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What are the Causes of Loose Teeth in Adults?

By Kay Paddock
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Loose teeth in adults are most commonly caused by periodontal disease and injury to the teeth and mouth. Periodontal disease is a condition in which tartar buildup and the resulting infections essentially eat away at the bone to which teeth are anchored. This allows them to become looser and shift in the mouth. Mouth injury, such a blow to the face, can loosen teeth. Bruxism, or a condition in which a person grinds his teeth together, will also usually loosen teeth over time.

Dentists measure teeth mobility by pressing on the teeth and attempting to wiggle them to see how far they move. Teeth should feel firm and anchored in place. People in the beginning stages of gum disease might not notice loose teeth right away, but a dentist can usually feel the movement. The first sign of gingivitis people typically notice is slightly receding gums that bleed when brushed. If the disease isn't treated at this stage, it can progress to periodontitis. This is the more advanced stage of periodontal disease in which the teeth usually start to loosen rapidly.

Root planing, special mouthwashes and regular dental check-ups can often halt both early and later stages of periodontal disease. Some of the loosest teeth, however, may need to be extracted. Measures such as gum flap surgery and jawbone grafts can sometimes save loose teeth once the gum disease is under control.

A dental injury caused by a blow to the mouth may also be the cause of loose teeth. This type of accidental trauma may actually knock teeth out completely. Today, even extremely loose teeth caused by mouth injury can often be saved by a dentist. If the teeth are only slightly loosened and there is no gum disease present that might interfere with healing, they will often firm back up on their own. If the root of the tooth is knocked completely loose, dental intervention will probably be necessary to save the tooth.

Another common reason for loose teeth is bruxism. Many people grind their teeth together while they sleep, so they have no control over it. A dentist can usually tell if a patient grinds his teeth because of wear and tear where the teeth meet. Special mouth guards can be worn during sleep to prevent this type of damage and take pressure off the teeth. Some dentists will make these guards to fit the patient, though inexpensive guards that can be molded to an individual's mouth are also available in some stores.

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Discussion Comments
By healthy4life — On Sep 30, 2012

My dad got some dental implants after he lost some of his loose teeth. He kept his original teeth until he reached his seventies, and then, he lost a few toward the back.

I believe that the dentist actually screwed the teeth to his jawbone. They are very well secured in place, so he doesn't ever have to worry about replacing them.

This sounds a lot better than dentures to me, because they can't slip out. If I ever lose teeth, I would want dental implants.

By DylanB — On Sep 29, 2012

@OeKc05 – People who have to shell out a lot of money to fix their periodontal disease and other tooth problems tend to take better care of them after that, though. I imagine that your husband will be brushing and flossing every day now.

I got motivated to start taking better care of my teeth when my dentist told me I had gingivitis. My gums had receded a lot in just a couple of years, and they sometimes bled when I flossed or if I brushed too vigorously.

After that, I started using a special mouthwash every day. I got a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging my gums, and if I couldn't brush after eating, I would chew sugar-free gum to get the food off my teeth. I was able to reverse my gingivitis.

By OeKc05 — On Sep 28, 2012

My husband has both periodontal disease and bruxism, so it isn't surprising that he has suffered major tooth decay. His mother never taught him the proper way to brush and floss, so he grew up with really bad habits.

He finally went to the dentist when he was 27 and couldn't bear the pain anymore. He had to go through several visits with major cleaning procedures and root planing, and he also had to have several teeth pulled.

The dentist will be making a mouth guard for him once all the surgeries, fillings, and cleanings are out of the way. Hopefully, this will prevent him from further damaging his teeth in his sleep.

By kylee07drg — On Sep 28, 2012
Wow, I haven't had a loose tooth since I was a kid about to lose my baby teeth! I can't imagine having one as an adult.

I would be pretty worried if I had a loose tooth as an adult, because I know that those roots go deeper, and it might be painful to extract. I try to take really good care of my teeth, and I have six-month checkups to make sure everything is as it should be.

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