We all remember the joy and excitement of losing our first baby teeth. But there’s no tooth fairy when permanent teeth become loose, and in many cases a loose adult tooth is cause for alarm-whether you’re a young person injured during a sports event or an adult with periodontal disease. Don’t panic, having a loose tooth doesn’t necessarily mean losing a tooth. But you do need to see your dentist as soon as possible. Don’t put off a visit until your next regularly scheduled checkup. The longer you wait, the worse things are likely to get, and if you act quickly, your dentist will have more options for saving the tooth.
What Makes a Tooth Become Loose?
When a tooth becomes loose, the periodontal ligaments (tiny bands around the root of the tooth) can be stretched, which can make a tooth feel loose. The good news is that your gums can heal up to a certain point. But it’s unlikely that they’ll heal on their own, and the amount of help they need to do this depends on the situation. Some of the main causes of loose permanent teeth are periodontal disease, tooth decay or abscess and impact or trauma (this could involve a sports injury, an accident or even biting something hard). Habitually grinding or clenching your teeth, during the day or at night, can also cause teeth to become loose.
A Loose Tooth as a Result of Periodontal Disease
In the case of periodontal disease, bacteria can accumulate, leading to an infection that can damage the roots of tooth. Getting treatment for periodontal disease can help make the tooth feel less loose. A thorough cleaning or root debridement (removal of plaque using ultrasonic or hand tools) can remove plaque beneath the gum line and help create a more solid base for your tooth. (In some cases a series of cleanings will be required). If you think your tooth may be loose because of periodontal disease, see your dentist as soon as possible for x-rays and other tests. Tooth decay or an abscess can also be a cause of loose teeth, when bacteria damage your tooth’s inner structure. In the case of an infection related to periodontal disease or an abscess, a course of oral antibiotics may be required.
In some cases of periodontal disease, as well as in cases of injury, the dentist can put a temporary or permanent splint in place to keep the tooth stable. The splint (usually a type of resin) bonds the loose tooth to healthy teeth to make it more stable. In some cases, a temporary splint can give the ligaments time to heal and tighten up, while in others a permanent splint may be required. A night guard can also help nighttime grinding or clenching is the problem.
See Your Dentist As Soon As Possible
Whether a tooth becomes loose because of periodontal disease or injury, be sure to make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. While waiting to see the dentist, make sure to use a soft bristled toothbrush and gargle with a gentle, antiseptic mouth rinse. Eat foods high in calcium and avoid soft drinks—even sugar free sodas are high in acid that can damage teeth.
We all want our adult teeth to be truly permanent. In some cases, the damage may be beyond repair and the loose tooth will need to be extracted. In this case, you will be given a dental implant or bridge to replace the missing tooth, which will help keep neighboring teeth healthy. But in many cases a loose permanent tooth is not cause for alarm. Your dentist has more options than ever for saving loose teeth and reversing or halting damage caused by gum disease. The important thing is to get into the dentist’s chair as quickly as possible so that all options for saving the tooth can be explored.
If you need a loose tooth repaired, or are in need of any other dental services, Greenhill Family Dental Care is here to assist you! Call us today to book an appointment, or to answer any additional questions you may have. We look forward to helping you.