A loose tooth can be a scary experience, especially if you are unsure as to why it is happening. Depending on the cause, there are a number of things that can be done to help prevent a tooth from becoming loose, and there are missing tooth replacement options available in cases of total tooth loss. It is important to know some of the most common reasons why a tooth may become loose so you can take some preventive measures:

Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, may be the most common cause of loose teeth in adults. The first stage is gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. This more severe form of periodontal disease affects the tissues and bones supporting the teeth, which can cause them to loosen and fall out.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Inadequate oral hygiene routines can result in a buildup of plaque and bacteria along the teeth and gums. In turn, this can lead to gum disease or make existing gum disease worse.

Teeth Clenching and Grinding (Bruxism)

Individuals who clench and grind their teeth while sleeping (or even during waking hours, in some cases) may be more prone to eventual tooth loss. Bruxism exerts excessive force on the teeth and their supporting tissues, which can result in the teeth becoming loose.

Certain Medical Conditions

Some types of medical conditions can lead to tooth loss. Diabetes, for instance, can impair the body’s ability to fight infections, including gum infections. Osteoporosis is another condition that may lead to tooth loss, as it can weaken bone strength in areas such as the jaws. The ability to manage underlying health conditions is crucial for both general health and oral dental health.

Missing Teeth

A missing tooth that has not been replaced with a dental implant or other form of dental restoration can endanger the health of the natural teeth that surround it. Those teeth may shift their position to fill the gap and/or become loose due to bone loss caused by the missing tooth.

Trauma/Facial Impact

Physical trauma or injury to the mouth can cause teeth to become loose. The risk is particularly high for individuals who regularly engage in contact sports.

Tobacco Use

Smoking and other uses of tobacco can have significant effects on the health of the teeth and gums. When combined with gum disease and/or poor oral hygiene, tobacco use can increase the risk of tooth loss.

The list above represents only some of the most common causes of loose teeth in adults. Fortunately, for individuals who have already lost some or all of their teeth, there are several options that can help. These include dental implants, traditional dentures, dental bridges, and implant-supported dentures. Additionally, there are some preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of future tooth loss. Maintaining good daily oral hygiene routines and attending the recommended number of dental check-ups and cleanings (at least two each year) are essential. For those who have gum disease, periodontal treatment can help keep the condition at bay and slow its progression. Individuals who grind their teeth at night can be fitted with a custom nightguard to lessen bruxism’s ability to harm the teeth, and those who play contact sports can reduce the risk of tooth loss from a facial injury by wearing a mouthguard.

Our dentists at Delmarva Dental Services offer a full range of options that can be helpful in the treatment or prevention of tooth loss. If you have lost a tooth or feel that a tooth has become loose, please don’t hesitate to contact our practice and schedule an oral evaluation.