“I fell down, split my lip, and loosened a couple of teeth. Will they tighten up on their own?”
“This morning when I brushed my teeth they seemed to wobble. What’s up with that?”
“Last time I visited my grandpa, his teeth seemed bigger, and he says they’re getting loose. Is that normal?”
Almost everyone has had a loose tooth or teeth sometime in their life. Certainly it’s common with children as baby teeth disappear and mature teeth emerge. In an adult, however, a loose tooth may or may not be cause for concern, depending on the location of the tooth and the cause of the problem.
A loose tooth could be the result of an impact/trauma. This is not uncommon and can return to normal within a few days. A loose tooth could also be caused by night grinding. The grinding and clenching of teeth cause the ligaments to stretch and for the teeth to feel loose in the morning. Often in the aging process, gums recede and can result in teeth feeling loose. The most serious cause of loosening teeth is gum disease.
In many cases a loose tooth will heal and tighten up on its own. However, if the loose tooth is one of your central incisors – your main biting teeth — each time you bite into solid or hard foods, the tooth will likely move….. which could interfere with healing. Whatever the cause, if your tooth continues to feel loose or becomes looser, it is important to visit your periodontist to determine the cause.
If you have concerns about a loose tooth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Cordini for an examination. Until you have the exam, avoid hard or chewy foods. Sometimes the solution is very simple; a “guard” can be made to protect the tooth while it is healing.
In some instances, there may be some combination of compromise that affects the bone tissue and/or periodontal ligaments which keep the tooth in place. During an exam, Dr. Cordini can evaluate the hard and soft tissues for potential damage.
If he finds you suffer from stretched ligaments, he may recommend splinting the tooth to keep it stable and still for a couple of weeks – usually enough time for the ligaments to heal. If you’re a “grinder,” he will also provide a mouth guard to wear at night to prevent you from clenching and grinding your teeth.
Loose teeth caused by gum disease will require more extensive treatment. The first step will be to deep clean your mouth, removing plaque from deposits under the gum line. Infection will likely be treated with antibiotics. If the tooth is not able to be saved, then extracting the tooth and replacing it with a dental implant, dental bridge, or partial denture would be the appropriate solution.
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