fact, because of a possible link between gum disease and premature birth, pregnant people are encouraged to see dentists regularly.
Injury To The Teeth
Injuries sustained as a result of contact sports may cause loose teeth or even a fall can be enough to destroy a tooth.
Healthy teeth are strong, but an impact from a blow to the face or a car accident, for example, can damage teeth and surrounding tissue. The result may be chipped or loose teeth.
A tooth that is loose can be left in place because in many cases it can heal by itself without needing treatment. If an injured tooth that is very loose and seems like is about to fall out any minute should be removed due to the risk of you choking on it (while sleeping)
If a tooth was completely knocked off during injury, you should avoid putting it back into place because of the risk of damage to the permanent tooth to follow.
Another way people loosen teeth is through clenching when stressed out or grinding them at night when sleeping. Overtime this will wear down the tissues and loosen teeth. This is a big problem because many people are not even aware they are doing this until they start to feel pain in their jaw.
We suggest you become more self-aware of your teeth habits and see if there is a change of behaviour which causes you to do these things. Seeing a dentist will also help and they can give you a treatment option before the teeth are permanently damaged. It’s also worth mentioning that the front teeth are the most susceptible to dislocation.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to weaken and become porous. As a result, even minor bumps and impacts can lead to broken bones. In the United States more than 53 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.
While osteoporosis commonly affects the spine, hips, and wrists, it can also damage the bones in the jaw that support the teeth. If the jaw bones become less dense, the teeth may become loose and fall out. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. also report a possible link between bone loss and an increased risk of gum disease.
Certain medications used to treat osteoporosis can cause dental health problems, though this is uncommon. In rare cases, drugs called bisphosphonates, which help to treat bone loss, can lead to loose teeth. This is known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.
Authors of one study suggest that osteonecrosis rarely occurs in people who are taking bisphosphonates in pill form, but that the condition may develop in people who receive the medication intravenously. Trauma and surgical procedures, such as tooth extraction, can also cause osteonecrosis.
You Can’t Really Prevent Loose Teeth
Loose teeth cannot always be prevented, but you can take steps to reduce the risk. Here are some basic things that if you do daily will give you the best chance of avoiding loose teeth.
- Brushing the teeth thoroughly twice a day will help keep gum disease away
- flossing once a day will also keep gum disease away
- attending dental checkups and cleanings as often as recommended
- wearing a properly fitted mouth guard while playing sports
- wearing a bite splint, when night time grinding or clenching is an issue
- asking a doctor about calcium and vitamin D supplementation to help prevent osteoporosis
- keeping diabetes under control, as diabetes is a risk factor for gum disease
- being aware of medications that may affect the teeth
Treatment Options For A Loose Tooth
There is an extensive range of treatments which can help fix loose teeth, the best option for you will depend on the cause of the looseness and how expensive each one is.
- Scaling and root planing. This is a type of deep cleaning procedure that can treat and help to reverse gum disease. If your loose tooth is because of oral health then this is the best procedure for you.
- Medications or mouth rinses. These can help infected gums to heal and combat bacteria in the mouth. Avoid using Alcohol based mouthwashes as they don’t do much good. They will only dry out your mouth which causes more problems.
- Surgery. The aim will be to remove inflamed gum tissue and bone that has been damaged by gum disease.
- Bone grafts. These can help to rebuild bone lost to gum disease. If your loose tooth is moving around a lot then this might be an option to fix that.
- Soft tissue grafts. Also known as gum grafts, these can prevent further gum or tooth loss in people with gum disease. The dentist will usually take gum tissue from another part of your mouth and reattach it where it is needed.
- Dental appliances, such as bite splints. These can reduce damage from grinding and may help the mouth to heal after dental surgery.
If a loose tooth falls out, a dentist can often restore a person’s smile with:
- A dental bridge. This type of crown fits over the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. The result is a bridge between two healthy teeth, connected by a prosthetic or artificial tooth in the place of the one that is missing.
- A dental implant. This involves an artificial tooth and root, which is connected to the jawbone.
Loose teeth in adults can be down to a number of reasons, with the most common one being gum disease. If you neglect the health of your teeth, they will fall out, Simple!. Other causes include: pregnancy, sport related injuries and Osteoporosis. Each one comes with its own risk factors but if you get the right treatment, loose teeth can be managed.
There are many treatment options available nowadays with all the advancement in technology. It’s sometimes hard to choose the best option for yourself, but luckily that’s why we have dentists. If you see the right one, they will do a wonderful job with not just fixing your loose teeth but also helping you to have the optimum oral health possible.
If you have any questions or complaints please leave a comment below and we will sort it out for you 🙂