Loose teeth are never welcome as an adult. As a child, you have the comfort of knowing that your tooth will regrow even if you knock them out with a trip and fall or another accident. Adults do not have this comfort because adult teeth do not regrow.
If you lose your tooth, you’ll need a bridge, dental surgical implants or a partial denture to smile again confidently.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss the common causes of loose teeth, what your teeth may feel like if they’re loose and what you can do if you have a loose tooth.
4 Common Causes of Loose Teeth in Adults
Tripping and hitting your tooth on the ground, an impact injury or even sports injuries can lead to loose teeth. We also have patients who didn’t sustain any noticeable injuries, but they grind their teeth at night or clench their jaws.
In all of these scenarios, your teeth can become loose.
Injuries always require an exam because we want to look for signs of the tooth being fractured, chipped or broken.
If you know that you grind your teeth and suspect that this is causing your teeth to loosen, we can fabricate a night guard for you that will stop further damage to the tooth. In this case, the teeth and gums will likely heal on their own and tighten back up.
2. Gum Disease
Over 47% of adults over the age of 30 have gum disease to some extent. Gum disease is often caused by patients who do not take care of their teeth. If you do not do any of the following, you may have gum disease:
- Brush your teeth
- Schedule routine cleanings
Routine dental cleanings are one of the most critical steps that you can take to fend off gum disease. A hygienist will clean bacteria and tartar that hides under the gums and can lead to gum disease.
In advanced stages, this disease can cause your gums to detach from the teeth, causing them to loosen.
If you have a mild or moderate form of gum disease, we may have time to save your loose tooth. Treatment and adhering to a proper dental hygiene routine can help the gums reattach to the tooth and tighten your loose teeth to healthy levels.
The best treatment option for someone with gum disease is Scaling and Root planning. While this sounds scary, this treatment is an advanced, deep cleaning that will attempt to clean off the bacteria and tartar that are hiding underneath your gums.
Osteoporosis is mostly a factor for people over 50, and it is a disease that weakens your bones. In fact, your bones can weaken to the point that they become injured or break with very minimal impact or a slight trip and fall.
While you may only experience bone weakening in your hips or ankles, there is a chance of suffering from jawbone loss.
The jaw is responsible for anchoring your teeth in place, and if density or strength is lost, it can lead to loosening teeth. Usually, osteoporosis is only a major factor in tooth loss for older adults.
We can run tests and examine your teeth and jaw to determine if this disease is contributing to or the main cause of your loose teeth.
Pregnancy takes a significant toll on the body. When you’re pregnant, your body will have to feed your fetus, which means you may receive fewer nutrients. However, there is also a change in the periodontium.
Periodontium consists of the bones and ligaments in your mouth that are responsible for keeping your teeth in place. During this time, your teeth may begin to feel loose as the structure responsible for keeping them in place is no longer doing its job.
But here’s the good news: most expecting moms will have their teeth tighten back up. Your teeth are likely to go back to normal after you give birth.
One misconception we hear in our office is that women don’t think it’s safe to go to the dentist while pregnant. It is safe to visit the dentist while pregnant. We even recommend that you visit us if you have loose teeth so that we can rule out things such as:
- Gum disease
What Does a Loose Tooth Feel Like?
A loose tooth may wiggle when you brush, floss or touch it with your finger. For some people, the loose tooth may feel like it's separating from the gum and surrounding bone. Additional signs of potentially loose teeth are:
- Receding gums
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
In the event that the tooth is very loose, it will be evident when you brush, floss or even eat. Severely loose teeth need to be treated immediately if there’s any hope of them tightening back up.
Do Loose Teeth Tighten Back Up?
Yes, they can, but it depends on why your teeth are loose. For example, if you have very advanced osteoporosis or sustain a severe injury to your mouth, there’s very little chance that your teeth will tighten back up on their own.
We may be able to save the tooth, but it will require some form of treatment. In the most severe cases, the tooth may need to be removed or fall out on its own.
If you have very mild gum disease or are pregnant, the odds of your tooth tightening back up increase greatly. You’ll need to brush your teeth twice per day, floss and schedule routine dental cleanings. In most cases, the tooth will tighten back to its original state if you take good care of your teeth.
What to Do if You Have a Loose Tooth
If you’re brushing your teeth or you feel like a tooth is suddenly loose, you want to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible. Your loose tooth may be nothing to worry about, or it may be the result of a more serious underlying issue.
We can’t know for sure why your tooth is loose.
However, if you’re pregnant, most women will have their loose teeth tighten back up. Sometimes, injuries to the tooth, such as being hit in the mouth with a ball, may also resolve on their own and tighten back up.
Treatments for Loose Teeth
If your teeth are loose, there may still be hope of saving them. A few of the most common treatment options include:
Antibacterial or Antiseptic Mouthwash
Dental infections can cause your teeth to loosen. We may recommend taking antibiotics and using an antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash. These mouthwashes will work to stop the infection and may help your gums heal.
However, this mouthwash is often used in conjunction with other treatment options on this list.
Surgery is often the last course of action we pursue when everything else has been unsuccessful. We may be able to remove any damaged bone that is supporting the tooth or gum tissue that has been damaged.
Gum tissue that is damaged will be removed and may grow back to help tighten your loose teeth.
However, even if the gum doesn’t heal on its own or is unlikely to heal, we can perform one of many surgical procedures:
- Bone grafts, which are used to reinforce your jawbone for implants if the normal bone has begun to deteriorate. This procedure will remove a small portion of bone from another area in the body and will reinforce the jawbone. Your body will naturally surround the area with calcium during the healing process.
- Flap surgery is another option and involves us pulling back your gum tissue so that we can perform a very advanced scaling and root planing. We then reattach the gums and allow them to heal.
- Soft tissue grafts are another option and will graft soft tissue to the area of your gum that has receded.
Dental appliances like mouthguards can help protect against bruxism and may tighten loose teeth. These appliances absorb all of the pressure so that you’re not grinding your teeth directly.
Additionally, mouthguards can protect your teeth while playing sports, which can prevent tooth loss or injury.
Scaling and Root Planing
If the loose tooth is caused by gum disease, then scaling and root planing may help. Scaling and planing is an in-depth cleaning procedure that’s often used to help reverse gum disease.
First, we’ll remove the tartar and plaque above and below your gumline. Then, we’ll move on to smoothing the roots of your teeth. Root planing can help your gums reattach to your teeth.
In some cases, this procedure requires more than one visit and may even require a local anesthetic.
Loose teeth can sometimes tighten back up on their own, but it ultimately depends on the cause of the loose tooth. A visit with the dentist is the only way to know for sure whether your loose tooth will tighten back up.
If you have a loose tooth, call our office. It’s always better to contact us and schedule an appointment to determine the root cause of your wiggly teeth and if the tooth will tighten back up on its own.