When a baby tooth is loose, it’s time to celebrate and prepare for a visit from the tooth fairy. However, when an adult tooth is noticeably loose, it’s time to be concerned as another one will not grow in behind it. A loose tooth signals that something is wrong with the ligaments that suspend the teeth in their sockets. This support system also helps to absorb the “bite force” while chewing. It’s possible there might also be damage to the other periodontal support structures, namely the jaw bone and gums.

Main Causes For a Loose Tooth

  • Excessive Bite Force – Considered a “primary occlusal trauma” excessive bite force means that the tooth has experienced a prolonged biting force beyond its tolerance. This can result from tooth misalignment in which the tooth sustains more bite force than it’s meant to withstand due to its’ positioning. Clenching of the teeth and habitual grinding, or bruxism, also fall under this category.
  • Extensive Bone Loss – When extensive bone loss occurs around a tooth, it is considered a “secondary occlusal trauma” or advanced periodontal disease. This kind of trauma occurs when normal forces are applied to the teeth but the ligaments are unable to withstand those forces due to bone loss. Advanced periodontal disease is the most common cause of a loose tooth.
  • A Blow To the Face – If you do sustain a traumatic blow to the face, the reason for tooth looseness should be no mystery. This often requires professional dental care to allow the teeth to heal in the proper position and to prevent further damage.

Treatment Options

The treatment approach for loose teeth is two-fold – both biologic and mechanical. The biologic approach involves treating the periodontal disease first so that the periodontal attachment can heal and in turn, allow the mechanical options to be successful. The mechanical approach involves modifying the forces applied to the teeth during bruxism, biting and/or clenching. This approach also addresses the effects of the force on the periodontal ligament, as well as, modifying the amount of biting force generated by the jaw muscles. The appropriate treatment plan will be determined based on the degree of tooth looseness and depending on the source and intensity of the bite force present. Three of the most common methods for treatment include the following…

  • Mouth Guard – In the case of bruxism (grinding), or clenching, a mouth guard may be used as a protective barrier between upper and lower teeth to deflect the bite force.
  • Occlusal Adjustment – This method involves reshaping the biting surface of the tooth to reduce the amount of force it receives. Orthodontic treatment may also be considered to improve proper alignment.
  • Splinting – This option involves joining teeth together to help distribute the bite force evenly between them. There are temporary and permanent options available depending upon the individual’s amount of bone loss and on the status of their healing progression.

Tri-State Family Dentistry has a lot of experience with loose teeth. Never ignore a loose tooth, chances are it will only get worse.

Contact Us (859-689-1105) For More Information or to Make an Appointment!


About Tri-State Family Dentistry

Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.