Loose teeth are the result of chronic gum disease, gum recession and bone loss. As plaque and bacteria invade the area around the teeth, it destroys the attachment between the teeth and the surrounding support structures. Once gum disease becomes active and remains untreated, teeth become mobile. If mobility is severe enough it ultimately results in loss of teeth.
What causes loose teeth? Loose teeth are caused by the presence of bacteria and periodontal disease under the gums around the teeth. As the disease worsens, the gum pockets deepen due to loss of attachment structure. The bacteria from gingivitis and gum disease cause the body to destroy bone and gum tissue around the teeth, which are meant to hold the teeth in place.
Signs And Symptoms
Loose teeth typically have other signs and symptoms associated with the condition. These include:
- Bleeding gums
- Sore gums
- Swollen, purple or red gums
- Bleeding during brushing or flossing
- Pus around the tooth
- Food packing between the teeth or under the gums
- Gum recession
Many of these symptoms accompany loose teeth and are typical of active, severe gum disease. It’s important to identify loose teeth as soon as possible so that treatment can be completed before it is too late.
Once it is discovered that you have loose teeth, there is usually severe periodontal disease with bone loss. When one tooth has this condition it also places adjacent teeth at increased risk, due to the teeth sharing the same bone structure between them. Loose teeth are usually not evident until periodontal disease has surpassed moderate disease levels and is currently in the severe state of the disease.
The progression of tooth mobility is based on the amount of bone loss associated with the tooth. Even a small amount of mobility means there is severe disease around the tooth. Neglecting this condition can allow the disease to progress rapidly, where the tooth is so loose that you cannot chew or apply any pressure to it, and it will eventually fall out. Loose teeth progress quickly as the bacterial plaque works its way deeper below the gums as the tooth moves back and forth. (1)
Dangers And Health Risks
Loose teeth are a sign that there are underlying health conditions. Periodontal disease causes loose teeth and is also associated with heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other systemic health conditions.
or more information on treating periodontal disease, see our article about periodontitis.
How To Prevent Loose Teeth
Preventing loose teeth is as simple as practicing good oral hygiene, eating healthy, and keeping other systemic disease conditions in check. A healthy lifestyle that involves a balanced diet and exercise can boost your immune system to help fight disease conditions.
A good daily oral hygiene program includes brushing, rinsing, and flossing. Be sure to avoid harsh chemical toothpastes and instead use toothpaste and mouthwash with pure, proven ingredients. This will help kill the bacteria that lead to periodontal problems.
Effective plaque removal on a daily basis can prevent loose teeth and gum disease. Brushing into the gumlines and flossing below the gums removes disease-harboring bacteria. Additional nutritional supplementation and essential oils can help gingivitis conditions. For more information on preventing loose teeth, see our section on treating Gingivitis.
Treatment for loose teeth often involves conventional therapies at the dental office. These treatments may include:
- Deep Cleanings (scaling and root planing)
- Locally-delivered antibiotic therapy
- Bone grafting
- Gingival grafting
- Extraction of loose teeth
- Tooth replacement of lost teeth with dental implants
Most treatments for loose teeth come at a great cost, with hundreds of dollars spent on deep cleanings, bone grafting and gum grafting in order to save a single tooth. Extractions are reserved for the most severely loose teeth, which then require tooth replacement with appliances such as dental implants, which can cost over a thousand dollars. Response to therapy is normally evident within the first year after treatment. (2) Teeth with mobility typically do not respond to treatment as well as teeth infected with periodontal disease that exhibit no mobility.
Effectively treating loose teeth alongside your dentist will also involve home remedies for loose teeth. These methods are the same as those used for Gum Disease and are the most important, while also being the most affordable remedies available.
Your Questions About Loose Teeth
My teeth feel loose. Is this normal?
No. Healthy teeth in an adult will never be loose. Very mild movement may be seen in younger children whose permanent tooth roots are still forming. If your teeth are noticeably loose and move more than a millimeter in any given direction then there is cause for alarm.
Why are my teeth loose?
Teeth become loose due to the destruction of attached bone and gum around the tooth. This happens because of gum infections like gum disease or periodontitis. Bacteria from the conditions cause the body to pull away from the diseased area, resulting in less stability around the tooth.
Can loose teeth be saved?
Depending on the severity of the loose tooth, it may or may not be able to be saved. Severely loose teeth usually result in loss of the tooth and possible harm to the adjacent teeth. Moderately loose teeth can be treated through home prevention methods and conventional therapy.
Can loose teeth be tightened?
Removing disease bacteria from around a tooth with gum disease can allow the gum tissue to tighten and even re-attach to the tooth, causing it to become slightly tighter once again.
At what point will my loose teeth be lost?
If your tooth sways easily side to side or becomes depressible, it is most likely beyond the point of repair. Treatment should be completed to remove the diseased tooth and remove any existing bacteria in the mouth to prevent the loss of additional teeth.
Can I just pull my loose tooth?
Pulling teeth should be the last possible option when it comes to dental care. Nothing is quite as good as your natural teeth, so teeth should be kept healthy and maintained when at all possible. Losing a tooth due to disease means you also have to consider tooth replacement options, due to the effect it will have on surrounding teeth and normal functions such as chewing.
- Boever, J.; Boever, A.; Occlusion And Periodontal Health.; Clinical Practice And The Occlusion. Sec.3 p.83-89.
- Fleszar, T.; Knowles, J.; Morrison, E.; Burgett, F.; Nissle, R.; Ramfjord, S.; Tooth Mobility And Periodontal Therapy.; Journal of Clinical Periodontology; 1980:7:495-505.