Worried About a Loose Tooth?

Do you have a loose tooth? Worried about what is causing this and the outlook for your smile? This site is here to help with sound advice.

While it is normal for young children to get loose teeth (the first should be around the age of 6), in adults, it can be a major sign that you have a problem. There are two main causes which we will discuss below. But the major reason by far is gum disease. Let this condition drag on without treatment, and the bone that holds the teeth in place is eroded away. Without this support, a tooth will become loose (or ‘mobile’ as dentists call it).

Fortunately this situation can be corrected, or certainly lessened, if you visit a dentist in time. The dentist will be in a position to help you when you seek treatment immediately you realize that you have a loose tooth problem.


What causes a loose tooth?

"Image of a loose front tooth due to gum disease"

Gum Disease is the leading cause of loose teeth

There are several causes, here they are listed in relative order of frequency.

  • Gum disease. This is the biggie, the leading cause not only of tooth mobility but also for loss of teeth. Periodontal disease is the more severe form, where the gums are stripped back and the bone is also worn away. Factors that lead to this common condition are lack of oral hygiene, smoking, diabetes and lack of regular dental cleanings.
  • Accidental trauma. If a tooth is knocked loose, then it may remain so for a few days. It may tighten up again by itself, depending on how severe a blow it receives. A cracked root may not be fiaxable. But there is a risk later of nerve death and an abscess so always best to get it checked with your dentist.
  • Bite alignment problems. If a tooth lies out of line then it may receive more force from your bite than it can handle, and as such may become mobile.
  • A localised infection, or abscess. An underlying infection in the gum will make a tooth loose.
  • Bruxism, i.e. grinding or clenching. Similar to bite problems above, whereby excessive forces from the bite can make teeth loose.
Note that all healthy teeth have a natural degree of mobility! They are not fixed tight in their sockets, instead attached to the bone via a slightly elastic ligament. So they can be moved a little, sometimes more than a little for some people. Don’t panic if a tooth is slightly loose, but do get it checked out with a dentist.


Consequences of Severe Gum Disease

As this page is about loose teeth, then this is of course the most relevant symptom of severe periodontal disease. But what else may be going on if you have this condition? Here are some other consequences to be aware of:

  • Gum disease has a proven negative effect on some health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. So ignoring the problem, and/or not looking after your teeth can have serious health consequences.
  • Even if you only have one loose tooth, there may be many others that are heading the same way. If you have hidden gum disease you may be looking at a lot of dental treatment, including extractions, dentures or implants. DO NOT IGNORE the problem!
  • Loose teeth will make eating more difficult and potentially painful.
  • A mobile tooth will also be more prone to drifting out of line, leading to an unattractive smile.
Again, the key message here is to get to your dentist as soon as you detect a problem. You may not have gum disease! But best get it checked out, as early intervention is vital.
Watch this useful video on perio disease:


How to save your loose toothdentist

The treatment depends on the cause, of course. But the first action to take is to get an assessment with a dental professional. The procedures needed may be extensive gum cleanings, filing down out-of-line teeth, treating abscesses, placing splints or wearing night-guards at night if you are grinding.

See loose tooth treatment next for more advice.

If you have any questions on this topic, use our contact page and our dentist will get back you.


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