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Loose teeth in children are a typical part of their growth. But, if an adult has a loose tooth, it’s usually an indicator of a problem. Loose permanent teeth can signal:
Depending on the cause, pain, bleeding, or gum swelling may occur. It’s also possible to not have any symptoms.
In this article, we’ll explore these causes in more detail. We’ll also discuss some ways loose teeth can be treated.
Here are some common reasons you might have loose teeth as an adult:
Poor oral hygiene can eventually lead to advanced gum disease (periodontitis).1 This can weaken the periodontal ligament that holds the teeth in place, leading to attachment loss.1, 2
This loss of connective tissue is irreversible. However, you can treat gum disease and prevent it from worsening.
Many people with gum disease don’t know they have the condition. If you have multiple loose teeth, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
See your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any of the above symptoms. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, heart disease, and even death.3
A mouth injury can loosen teeth. Signs your loose teeth are the result of an injury include:
See your dentist if you have injured your teeth. They can stabilize loose teeth and strengthen the surrounding tissues with the proper treatment.
Similar to a one-time injury, bruxism can cause trauma to your teeth, causing them to loosen. Severe cases can also cause teeth to fracture or break.
Osteoporosis is a condition where a person’s bones are porous and brittle. As you age, you are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Genetics, nutrition, and lack of exercise can contribute to the condition.
If you have osteoporosis, your jawbone may be weakened, resulting in your teeth becoming loose and unsupported. 4, 5, 6
Calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D are essential for bone and dental health. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can cause low bone density and may contribute to loose teeth. 7-10
Your bones are largely made of calcium phosphate, so low calcium and phosphorus levels deprive your bones of necessary support. Low calcium can also make your teeth brittle.
Vitamin D helps your body use calcium and phosphorus. Lack of vitamin D can put your bones and teeth at risk of weakening.
Pregnant women have heightened levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. This can sometimes weaken the connective tissues holding their teeth in place.
If you’re pregnant and notice your teeth are somewhat loose, you likely do not have a severe issue. This typically goes away after pregnancy.
However, many women also experience pregnancy gingivitis due to hormonal changes. This is a reversible condition but stay mindful of oral hygiene during pregnancy.
If you notice one or more of your teeth are loose, contact your dentist as soon as possible. Ignoring a loose tooth is unlikely to improve the situation and may lead to tooth loss.
Your dentist will examine your mouth and note any symptoms. They’ll also ask you questions and may take X-rays or other scans.
Once they determine the cause of your loose teeth, your dentist will recommend treatment.
The underlying cause of loose teeth, as well as the severity and how many teeth are affected, will determine the type of treatment you need.
If your teeth are loose due to gum disease, your dentist will likely perform a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar.
Tartar, or calculus, is a significant contributor to gum disease, and once it accumulates, it can’t be fully removed with at-home brushing. Dentists have special tools that completely clean tartar away from teeth and gums.
Deep cleaning for gum disease can accompany flap surgery. This procedure removes damaged gum tissue. The dentist then attaches the remaining gum tissue in a better position to support teeth and reduce gum pockets.
Gum surgery can also include a graft of new gum tissue if you don’t have enough healthy gum tissue remaining. Your dentist can also graft bone tissue to support your teeth.
If you’ve lost bone tissue due to gum disease, you might need a bone graft to support your teeth. Like a gum graft, a bone graft involves placing new tissue to merge with the existing bone.
A dental splint is a piece of fiber or wire a dentist uses to link teeth together. It can keep loose teeth secure and prevent them from moving. Dentists often recommend dental splints in cases of gum disease or injury.10
A splint can hold a loose tooth from an injury in place, similar to how a cast holds a broken bone. Over several weeks, the surrounding tissues heal and strengthen, leading to splint removal.
Your dentist can slightly reshape a loose tooth by grinding away a small amount of enamel. This can reduce pressure from opposing teeth.
A mouthguard can hold your teeth in place and protect them from grinding. This may not undo existing damage to your teeth or connective tissues, but it can prevent it from worsening.
If a loose tooth is unsavable, it will need to be extracted. Other treatments aim to avoid extraction, but sometimes it is the only option left.
You can’t guarantee that you will never have a loose tooth. However, you can take steps to ensure your teeth, gums, and bones stay healthy and strong:
Loose teeth in adults generally demand professional attention. The causes of loose teeth, if left untreated, can lead to teeth, gum, and bone tissue loss.
Fortunately, various treatments exist to secure loose teeth and prevent further attachment loss. Whether they’re caused by trauma or disease, loose teeth can often be saved if treated early.
Inform your dentist as soon as possible if one or more of your teeth are loose. They can help you determine the underlying cause and the best treatment.
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