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Updated on January 23, 2023
6 min read

Why Do My Teeth Feel Loose? What Should I Do?

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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:

  • Advanced gum disease
  • Trauma to the teeth or gums from an injury or teeth grinding
  • Low bone density
  • Dietary or hormonal issues

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.

6 Potential Reasons Why Your Teeth Feel Loose

Here are some common reasons you might have loose teeth as an adult:

1. Gum Disease

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:

  • Swollen, puffy, or tender gums
  • Gums that have visibly pulled away from your teeth
  • Red or purplish gum color
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Pain when chewing

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 

2. Injury

A mouth injury can loosen teeth. Signs your loose teeth are the result of an injury include:

  • Only one tooth or a few teeth are loose
  • You notice pain or bleeding in the area where teeth are loose
  • You don’t have any history or symptoms of gum disease or osteoporosis

See your dentist if you have injured your teeth. They can stabilize loose teeth and strengthen the surrounding tissues with the proper treatment.

3. Bruxism

Bruxism refers to the habit of grinding teeth, which may happen during the day or while asleep.

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.

4. Osteoporosis

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

5. Nutrient Deficiencies

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.

6. Pregnancy

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.

What to Do if Your Tooth is Loose

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.

Treatment Options for Loose Teeth 

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.

Deep Cleaning

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.

Gum Surgery

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.

Bone Grafting

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.

Splinting

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.

Tooth Reshaping

Your dentist can slightly reshape a loose tooth by grinding away a small amount of enamel. This can reduce pressure from opposing teeth.

Mouthguard

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.

Extraction

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.

Once your dentist pulls the tooth, they can replace it with one of several kinds of dental restorations. These include dental implants, bridges, and dentures.

Tips for Preventing Tooth Loss 

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:

  • Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily and properly
  • Maintain a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients, especially vitamin D and calcium
  • Regular exercise, especially resistance training, can improve bone density11
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, which can increase your risk of gum disease
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings
  • Wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth when participating in contact sports

Summary

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.

Last updated on January 23, 2023
11 Sources Cited
Last updated on January 23, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Dahlen, Gunnar, et al. "Current concepts and an alternative perspective on periodontal disease." BMC Oral Health, 2020.
  2. Robo, Ilma, et al. “Gingival recession and attachment loss: Cross-sectional and retrospective data of 10 years.” Journal of Advanced Periodontology & Implant Dentistry, 2021.
  3. Deraz, O et al. “Oral Condition and Incident Coronary Heart Disease: A Clustering Analysis.” Journal of dental research, 2022.
  4. Rezazadeh, Fahimeh, et al. “Relationship between Bone Mineral Density and Oral Health Status among Iranian Women.” International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2019.
  5. Kapoor, Nitin, et al. “Association between Dental Health and Osteoporosis: A Study in South Indian Postmenopausal Women.” Journal of Mid-Life Health, 2017.
  6. Darcey, J., et al. "Tooth loss and osteoporosis: to assess the association between osteoporosis status and tooth number." British Dental Journal, 2013.
  7. Krall, Elizabeth A., et al. “Calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce tooth loss in the elderly.” The American Journal of Medicine, 2001.
  8. Adegboye, Amanda R.A., et al. "Low Calcium Intake Is Related to Increased Risk of Tooth Loss in Men." The Journal of Nutrition, 2010.
  9. Heaney, Robert P. "Phosphorus Nutrition and the Treatment of Osteoporosis." Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2004.
  10. Kahler, B., et al. "Splinting of teeth following trauma: a review and a new splinting recommendation." Australian Dental Journal, 2016.
  11. Benedetti, Maria Grazia, et al. “The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients.” BioMed Research International, 2018.
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