Whilst a loose tooth in a child might well result in a visit from the tooth fairy, it’s not such an occasion for us adults. In fact, a loose tooth can be alarming.
Some causes in adults are harmless, but others require the attention of a dental professional, who may save it or may remove it and repace it with an implant or bridge.
Poor dental hygiene, often resulting in gum disease or periodontitis.
The gums become inflamed, swollen, sore, painful and infected. Gums bleed when the teeth are brushed.
If brushing and flossing don’t properly remove plaque, which contains bacteria, it sticks to the teeth and hardens to the point where only a dental professional can remove it. The hardened plaque is tartar, which causes the gums to start to separate from the teeth, creating gaps. As time passes, the supporting bone and tissue around the teeth can break down, leaving the teeth loose. The imperative is therefore to consult a dentist early, because doing so may mean treatment can be given to prevent tooth loss.
Having raised levels of hormones can change the bones and ligaments – the periodontium – which support the teeth. This cause and effect should not give rise to concern, because this will resolve after pregnancy. However, if there is pain or obviously loose teeth during pregnancy, it’s wise to consult a dentist.
Checkups, tooth hygiene treatments and x-rays are all safe for those who are pregnant. In fact, regular checkups should not be interrupted because of pregnancy.
If teeth are damaged for example whilst playing sport or as the result of a motor vehicle accident, then a dentist should be seen as soon as is possible. Any chipped or loose teeth can be treated to avoid problems later on.
Injury can also be caused by tooth grinding or clenching. YOu may not be aware that you grind your teeth or clench your jaw until you start to feel pain.
This is a disease causing the bones to weaken and become porous, which means that they are more vulnerable to damage. The bones in the jaw are not immune to this, even though the most common bones affected are those in the hips and spine.
Whilst it is rare, medication which is used to treat osteoporosis can also cause dental health problems.
If in doubt about the security and stability of any of your teeth, make an appointment to see your dentist. It is better to know and have treatment than to wonder and leave it until too late!