Most adults have fond memories of losing teeth as children and leaving them under their pillows for the tooth fairy. An adult loose tooth is a different story, however. Adult teeth are not supposed to wiggle, so if you notice looseness, you should be concerned. What causes loose teeth, and what should you do if you have one?
What Causes a Tooth To Loosen?
Teeth have two kinds of support that keep them firm and upright: bone and gums. Both of these need to be in good condition. Often a loose tooth results from an accident or physical trauma to the mouth. If this is the case, you should see your dentist, but the cause is obvious.
Many adults have gum disease as a result of poor oral hygiene. They don’t brush their teeth enough or floss regularly, and the result is the buildup of plaque and tartar. Tartar buildup underneath the gums causes inflammation that is visible. If you see swollen gums, gums that are red and bleeding, or receding gums, that is a sign of bacterial infection. As gum disease progresses, it leads to gaps in between the gums and teeth as well as bone deterioration. Those two problems cause teeth to become loose. The good news is: it is possible to reverse gum disease if it’s addressed early enough.
If you have a loose tooth, you may notice it when you’re brushing your teeth or when you’re eating. Chewing can make this problem worse as it causes the tooth to wiggle in its socket. When you experience this, you need to let your dentist know right away. If you do not, the result could be tooth loss – perhaps of more than one tooth.
Your dentist can measure your pocket depth – the space between your teeth and gums – with a dental probe. Dental x-rays can also show if there is bone loss. This will provide the information necessary to decide on a proper treatment.
Treatments for a Loose Tooth
One type of treatment is a tooth splint. Your dentist can apply a stabilizer to your tooth to attach it to the stronger teeth around it. This treatment works if the problem is the weakened ligaments. It will give them time to heal and strengthen.
Another kind of treatment is used if the tooth is loose because of teeth grinding. If this is the case, your dentist will have you wear a night guard at night to stop you from grinding your teeth. This takes strain off of your teeth, your gums, and your jaw and should result in improvement within a few weeks.
A longer treatment would be to address the gum disease with a deep cleaning to remove tartar and infected tissue.
In some cases, there is no treatment except for tooth removal and replacement with a dental bridge or a dental implant. If the gum disease is too advanced, it may not be possible to save the loose tooth, but addressing the gum disease may save other teeth from the same fate.
If you are living in the West Michigan area and are looking for a Grand Rapids dentist to talk to about your loose tooth problem, call us at Dental Associates of West Michigan. We will be happy to schedule an appointment with you and help you get the treatment you need right away.