We all know the feeling of having a wiggly tooth from when we lost our baby teeth as children.
As a child, it might have felt weird, but it might have come with the promise of a visit from the tooth fairy. As an adult however, knowing that adult teeth are not supposed to be wiggly or fall out, the feeling can be much more concerning.
Here’s what might be causing your wiggly or loose tooth as an adult, and what you can do about it.
The causes of wiggly teeth in adults
A wiggly tooth occurs when the tooth starts to lose its attachments and support with the bone and gums around it. It might wiggle when you touch it or eat, and it can get progressively worse.
As well as a loose tooth, you might also notice symptoms of red, swollen, or bleeding gums, and you may have seen that your gums are receding away from the teeth.
Often, the main cause of all of these symptoms is gum disease. Gum disease begins with gingivitis, which is relatively common and easily manageable with good oral hygiene. If left untreated, gingivitis can worsen into the advanced stage of gum disease – periodontitis.
Periodontitis occurs when plaque builds up on your teeth and hardens into tartar. This tartar can only be removed by a dental professional, but if it remains on your teeth, it can lead to swollen, red, and bleeding gums, and pockets forming around your teeth. Eventually, this can lead to wiggly teeth, tooth loss, and bone deterioration.
Another potential cause of wiggly teeth in adults is bruxism, which is more commonly known as tooth grinding. Grinding or clenching your teeth can be hard to spot because it often occurs in your sleep, but it can wear away at your teeth over time and cause them to loosen in their sockets.
Finally, you may experience a loose tooth due to a traumatic injury. Any large force to the mouth can cause your teeth to become wiggly or even fall out.
What can be done about wiggly teeth
The treatment for a loose tooth depends entirely on the cause.
For instances where the loose tooth is caused by bruxism, your dental professional can create a custom nightguard. This nightguard will fit a little like a mouthguard but much more comfortable, and it will help to protect your teeth from grinding while you sleep.
In cases of periodontitis (gum disease), your dentist will offer treatment for the gum disease itself, which could include a number of procedures.
Splinting involves bonding a piece of metal from the back of the wiggly tooth to the back of two neighbouring teeth. This can help to support the wiggly tooth and keep it from moving.
Flap surgery involves performing a deep scaling and root planing procedure on the tooth to remove the built-up tartar and infection that’s causing the problem. Your dentist will then reattach the gum after the procedure, which can help to save the tooth from falling out completely.
If the damage has advanced to bone deterioration, your dentist may refer you for a bone graft to replace the damaged bone in your jaw. This can help to repair the jaw enough to support your teeth.
In serious cases, it may be too late to save the tooth. Your dentist may instead recommend removing it completely and replacing it with a permanent dental implant, which looks, feels, and acts just like a real tooth.
The exact treatment will depend entirely on our oral health, how advanced the damage is, and the cause of the damage. If you have a wiggly tooth as an adult, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Northcote Dental for a consultation and treatment plan.