Experiencing your first loose tooth is a right of passage for children. Each primary tooth will fall out and be replaced with a permanent tooth. But as an adult, tooth mobility can definitely cause concern. If you notice that your teeth seem a bit loose, here’s what could be happening.
- Periodontal disease: Untreated gingivitis can advance and become periodontitis, which can eventually cause loose teeth and tooth loss. How? Periodontal disease affects not only the gums but also the tissues and bones that support the teeth. Gums will separate from the teeth, forming pockets between the teeth and gums that become infected. As your periodontitis progresses, the pockets deepen, destroying more gum tissue and bone along the way and eventually causing loose teeth. However, there's some good news: if you pay close attention to your mouth, you can catch the early symptoms of gum disease before it causes loose teeth. And if you do end up with advanced periodontitis, many non-surgical and surgical treatments are available to you, including deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), pocket reduction surgery, soft tissue grafts, and bone grafting.
- Pregnancy gingivitis: If you’re pregnant, your mouth can be affected by hormonal changes. Pregnancy gingivitis is an example of this. If you experience inflammation of the gums, or if your gums bleed when you brush or floss, it’s important to consult with your dentist. If left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can result in periodontitis and, eventually, loose teeth.
- Osteoporosis: The part of the jawbone that supports the teeth is known as the alveolar process. An onset of osteoporosis can cause bone loss in the jaw, and studies show a link between a loss of alveolar bone and an increase in tooth mobility. The National Institutes of Health notes that women with osteoporosis are three times as likely to experience tooth mobility and tooth loss than those who don’t share the disease. You should consult with your dentist or primary care physician if you experience loose teeth. However, if your tooth mobility symptoms are linked to osteoporosis, and you are receiving treatment for it, the ADA recommends that you tell your dentist about any medications you take. Antiresorptive medications can interfere with certain dental treatments and lead to a rare but serious condition called osteonecrosis, which causes loose teeth.
- Trauma: The ligaments and tissues that hold your teeth firmly in their sockets can become stretched if you experience an accident or any trauma that extends force to your mouth. This could result in your tooth loosening. For example, loosening can occur from getting hit in your face with a ball. Regularly grinding your teeth can also cause a similar problem. Consider an injury like this to be a dental emergency, and immediately make an appointment with your dentist.
No matter what causes your loose teeth, you’re bound to be worried. But remember, having loose teeth doesn’t mean you have to lose your teeth. As soon as you notice any sign of a tooth or teeth loosening, seek dental care immediately. Your dentist will help you find an effective treatment plan that can save your teeth.