It is always an exciting moment to see a child complain about a loose tooth, but once a person reaches adolescence, a loose tooth no longer presents as a regular occurrence.

A loose tooth in the mouth always hinders with your food habits, speech and is often the cause of pain and discomfort in the mouth.

Different oral health conditions cause loose teeth. Periodontitis, in simple terms lack of support to the tooth from the gums and underlying bone, is the biological reason for a loose tooth.

Some causes are harmless; others might require the care of a dental professional.

Treatment modalities depend on the extent and severity of the damage caused to the bone and the gums supporting the tooth.

Let us dive into the article and learn in detail about the causes of a loose tooth in adults and different treatment options available.

What do you mean by a loose tooth?

Loosening of teeth is caused by a disease of the periodontium which includes the tissues surrounding the teeth. These tissues are the gingiva, the underlying bone and fibrous attachments that hold them together.

Some amount of tooth mobility is natural, as the teeth are fixed to the bony socket with the help of fibrous attachments. This mobility can be felt during the time of clenching. However, this condition becomes worse when the tooth is visibly mobile.

What are the clinical signs of a loose tooth?

  • Pain
  • Discomfort while biting or chewing
  • Redness around the gums
  • Swelling and damage of gums around the affected tooth
  • Visible mobility of the tooth

What causes a Permanent tooth to loosen?

Injury to the mouth

An accidental fall, an elbow to the face during a game, an incident that had a forceful impact on your face can easily cause trauma to the oral tissues and lead to loosening of a tooth.

Most of the times, the gums heal and strengthen the bond around the loose tooth. But in other cases, if left untreated, gum disease can progress to worsen the condition.

Gum Disease

Periodontitis, better known as gum disease, is perhaps the most common cause of a loose tooth. Bacteria and plaque buildup under the gum line deteriorates the tissue and the bone, which can cause the tooth to loosen.

Often it leads to the formation of pockets in the gums that trap even more bacteria, thus hastening the loosening process.

An oral health study done on a population in Brazil revealed that 84 individuals lost 38% of their teeth from periodontal progression. (1)

Pregnancy

The increased amounts of estrogen and progesterone produced during pregnancy can have an adverse effect on the gums and bones holding a woman’s teeth in place.

Usually, this effect is temporary, and the tooth gradually tightens after delivery. However, if the mother already has gum disease, the hormone surge can make this situation worse.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a medical condition which affects the bones in the body and makes them weak and less dense. The disease is commonly seen in women of age 50 and older. The bones in the mouth aren’t immune to the adverse effects of osteoporosis.

When osteoporosis combines with gum disease that’s already present, it causes the bone to recede making the tooth loose and eventually leading to loss of a tooth.

Medications

Some medications that help other ailments can result in a loose tooth. For example, acid reflux medicines and prescribed steroids can lead to calcium deficiencies. Other drugs can lead to dry mouth, increasing the risk of gum disease.

Clenching/ Grinding

Grinding the teeth is damaging. It causes loss of enamel.  The pressure applied unintentionally by clenching teeth can result in loosening of teeth. This problem if left untreated worsen over time.

Treatment Modalities for a loose tooth

Treatment depends on the condition, the extent and the severity of the damage. It is essential to treat the underlying cause of tooth loss and take all the measures to prevent further damage. Let us look at the range of treatment options available:

Scaling and root planning

This is a procedure of cleaning the plaque and reducing the inflammation of the gingiva and periodontium. Often this procedure helps to reverse gum disease.

Medications and mouth rinses

These can help infected gums to heal and fight the bacteria in the mouth.

Surgery

 The aim of performing surgery is primarily to remove the inflamed gingiva and bone that has been damaged by periodontitis or injury to the gums.

To treat this an incision is made in the gingival tissue, and the gums are pulled back to perform scaling and root planning. Gums are reattached after the procedure.

Bone Grafts

These help to rebuild the lost bone during bone deterioration. Fragments of bone from another area of the body or a special bone grafting material are used to repair diseased bone in the mouth.

Tissue Grafts

 Tissue grafts or gum grafts can prevent further loss of gum or tooth case of gum disease.

Dental appliances like mouth guards or bite splints

 Bite splints realign the bite surface of the tooth reducing pressure on the tooth and allowing it to heal. 

Mouth guard or night guard is usually worn while sleeping. They act as a barrier between the upper and lower teeth and protect them from the biting force.

If severe cases a dentist can often restore the smile with:

Dental bridge

The is a unit which acts as a bridge between two healthy teeth, connected by a prosthetic, or artificial, tooth in the place of the one that is missing.

Dental implant

 It is an artificial tooth and root connected to the jawbone.

How to prevent loosening of teeth?

A good oral hygiene practice and maintaining a balanced diet will help you eliminate the problem of having a loose tooth.

Nothing can substitute a healthy tooth, and it is our responsibility to take the appropriate preventive measures to save our tooth.

A recent study done on old age group stated that lack of education and presence of periodontal condition contributed to teeth loss by about 23%. (2)

Did you get your teeth checked yet?

If you notice specific changes like bleeding gums, pain or discomfort while chewing, don’t dismiss it. Consult your dentist and ask him to guide you thoroughly about oral hygiene habits.

It is always better to prevent the condition before it even starts. A small problem of tooth movement can have an adverse effect on your entire oral health.

Follow your dentist’s advice to save your energy, time and money. Be wise and stay healthy.

Loosening of teeth is caused by a disease of the periodontium which includes the tissues surrounding the teeth. These tissues are the gingiva, the underlying bone and fibrous attachments that hold them together.