Written By Sharon Boyd, RDH, BS. | Reviewed by Lara T. Coseo, DDS
Definition of Loose Teeth
Causes for Loose Teeth
What causes loose teeth? Loose teeth are caused by the presence of germs and periodontal disease under the gums around the teeth. As the disease worsens, the gum pockets deepen due to loss of attachment structure. The germs 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 of Loose Teeth
- 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. Here are some great ways to fight and treat gum disease.
Progression of Loose Teeth
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 germ plaque works its way deeper below the gums as the tooth moves back and forth. (1)
Dangers And Health Risks of Loose Teeth
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. For 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 toothpaste and instead use toothpaste and mouthwash with pure, proven ingredients. This will help kill the germs 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 germs. Additional nutritional supplementation and essential oils can help gingivitis conditions.
For more information on preventing loose teeth, see our section on treating Gingivitis. Here's 6 Things To Know About Loose Teeth.
Treatments for Loose Teeth
- 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 TeethMy 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. Germs 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.
I have a loose gum around my tooth how do I fix it? Removing disease germs 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 moves up and down in a vertical direction, it is most likely beyond the point of repair. Treatment should be completed to remove the diseased tooth and remove any existing germs 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.
Why do we lose teeth? Aside from losing your baby teeth, permanent teeth can fall out because of gum disease, traumatic injuries, and infections (such as abscesses).
What age do you lose teeth? The last baby tooth usually falls out during middle school. It’s not normal for adult teeth to eventually fall out. However, somewhere around 1/4 of people over the age of 65 wear dentures because they no longer have their real teeth.
What do loose teeth feel like? Usually the first thing you’ll notice is some soreness when you bite down. If you press on the tooth, the gums might feel tender. You’re actually feeling the tiny ligaments around your root stretching and pulling because of the added mobility.
What do they loose teeth look like? Loose teeth tend to start drifting out of alignment. They might look crooked, gapped, or just out of place. The gums around them will likely start to recede, or exhibit symptoms of gum disease.
Why are my teeth loose? Teeth get loose because the tissues around them are starting to deteriorate. If you have gum disease, the bone around the root will start to shrink away. At a certain point, there’s nothing left to support your tooth. It’s like putting a fence post into a shallow hole, instead of a deep one.
Why do I have two loose teeth? When you lose bone around a tooth because of gum disease it means the bony structure between it and the adjacent tooth is shrinking away. As a result, tooth mobility becomes a chain reaction throughout your entire mouth.
Why are my front teeth loose? Loose front teeth are usually from traumatic injuries or heavy tartar under the gums, which in turn causes gum disease and bone loss.
Are loose teeth normal with Invisalign? With Invisalign, your teeth are gently pushed into a new position. Yet the movement is slow enough that it isn’t very noticeable. You shouldn’t have obvious loose teeth, or attempt to wiggle your tooth.
How loose will teeth get with Invisalign? The bone remodeling that occurs on your tooth is a slow and systematic process that doesn’t exceed more than fractions of a millimeter from one Invisalign tray to the next.
Are loose teeth normal with braces? As with Invisalign, you might see some very minor tooth movement during orthodontic therapy. However, braces move your teeth in larger increments between appointments. So, if you do see a loose tooth, let your orthodontist know. Do not attempt to wiggle it.
Do teeth get loose after braces? When your orthodontist takes your braces off, it’s normal for your teeth to want to keep shifting back to where they came from. It’s important to wear a retainer to prevent unwanted tooth movement and relapse.
Do braces help loose teeth? Straightening your teeth can help lower your chances of gum disease. Braces can also help stabilize teeth that may have suffered a traumatic injury and be at risk of coming loose.
How do you stabilize a loose tooth? If the tooth is loose because of disease, it usually needs to be extracted before the infection spreads. If it’s the result of trauma, your dentist will need to splint it to an adjacent tooth to help it stabilize and hopefully heal.
How do adults fix loose teeth? Removing the germs around teeth with gum disease is the first step to tightening the gingiva around them. You may need your dentist to perform a deep cleaning to reach what’s deep under the tissues.
How loose should my teeth be? Teeth shouldn’t ever be loose. However, it’s natural for a small amount of flex to exist because of the tiny ligaments that hold your tooth in place. That being said, the movement is so limited you won’t be able to see it.
Are slightly loose teeth okay? The ligaments around your teeth can get bruised, like when there’s an injury. In those situations, movement might be normal. But otherwise it is not ok or normal for teeth to be slightly loose.
Are loose teeth supposed to hurt? Not necessarily. If your teeth hurt when you bite on them, you need to see your dentist.
Why do loose teeth hurt? Loose teeth can be sore because of gum disease or trauma to the gums/bone around them. Eventually they might not hurt at all, but still be very loose!
Does removing loose teeth hurt? Extracting a loose tooth is usually simple and straightforward. A small amount of local anesthetic will numb the area around it so that nothing hurts.
Do loose teeth bleed? Usually, yes. There are tiny blood vessels that feed the areas around your teeth. If you have gum disease, there will be more bleeding than normal. People who smoke may not see much bleeding, if any at all.
Do loose teeth turn black? A tooth with a dying nerve may gradually start to darken. At the same time, the root can start to shrink away, and the tooth becomes loose. This situation usually happens weeks to years after a traumatic injury.
Can loose teeth cause a fever? Aggressive infections of any sort can lead to systemic health issues, including symptoms of fever.
Do loose teeth give you headaches? The throbbing pain or soreness caused by loose teeth may radiate into other parts of your face. If you tend to clench your jaw because of the stress, it can also lead to headaches.
Does gingivitis cause loose teeth? Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease; advanced gum disease causes tooth mobility and loss. It’s important to reverse gingivitis as quickly as possible with good home care.
Can loose teeth from periodontal disease be fixed? In some situations, dentists or periodontists can place a bone graft next to a tooth to help regain a portion of its support. Otherwise, severely mobile teeth are extracted.
Can a loose tooth be saved? It depends. If it’s from trauma, then possibly. But if you have aggressive periodontitis, the mobility usually can’t be reversed.
Can loose teeth heal on their own? Not if the loose tooth has periodontal infections or an abscess. You will need to seek out professional treatment from your dentist.
Will loose teeth go back to normal? If the mobility is slight, then it’s possible to maintain or improve the situation. Severe tooth mobility usually can’t be reversed.
Will loose teeth tighten up? If you’re treating active gum disease, the end goal is to help the tissues around your tooth to tighten back up again, or even reattach to the tooth.
Can loose teeth be saved? Again, it depends on the severity. Dentists will only recommend extracting loose teeth if they feel the mobility is too severe to treat.
Do loose teeth always fall out? If a loose tooth is left alone and no treatment is taken, then it will eventually get worse and fall out possibly bringing other teeth with it.
Why do loose teeth fall out? Your tooth relies on the tiny ligaments around it attaching themselves to the gums and bone in your jaw. If those ligaments are destroyed by infection or trauma, there’s nothing there to keep your tooth in.
How do I make loose teeth stronger? You can improve the health of your connective tissues by keeping your teeth and gums clean. Treat minor gingivitis as soon as it develops, schedule regular dental cleanings, and have a good oral hygiene routine every day.
Should I just extract the loose tooth? Extracting your teeth is usually the last thing you want to do. It’s almost always better to try to treat them, first. But if your teeth are non-restorable, removing them is the best way to prevent spread of disease.
Do loose teeth have to be pulled? If your condition is severe, then yes. Otherwise the deteriorating tissues will start to affect all of the surrounding teeth, resulting in additional tooth mobility and loss.
Are loose teeth looser in the morning? If your teeth feel looser in the morning, you’re probably clenching and grinding your teeth at night. We call this condition, bruxism.
How loose should teeth be? They shouldn’t be loose at all. If you feel any type of tooth mobility, it’s beyond what would be biologically healthy.
Why are the gums loose around my teeth? Loose gums are the result of advanced gum disease or some other type of dental infection. They should be tight to your tooth.
Are dogs supposed to have loose teeth? No. Just like people though, dogs can get gum disease from all of the tartar buildup on their teeth.
Should you pull loose dog teeth? Advanced gum disease in canines is usually treated by extracting the infected teeth. Otherwise your dog may not be able to eat normally.
Do loose dog teeth hurt? Yes. Sore teeth may prevent your dog from eating because of the pain in their mouth.
Why did my dog lose its teeth? Sometimes dogs get into fights or lose their teeth because they got caught on something that they were chewing. But if there is redness and loose teeth, your dog could have canine gum disease.
Do cats lose teeth? As with dogs, a cat might lose a tooth because of traumatic injury. It’s also possible for them to get gum disease.
When do horses lose their teeth?
Just like people, you can actually tell how old a horse is by looking at its teeth. They lose their first set of teeth between 2 1/2 and 5 years of age.
Do loose teeth cause bad breath? If the tooth is loose because of gum disease, then there’s a good chance your bad breath odor is coming from the necrotic tissues around the roots.
Are loose teeth a sign of cancer? They can be. A cyst or tumor may cause teeth to loosen as it destroys the bone in your jaw. Your dentist will need to take an X-ray to see what’s going on.
Are loose teeth dangerous? Yes. Any time your teeth are mobile, it means there’s some sort of problem going on inside of your mouth. If it’s gum disease, it can pose a risk to your overall health as well.
Are loose teeth due to teething? As teeth come in, they don’t have a fully developed root just yet. So, they might wiggle if you apply pressure to them. However, milk teeth, which are extra teeth, are loose and nonfunctional teeth that some babies are born with.
Should loose baby teeth be pulled? You want your child’s baby tooth to stay in place as long as it’s supposed to, so that it acts as a placeholder for its adult replacement. But if the tooth is so loose that your child won’t brush their teeth, it probably needs help wiggling it out.
Should you pull a child’s loose tooth? If the tooth is extremely loose, you might need to take it out especially if it’s interfering with diet and oral hygiene.
When do you lose front teeth? A child usually loses their front teeth when they’re in kindergarten or first grade. Girls tend to lose their baby teeth earlier than boys do.
What are milk teeth? Milk teeth are nonfunctional teeth that usually need to be taken out so that the baby can nurse or suck on a bottle. They’re present at birth.
Is there a homeopathic medicine that’s good for loose teeth? Most over-the-counter products contain essential oils, which are natural antimicrobials and help with bad breath from gum disease. You can also incorporate oral probiotics and specific types of vitamins to help boost your body’s immune system as it heals. Mechanical plaque removal with brushing and flossing, however, is always the most important DIY gum treatment.
Are there remedies that will tighten loose teeth? A visibly loose tooth will require professional dental treatment to help tighten it or prevent tooth loss.
Does oil pulling loosen teeth? As of yet, there are no known scientific studies showing the oral benefits of oil pulling.
Does diabetes cause loose teeth? Having diabetes can increase your chances of developing gum disease. And active periodontitis makes it harder to stabilize blood glucose levels!
Click here to learn how to kill the cause behind your teeth and gum problems.
- 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.
Article Written By Sharon Boyd
Sharon has been a Registered Dental Hygienist since 2001. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Relations and Business. In 2011, she began implementing her dental knowledge into freelance writing services that aided dentists, product designers, continuing education providers and web marketing firms for their online and distribution purposes. She has since bridged her services into the medical and cosmetic surgery fields.
Article Reviewed by Dr. Lara Coseo
Lara T. Coseo, DDS, is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry. She has 13 years of experience practicing general dentistry. She currently serves as a part-time faculty instructor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry and writes dental website content and blog material.