Loose teeth in children are a positive occurrence because it means their mouths are growing properly. In adults, loose teeth are a negative occurrence. As adults, we hope that our teeth never become loose – but if they do, there are things you can do to keep your oral health from deteriorating even further.
What happens to make our teeth loose?
Tooth loss during adulthood can be caused by gum disease, trauma and a number of other issues.
- Periodontal disease:
This is a gum disease that causes excess bacteria to grow in the mouth around the gum line and tooth socket. This bacteria, in the form of plaque and tartar, leads to infections that weaken the teeth leaving them loose.
This disease causes the bones to weaken and lose their density. With a lack of bone support, the teeth can become loose.
The influx of hormones that take over the body during pregnancy can lead to loose teeth. This usually clears up after childbirth when the hormones return to their normal levels.
- Occlusal trauma:
There are two types of occlusal trauma: primary and secondary. Primary occlusal trauma occurs when your teeth experience a prolonged excessive force from biting that is beyond what they can tolerate. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are usually the culprits behind primary occlusal trauma. On the other hand, secondary occlusal trauma is the result of the teeth being unable to handle the stress of biting even though they are within the normal range (re: your teeth are aligned properly) due to gum tissue detachment and degraded bone support.
Injury to the head or jaw caused by playing contact sports or a fall, can lead to loose teeth. When we are hit in the mouth, head or jaw, our teeth can get knocked out of place. Even the slightest impact can lead to loose teeth.
How are loose teeth treated?
The moment you notice that your teeth have become loose, it’s time to make a dentist appointment. With a comprehensive dental examination, your dentist will be able to notice if there is bone loss, periodontal disease or instances of trauma caused by an injury or teeth grinding.
There are different treatments available for loose teeth. The severity of the tooth (or teeth) will determine which treatment you need.
A small flexible splint is placed around the loose tooth to keep it from moving. Your dentist will attach the splint to your teeth with dental cement. The splint remains in place for about two weeks or until the ligaments and tissues have healed and the tooth is immobile.
A mouthguard is a dental appliance worn at night to curb teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Your dentist will take a mold of your mouth to create the guard so that it fits perfectly. Mouthguards are usually made of breathable thermoplastics and are available at your local drug store. However, the over-the-counter mouthguards are less effective than one that your dentist has created specifically to fit the contours of your mouth. When loose teeth are involved, avoid using an over-the-counter guard.
- Deep cleaning:
Loose teeth due to gum disease can be treated with deep cleaning. Your dentist will use a technique called scaling and root planing. This involves removing the plaque and bacteria from the exposed surfaces of the tooth’s roots. Once the debris is removed, the surfaces are smoothed. You may require several deep cleaning treatments to stop your teeth from being loose. Usually, antibiotics are coupled with deep cleaning treatments to fight infection. Your dentist can also fill the periodontal pockets (the area around the tooth where the bacteria lives) can also be filled with medication to reduce their size.
In severe cases, a loose tooth will need to be extracted. Your dentist will use sophisticated extraction techniques to ensure that the gums and surrounding teeth are not affected. Extracted teeth are replaced with dental implants that look exactly like real teeth.
What to do in the meantime
While you wait for your dental appointment, it’s important that you take care of your loose tooth. Eat soft foods so as to not aggravate the tooth with excessive chewing and mouth movements. Stay away from sticky foods and foods that are crunchy that can get stuck between your teeth. You should also keep up with your regular oral hygiene routine and brush and floss as you normally would. But, be careful flossing around the loose tooth and rinse your mouth gently to clear away bacteria and food particles after every meal. Finally, do not try and move the loose tooth with your finger or tongue. This will increase the risk of infection, lead to bleeding and the root or piece of the tooth breaking off into the socket.
If you’ve noticed that one or more of your teeth have come loose, contact Dawson Dental immediately. Loose teeth can lead to dangerous oral health problems.