When you’re a kid, a loose tooth is a cause for celebration. When you’re an adult, not so much. Instead, a loose permanent tooth can cause alarm. It may be the result of an injury or a possible sign of gum disease. The good news is that your dentist can often save loose permanent teeth with the right intervention. Early action generally means positive outcomes, so don’t wait to get it checked out.
Is a Loose Permanent Tooth an Emergency?
You should see your dentist immediately if you have a loose permanent tooth. That said, it may not be a full-blown dental emergency. Sometimes your tooth will tighten on its own (often the case with mild injuries in people with healthy teeth and gums). However, in other situations, you’ll need treatment from your dentist.
How Loose Is Too Loose for Permanent Teeth?
If your tooth is loose (no matter how loose), make an appointment with your family dentist as a first step. He’ll evaluate the situation and let you know whether your tooth can heal on its own or whether it needs treatment.
What Causes Loose Teeth In Adults?
When the gums, ligaments, and bone anchoring your teeth to your jaw are damaged, your teeth can become loose. Several factors can lead to loose teeth in adults:
- Gum disease is the leading cause of loose teeth and tooth loss in adults. Periodontal disease weakens the gum tissue that holds your teeth in place. Treating a loose tooth related to gum disease generally requires a complete treatment plan to tackle the root causes.
- Injury or trauma, including falls, car accidents or sports injuries, can cause loose teeth. Mild damage may heal independently, while more severe trauma to ligaments or other tissues may require surgery or other interventions.
- Pregnancy brings changes in hormone levels that can affect gum health. Pregnancy-related oral health issues usually resolve themselves. However, pregnant patients should still see their dentist for a loose tooth in case of underlying oral health problems.
- Osteoporosis: Age-related bone loss can weaken the jaw bone and cause teeth to become loose. In this case, treatment with medications is often the best approach. Your doctor and dentist can work together on a comprehensive treatment plan.
- Grinding and clenching can cause gum tissue to deteriorate and lead to loose teeth. Your dentist may recommend a night guard in addition to other interventions.
How Can My Dentist Save a Loose Tooth?
Sometimes your dentist needs to extract a loose tooth, especially when gum disease is involved. However, your dentist has excellent treatment options to save and stabilize your tooth.
- Antibiotics and antibacterial mouth rinses can treat gum disease and serve as a first step in creating a solid foundation that will allow your tooth to reattach to the gums.
- Your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing. In this case, your dentist removes plaque and tartar with a periodontal scaler and then smoothes the root surfaces (planing). This deep cleaning helps eliminate bacteria below the gum line, allowing your tooth to reattach to the gums.
- Splinting: your dentist saves your loose tooth by attaching it to healthy teeth using a composite material and thin wire.
- Flap surgery: your dentist temporarily pulls your gums away from your teeth. This allows him to work on the roots and bone, removing damaged tissue and scaling and root planing as needed. Once completed, your dentist replaces and stitches the gum tissue.
- In cases of severe gum disease, your dentist may recommend more complex surgical treatments. Options include soft tissue grafting to rebuild gum tissue and bone grafting to repair bone loss in your jaw caused by gum disease. Grafting involves transplanting soft tissue from elsewhere in your mouth into your gums or transplanting natural or synthetic bone into your jaw. Grafting can also be necessary if your dentist recommends dental implants to replace lost, damaged, or loose teeth.
Loose Permanent Tooth? Your Family Dentist Can Help
If your tooth wiggles even a little, see your dentist. The sooner you get in the chair, the better your chances of a successful repair. Dr. Robert Hall of Hall Family Dentistry has extensive experience in periodontal treatment, including scaling and root planing. While some challenging situations may require referral to a periodontist or oral surgeon, your family dentist is the best place to start. And remember, the best way to prevent gum disease and tooth loss is with regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene. As always, your family dentist is your first line of defense.