A loose tooth is no big deal when you’re a kid. Some kids even welcome a wobbly tooth since it means a visit from the Tooth Fairy! But if you’re an adult, a loose tooth is more like a nightmare come true.
Loose teeth in adults can result from poor dental hygiene, advanced gum disease, a facial injury, teeth grinding, or even pregnancy. There’s a chance that a loose tooth will tighten back up, but it depends on the cause. It’s best to immediately consult your dentist if you’re an adult with a loose tooth.
Learn how to notice a loose tooth, what causes one, and how to fix a loose tooth.
What Does a Loose Tooth Feel Like?
Loose teeth lack structural support and are in the process of detaching from the bone and gum. You might notice that a tooth feels “off” and wiggly while brushing, flossing, or eating. Beyond the looseness, you may also experience bloody gums, swollen gums, and gum recession.
What Causes Loose Teeth in Adults?
Adult teeth should last a lifetime. If you have a loose tooth as an adult, there’s a clear reason.
Gum disease is the result of continuous poor dental hygiene. If you don’t brush, floss, and have routine cleanings, tartar and bacteria can build up under your gums and cause an infection — gum disease. Advanced gum disease can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth. Gum disease is treatable when caught early, and if your loose tooth is the result of gum disease, there’s a chance that it could tighten back up with treatment and better hygiene practices.
A fall or blow to the face is a common way for adult teeth to chip, break, or loosen. Also, grinding or clenching teeth can wear down the tissue to the point that teeth can become loose. If your loose tooth is the result of grinding or clenching, your dentist may be able to treat the issue with a special mouthguard before your teeth become permanently damaged.
During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels can affect the periodontium — the ligaments and bones in the mouth that support teeth and hold them in place. Teeth can feel loose when the periodontium is affected.
Fortunately, these changes will resolve on their own after pregnancy. Still, see your dentist if you experience loose teeth during pregnancy so you can rule out other triggers, like gum disease.
And remember — it’s safe to go to the dentist while pregnant! “Preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental treatments are safe throughout pregnancy,” notes the American Dental Association.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones in the body and makes it easier for them to break. Hip, spine, and wrist bones are affected most often by osteoporosis, but the disease can weaken any bone in the body.
“Research suggests a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw,” reports the National Institutes of Health. The bone in the jaw supports and anchors the teeth. When the jawbone becomes less dense, tooth loss can occur, a common occurrence in older adults.”
How to Fix an Adult Loose Tooth
Can a loose tooth be saved? Yes, but it depends on the reason the tooth is loose.
- If a tooth is loose because of gum disease, it might tighten back up with consistent and proper dental hygiene. A deep cleaning with a hygienist called Scaling & Root Planing is typically the best treatment option.
- If a tooth is loose because of an injury, it likely won’t tighten back up. Depending on the severity and type of damage to the tooth, your dentist may remove it and replace it with a dental implant or bridge.
- If a tooth is loose during pregnancy, it will tighten up after pregnancy has ended. Even so, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist if a tooth is wiggly during your pregnancy to confirm the cause.
- If a tooth is loose due to osteoporosis, you have a couple of treatment options. Regenerative bone and gum grafting can help rebuild the bone and tissue around the teeth. Once rebuilt, dental implants can be installed to strengthen and restore your smile. Composite bonding is another option for reshaping the teeth to hide gaps.
If you’re an adult, a loose tooth might be the first sign of a more significant issue that needs to be addressed. Make an appointment to have your loose tooth looked at today.