Accessibility View Close toolbar

Loose Teeth & Bite Problems

Biting forces can loosen teeth as bone loss progresses.When you are a child, your first loose tooth can be cause for celebration; when you are an adult, it definitely is not. Biting and chewing with a tooth that is not securely attached in its socket can be difficult or even painful — and any tooth that becomes loose is at risk of needing to be removed or, at worst, falling out. It's often possible to prevent that from happening, but quick action is required.

Causes

The most common reason for tooth looseness is periodontal disease — a bacterial infection of the gum and/or bone tissues that surround and support your teeth. The infection results from bacterial plaque that sits on your teeth in the absence of effective oral hygiene. Over time, periodontal disease will cause gum tissue to detach from the teeth as plaque and tartar formation increases and tooth-supporting bone is lost. As more bone is lost, teeth gradually become loose and are unable to withstand normal biting forces. If severe periodontal disease remains untreated, loose teeth will eventually fall out.

Another common contributor to the loosening of teeth is a clenching or grinding habit that generates too much biting force. This force can stretch the periodontal ligaments that join the teeth to the supporting bone, making your teeth looser. These habits can accelerate bone loss and also cause jaw pain and excessive tooth wear.

Treatment

Just as the causes of loose teeth can be biological (disease) or mechanical (too much force) — or both — so, too, are the treatments. Let's first take a look at the biological approach.

To control gum disease, a dental professional must thoroughly clean the teeth of plaque and harder deposits (tartar or calculus) in which bacteria thrive; this includes the tooth-root surfaces beneath the gum line. At the same visit, you will be instructed on effective oral hygiene techniques and products to use at home. Often this type of deep cleaning, combined with improved oral hygiene, will reduce inflammation and heal the gums enough to cause some tightening of the teeth.

The mechanical approach involves modifying the forces that are applied to the teeth. This can be achieved in a number of ways. For example, an occlusal (bite) adjustment can be performed by carefully reshaping minute amounts of tooth surface enamel. This changes the way upper and lower teeth contact each other, redirecting and lessening the force. Replacing broken fillings and restoring worn teeth is also sometimes needed to create a more balanced bite, even when teeth are not loose.

Splinting teeth.It is also possible to reduce stresses on teeth by temporarily or permanently splinting them together like fence pickets so that any biting force is distributed among groups of teeth rather than individual loosened teeth. The splint is a very small metal bracket bonded to the backs of or tops of the teeth.

If clenching or grinding habits are a problem, a custom-made bite guard (also called an occlusal splint) can be worn when needed. Placed in the mouth at night or in times of stress, it can protect the teeth from the consequences of too much biting force. This can also be helpful in preventing excessive tooth wear, and sometimes in relieving jaw pain.

Loose teeth can be successfully treated with both biological and mechanical techniques. A thorough examination will be needed to determine the best approach. So if you are experiencing tooth looseness, don't wait — the sooner this problem is addressed, the more likely you are to keep your natural teeth.

Related Articles

Loose Teeth - Dear Doctor Magazine

Loose Teeth Tooth looseness is a complex but treatable problem. More often than not, it is a fairly late sign of periodontal (gum) disease. If you are experiencing this, it's important to act fast to try and save your teeth... Read Article

Loose Teeth - Dear Doctor Magazine

Treatment for Loose Teeth Sometimes very loose teeth can be splinted or joined together like pickets in a fence so that any biting force is distributed among groups of teeth rather than individual loosened teeth. However, before deciding upon a treatment, the long-term prognosis of the teeth must be considered... Read Article

Cockrell Dental Office

1040 Hillcrest Rd.
Mobile, AL 36695
Phone: (251) 639-0110
Fax: (251) 634-1097
Email: [email protected] 

google
Yelp

Office Hours

Monday - Wednesday:

7:30 am - 5:30 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am - 3:30 pm

Friday:

7:30 am - 12:30 pm

Saturday, Sunday:

Closed

Featured Articles

Read about helpful topics

  • Fillings

    Frequently asked questions: dental fillings Are dental amalgams safe? Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to amalgam? Is it true that dental amalgams have been banned in other countries? Is there a filling material that matches tooth color? If my tooth doesn't hurt and my filling is still in ...

    Read More
  • Sealants

    Sealants are liquid coatings that harden on the chewing surfaces of teeth and are showing a great deal of effectiveness in preventing cavities—even on teeth where decay has begun. The pits and grooves of your teeth are prime areas for opportunistic decay. Even regular brushing sometimes misses these ...

    Read More
  • Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Patient

    Patient Rights You have a right to choose your own dentist and schedule an appointment in a timely manner. You have a right to know the education and training of your dentist and the dental care team. You have a right to arrange to see the dentist every time you receive dental treatment, ...

    Read More
  • Scaling and Root Planing

    Some cases of acute periodontal (gum) disease that do not respond to more conventional treatment and self-care such as flossing may require a special kind of cleaning called scaling and root planing. The procedure begins with administration of a local anesthetic to reduce any discomfort. Then, a small ...

    Read More
  • Toothaches

    Simple toothaches can often be relieved by rinsing the mouth to clear it of debris and other matter. Sometimes, a toothache can be caused or aggravated by a piece of debris lodged between the tooth and another tooth. Avoid placing an aspirin between your tooth and gum to relieve pain, because the dissolving ...

    Read More
  • Introduction

    Does mercury in the silver fillings in your mouth pose any long-term health risks? Does fluoride, in spite of everything we've been told since childhood, actually cause more harm than good? What does the latest research reveal about tobacco use on your overall oral health? This section is dedicated ...

    Read More
  • Medications

    Some dental procedures, such as tooth extractions and oral surgery, may call for our office to prescribe medications before or after a procedure. These medications are used to prevent or fight an infection, or to relieve any post-operative discomfort and pain. For these reasons, it is extremely important ...

    Read More
  • Oral Piercing

    Oral piercings (usually in the tongue or around the lips) have quickly become a popular trend in today’s society.  With this popular trend, it is important to realize that sometimes even precautions taken during the installation of the piercing jewelry are not enough to stave off harmful, long-term ...

    Read More
  • Infection Control

    Standards and Best Practice With all of the increased media attention on infection outbreaks such as AIDS and multi-drug resistant strains of viruses, it's no wonder people have heightened concerns about infection control during a medical procedure. Gloves, gowns and masks are required to be worn ...

    Read More