A loose tooth is a common complaint in the middle-aged and elderly population. The most important cause of this being periodontitis. This article emphasizes the causes, prevention, and treatment of loose tooth.
It is quite disturbing to have a loose tooth in your mouth which almost always hinders with your normal food habits and sometimes causes pain. The common cause for a loose tooth is periodontitis (infection of the supporting structures of the teeth), which arises from poor oral hygiene. A loose tooth could also result from an acute injury to the tooth and the supporting bone.
The biological reason for a loose tooth is the lack of support to the tooth from the bone underlying it. In the majority of the cases, the bone is resorbed due to infection. The treatment modalities for a loose tooth has to be decided based on the extent and severity of the mobility of tooth. However, extraction of teeth followed by replacement is to be done when the prognosis is hopeless like in the case of an extremely mobile tooth.
Common Causes of Loose Tooth
Your doctor may perform procedures like splinting (the loose tooth are stabilized by fixing them to the firm tooth) which is not a permanent solution. Splinting stabilizes the tooth and helps maintain the esthetics and function.
Up to a certain degree of mobility due to periodontal reasons could be treated using regenerative therapies in which the infected bone is removed (curettage) and a bone graft is placed. The bone graft later forms new bone which provides support to the teeth.
However, the most commonly performed treatment for a loose tooth is extraction and replacement with dental implants or a fixed or removable prosthesis.
A loose tooth is quite difficult to treat and bringing it back to its healthy and stable condition depends on plenty of factors including maintenance of hygiene and sometimes systemic health. Based on the cause and severity, your dentist may suggest one of the following treatments:
Preventive measures for loose tooth include:
There is absolutely no substitute for a healthy natural tooth. The replacement treatments like implants are effective and long-lasting, but before receiving any of them, confirm with your dentist if the tooth could be saved. If your dentist does not give you an option, ask for it.
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Calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 deficiency are directly linked to tooth health. Calcium deficiency causes weak bones that lead to inadequate bone support for the teeth and eventual loosening. Vitamin D deficiency leads to impaired calcium absorption. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to periodontitis (inflammation of the tooth-supporting structures), causing bone loss and gum recession.
Slightly loose permanent teeth due to sudden forceful impact will tighten up on their own if left undisturbed. Care has to be taken not to chew or bite using the affected tooth.
Loose teeth may or may not cause pain. In chronic or long-standing loose teeth, people usually experience reduced to null pain. However, moving the tooth in either direction with tongue or fingers beyond its range of motion causes pain.
Teeth indicated for removal must be removed professionally at a dentist’s office. Self-removal may cause complications like pain, bleeding, and infection. Some loose teeth can be tightened to some extent. Hence a dentist’s consultation may end you up with a saved tooth.
No glue can fix a loose tooth. However, several treatment options can fix loose teeth due to some causes to a certain extent.
Loose teeth usually do not fall out during sleep. A physical force is required to make it fall. But people usually tend to dream of loose teeth falling out. This may be due to teeth grinding during sleep.
A loose tooth may indicate an underlying periodontal disease, tooth fracture, non-vital tooth, diabetes, bone disorders, and nutritional deficiencies. Hence ignoring a loose tooth is not advisable. An immediate dental visit is necessitated.
Long-standing loose milk teeth exceeding their exfoliation period must be removed with a dentist’s help as they may hinder the eruption of their permanent counterpart or alter their pathway of eruption. In case of loose permanent teeth, they may interfere with chewing and cause difficulties while eating.
Loose teeth due to trauma can turn grayish over time. This indicates that the tooth is non-vital or dead due to interrupted blood supply.
Loose teeth due to injury (stretching of periodontal fibers that anchor the tooth in its socket) usually take a few weeks (up to three weeks) to tighten up with or without splinting based on their looseness. Loose teeth treated with flaps and bone grafting procedures take three to six or more months (based on the degree of bone loss) to tighten up.
Methods to increase the looseness of teeth for self-removal are not encouraged by dentists as they pose a risk of infection, bleeding, and pain. If a highly loose milk tooth is resistant to falling out, it can be wiggled (if no pain) periodically, or the child can be asked to bite on hard foods like apples.
If a loose milk tooth does not fall out even after a specific period, the child can manually wiggle with their tongue, or the parent can wiggle with their fingers without pain. The child can be asked to bite on an apple or crunchy hard foods. Still, it is better to have a dental consultation to review the condition.
Oral hygiene maintenance, professional scaling and root planing procedures to remove the deposits, flap and bone grafting surgeries to make new bone grow, splinting, and correcting nutritional deficiencies and systemic disorders help lessen or arrest further loosening and tighten up the teeth (in some cases).
Pain-relieving medications like Paracetamol and relieving the tooth from chewing reduce loose tooth pain. However, getting appropriate treatment yields a permanent solution.
There is no known temporary fixing solution for loose teeth; however, a dentist can use splints or wires and resins to fix loose teeth.
Based on the cause, health, and condition of the loose tooth, it is possible to save most cases of a loose tooth (with exceptions) at the dentist.
Periodontal surgeries or surgical procedures that stimulate the bone and gum growth through flaps and bone graft techniques and splinting or bonding the loose tooth with adjacent strong teeth with the help of resins and wires help retain a loose tooth. However, the possibilities of retention and prognosis will be examined to determine the treatment plan.
Last reviewed at:
10 Nov 2021 - 2 min read
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