When you were a kid, having a loose tooth was really exciting. It meant you were growing up. And when your loose tooth finally fell out, it was cause for celebration — it meant the tooth fairy was on the way.
Now that you’re a grownup, however, a loose tooth is a cause for concern. In fact, you should see a dentist right away if a tooth becomes loose for any reason. That way, they can effectively diagnose your issue and find the treatment that’s right for you.
What Makes Teeth Come Loose
The condition of having a loose tooth is referred to by dentists as tooth mobility. When you visit your dentist, they’ll use their training and advanced diagnostic tools to get to the root of your problem.
Loose teeth are commonly a sign of one or more of the following issues:
If you’re an adult with one or more loose teeth, gum disease is the probable culprit. Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is a hazardous bacterial infection that can wreak havoc on your oral health.
The bacteria that cause gum disease feed on plaque and tartar that’s left behind on your teeth after eating, so the best way to prevent it is through daily brushing and flossing and by seeing your dentist twice a year for a checkup that includes a thorough professional cleaning.
If a patient’s gum disease continues to advance unabated, it can have devastating effects on their oral health, including:
- Red, swollen, and bleeding gums
- Chewing becomes painful
- Persistent bad breath
- Teeth no longer fit together when you bite down
- Pockets of infection develop around the base of teeth
- Teeth become loose
- Teeth begin to fall out
When left untreated, gum disease “affects not only your gums but also the ligaments and bone that surround and support your teeth.” That’s why having a loose tooth is a warning sign that you need to see your dentist as soon as possible.
If you’re currently living with missing teeth, it can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Dr. Roman Shlafer has been serving patients in the Farmington, MI area for over 30 years. He says that missing teeth are “the perfect breeding ground for bacteria” that can “spread through your gum tissue and result in infection.”
Many dentists such as Dr. Bernard Ang in Amherst recommend dental implants to replace a missing tooth because implants “play a critical role in helping maintain your oral health.”
Dental implants protect your oral health by preventing your remaining natural teeth from shifting position. This can irritate your gums, making them more susceptible to gum disease. Implants also stimulate essential jawbone growth, which is something that no other type of restoration can do.
Clenching refers to pressing the teeth together while tightening the jaw muscles. Grinding involves moving the jaw when teeth are held together. Bruxism occurs when the patient clenches or grinds their teeth, and this frequently happens at night while the patient sleeps.
Symptoms of bruxism include teeth that are loose, sensitive, worn down, chipped, or cracked. Bruxism can also result in headaches, earaches, and pain in the jaw, neck, or face.
Unfortunately, bruxism can “stretch the periodontal ligaments, which join the teeth to the supporting bone, with the result that the teeth become loose.” That’s why treating bruxism is essential for your oral health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, patients “who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing.” That’s why it’s a good idea to find a dentist such as Dr. Ang to treat your tooth mobility. Dr. Ang is a qualified sleep dentist who’s also well-versed in treating malocclusions.
Pregnancy and Osteoporosis
Pregnancy and osteoporosis are two issues that we commonly associate with women’s health, but men can also be affected by osteoporosis, a disease that reduces the strength and density of a patient’s bones. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, worldwide “1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged fifty years and over are at risk of an osteoporotic fracture.”
Because it weakens the bones in your jaw that support your teeth, osteoporosis can lead to tooth mobility and even the loss of teeth. The National Institute of Health reports that “women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those who do not have the disease.” In some cases, antiresorptive medications, which are used to treat osteoporosis, can result in osteonecrosis, a condition that can cause tooth mobility.
Pregnancy can also cause your teeth to become loose, but this is usually a temporary situation. That’s because pregnancy increases a women’s levels of progesterone and estrogen, two hormones that “can cause the ligaments and bone around your teeth to loosen” and this “results in tooth mobility.”
If you’re expecting a child, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist so they can monitor your the condition of your teeth and help you maintain outstanding oral health throughout your pregnancy.