Loose teeth are usually a sign of advanced gum disease.
Gum disease is a slow, insidious process. It begins in the gingival sulcus, an area just above where the gum attaches to the tooth.
Plaque accumulates in this area. If left undisturbed for as little as a day, it begins to calcify into hard deposits called calculus. Unless it is cleaned off regularly, this calculus becomes a chronic irritant to the gums. It is loaded with bacteria that secrete toxins into the sulcus, and these toxins, along with the body’s defensive response, cause the destruction of the tissue that supports the teeth. To complicate the matter, it also causes inflammation, including swelling, of the gingival tissues, which protects the bacteria.
This is the process that is called periodontal disease. The insidious part is that there isn’t any pain, and the only noticeable early symptom is a little bleeding of the gums, which many people don’t realize is abnormal. Often, the first warning sign that the patient notices is that they have loose teeth. But by then, the destruction is so advanced there is often little that can be done.
What to Do about Loose Teeth
When it comes to loose teeth, the most effective treatment is prevention. Having your teeth cleaned every six months (or as often as every two or three months if you have early periodontal disease), plus conscientious home care, can protect your teeth and gums so you never get to the point where your teeth are loose.
Once they are loose, in some cases they can be treated with advanced cleaning procedures and other treatments. Too often, though, they are hopeless. And then, once you’ve lost your teeth, you can be tempted to try to just get by with removable dentures, ending up years later with facial collapse, and becoming a dental cripple.
The good news is that with modern dental implants techniques, you can have replacement teeth surgically placed. While nothing is as good as having your own natural teeth, dental implants are much better than any other tooth replacement. Not only do they prevent facial collapse, but you can eat and enjoy all your food, without restriction.
Other Possible Causes of Loose Teeth
A tooth can become loose from chronic infection, due to a failed root canal treatment or a cracked root. It can also become loose from traumatic injury. If a tooth breaks partway down the root, it can become loose and unrepairable.
A case that was treated by Dr. Thein where a patient’s front tooth that had a root canal treatment and a crown, and it became loose. A careful examination and x-ray revealed a vertical bony defect caused by a vertical crack in the root. The tooth was unrepairable and had to be extracted.
Dr. Thein is able to graft in some bone to repair the bony defect and then place a dental implant and crown, making the patient appear as if nothing had happened to their front tooth.