A loose tooth – a cause for concern?

Perhaps because a loose tooth when we were children was ultimately a source of a little treat being left under our pillows, some of us tend not to be concerned about any loose teeth. 

A loose tooth may not be a cause for concern, but it is always worth having it checked out by a dentist.

Sometimes, the supporting bone and tissue surrounding a tooth deteriorates, leaving space for the tooth to move.  Normal chewing can then loosen the tooth more, all the while allowing bacteria to get in under the gum, causing gum disease.  

Symptoms may include bleeding, swollen or red gums, as well as gum recession. 

A common cause of gum disease is not brushing and flossing regularly, as well as skipping dental hygiene appointments.  Tartar builds up from plaque, which carries bacteria and builds up underneath the gums.  This is treatable if it’s caught in time.  The infection can be cleared up and the health of the tooth and mouth restored.  If this doesn’t happen, the bone will deteriorate, meaning the tooth and perhaps others will not have the support they need.

If your dentist can measure that the space between your teeth and gums is more than 3 mm, an xray will be necessary to check for loss of bone.

Treatments which may be available:

  • Deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) to remove hardened plaque.
  • Antibiotics to clear up any infection.
  • Surgery:

Flap surgery to pull back the gum, which is then reattached after scaling and root planing.

Bone grafting, using bone from another part of your body to replace diseased bone and support the teeth properly.

Bonding – To join two teeth for better support.

Bite adjustment – to reshape the tooth’s surface by removing tiny amounts of enamel.  (Most suitable if the cause is tooth grinding.)

Implants or bridges – Usually in the case of extremely loose teeth.

A mouth guard may be another solution for teeth grinding, worn whilst sleeping, so that the upper and lower teeth do not make contact. 

It is always advisable to contact your dentist if you have any concerns between routine appointments.  A little extra attention now could mean avoiding pain and inconvenience later.

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