Why Is My Tooth Loose?
For a child, a loose tooth is a reason for excitement. For adults, a loose tooth is a reason to seriously panic. Healthy adult teeth should never have any kind of mobility so if you’ve noticed your teeth wiggling around a little, there is definitely something wrong. We’ve gone over what dentists do to fix loose teeth in a past blog post, but we had a lot of patients asking how they can prevent dental mobility from happening in the first place. There are two main reasons adult teeth become loose: periodontal disease and trauma.
Gum disease and loose teeth
Periodontal disease truly is the silent killer when it comes to ruining people’s smiles. The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which causes bleeding, puffy gums. You can easily treat gingivitis by brushing and flossing regularly or coming in for professional scaling. Because gingivitis isn’t painful, many people don’t see a reason to fix it. When neglected, gingivitis gradually becomes periodontal disease, a.k.a. gum disease. Bacteria gets underneath the gums, creating infection and encouraging the gums to life away from the teeth. This is called gum recession. We can fix mild gum recession with gum grafting, which is where we cover the exposed root of the tooth with either tissue from the roof of the patient’s mouth or a lab-created acellular dermal matrix. Gum grafts — and good oral hygiene afterwards — is the best way to treat late-stage periodontal disease.
If someone who has severe periodontal disease chooses not to get gum grafting, their teeth will become looser and looser. Both the gums and the bone beneath the gums will begin to deteriorate. Without them, the teeth are unable to stay in place. This is when patients will start to see dental mobility and, in very severe cases, tooth loss.
Do you wear clear aligners?
If you have periodontal disease and you begin wearing at-home clear aligners (Byte, SmileDirectClub, etc.), you may see some dental mobility. This mobility is not temporary and your teeth will not go back to the way they were after you’re done with treatment. It is never normal to see dental mobility — even with clear aligners. This is why we strongly recommend our patients use Invisalign instead of at-home aligner brands. With Invisalign, the dentist will give you an exam prior to treatment to make sure you are gum disease-free.
How do you prevent gum disease?
Keeping your mouth healthy is very easy: brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit the dentist every six months. If you’re struggling with keeping periodontal disease at bay, try this toothpaste and ask your dentist about coming in every four months instead of every six. Some people are naturally predisposed to having a harder time with oral hygiene so if that’s you, make sure to speak up and talk to your dentist about your options. If you don’t, you risk losing teeth later in life.
Trauma and loose teeth
The significantly rarer cause of loose teeth is trauma. Occasionally we’ll get patients who’ve suffered a traumatic accident that left them with lost or loose teeth. Sometimes we’re able to keep those loose teeth but more often than not, we’re forced to remove and replace them using dental implants.
An injury to the mouth can cause significant damage to the gums and jaw bone. In these cases, rehabilitation is possible but difficult. The sooner you get to the dentist, the higher the likelihood of a successful rehabilitation.