Loose Adult Tooth: Causes and Expert Prevention Advice
How to fix a loose adult tooth
Having a loose tooth as a kid is exciting but as an adult it’s cause for concern. Healthy adult teeth shouldn’t move. Our adult teeth are permanent and should not fall out by themselves like baby teeth do. If you have a loose adult tooth, here’s what you should do.
How do I know if I have a loose adult tooth?
A loose tooth is any tooth that you can move with your finger or tongue or a tooth that moves when you bite or chew. Adult teeth shouldn’t feel wiggly or be able to move back and forth.
There are a few signs of a loose adult tooth. You may notice it move when brushing, flossing and eating or if you push your tongue against the tooth. You might also notice blood when you brush or floss and that the gums around the tooth look puffy and swollen. You may also experience gum recession where the gum line is shorter than other teeth.
What can cause a loose tooth in adults?
Since adult teeth don’t fall out by themselves, there’s usually an underlying cause of loose teeth.
Gum disease and periodontal disease are a major cause of tooth loss in New Zealand adults. Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that attacks the gums. It’s caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque which can also lead to cavities and decay. If you have gum disease, you‘ll likely also have bleeding gums, swollen gums or gum recession.
Sports injuries and falls are a common cause of tooth loss in adults. While there’s sometimes nothing you can do to prevent mouth trauma, wearing a mouth guard during sports can help prevent injuries to your teeth.
Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause teeth to wear down and loosen over time. Many people clench and grind their teeth at night without realising it. A night guard can prevent tooth grinding and protect your teeth as you sleep.
Pregnancy and menopause
Pregnancy is one of the only natural reasons your teeth may loosen as an adult. During pregnancy women experience calcium loss as the calcium found in teeth and bones is absorbed by the fetus. In menopause, women typically produce less estrogen which can lead to bone density loss.
Some medications like oral birth control, antidepressants and pain relief can come with side effects which increase the risk of dry mouth, cavities and tooth decay. Speak to your doctor first before you stop taking any medication.
When is a loose tooth an emergency?
An emergency dental appointment is any dental problem that needs immediate care. If you’ve noticed a loose tooth, schedule an exam with your dentist right away. If your tooth is at risk of falling out or feels painful schedule an emergency appointment. Other symptoms to look out for are:
- Sores on your tongue or lips
- Changes in the colour or swelling of the gums
- Darkened tooth enamel
- A numb tooth
- Headaches or persistent toothache
What treatment options are available for treating a loose adult tooth?
Treatment for a loose adult tooth will depend on the underlying cause.
Trauma: If your tooth is loose due to trauma, your dentist may bond the tooth to the surrounding teeth to help keep it secure until the bone heals, and gums tighten.
Gum disease: If the underlying cause of the loose tooth is gum disease, you need a deep cleaning to help manage the disease. During a deep clean a dental hygienist will remove plaque, tartar and any signs of infection from the gumline. You generally need ongoing treatment as gum disease needs to be regularly managed over time.
Receding gums: Receding gums can cause a tooth to come loose. Receding gums can also cause a pocket to form at the gum line. This pocket traps food and bacteria, making the problem even worse. Flap surgery can restore gums to their original position and create a firmer tooth.
How to prevent adult teeth from becoming loose
There are easy ways to lower your risk of developing loose teeth as you age.
Practice regular oral hygiene habits: Daily brushing and flossing is the best way to look after your teeth and prevent gum disease.
Use proper techniques: How you brush is just as important as regular brushing. Brushing for two minutes is the most effective way to thoroughly clean all sides of your teeth.
Visit your dentist regularly: An annual checkup and regular professional cleans can help you stay on top of tooth decay and remove plaque and bacteria from any hard-to-reach places.
Wear a mouthguard: Protect your teeth by wearing a mouthguard even if you play non-contact sports.
If you’re worried about a loose tooth, don’t just leave it in the hope it will get better. The team at Gentle Dental can help put you right. Book an appointment now.