When you’re a child, it’s cute. In fact, there’s probably an awkward family photo of you when you were six years old, proudly pushing a loose front tooth with your index finger. Losing baby teeth meant a treat or money from the “Tooth Fairy.” In short, loose baby teeth = charming. Loose permanent teeth? Not so much.
Why Do Adults Have Loose Teeth?
There are a wide variety of reasons. It could result from an injury or accident, gum disease or even from grinding teeth during sleep. Don’t worry. Your dentist will work with you to help you keep your tooth and treat any underlying problems that may be contributing to its wobbly state.
How To Treat A Loose Tooth
If you’re in the unfortunate situation of being an adult with a loose tooth (and no chance of financial compensation from the “Tooth Fairy”) here’s what to do:
- Get to your dentist ASAP.
This should be an obvious answer, but many may not go to the dentist because they are afraid that a loose tooth indicates the need for extensive dental work, which is not always the case. Taking care of any problems now will help you in the long run. It’s important to realize that your oral health can affect the well-being of every system in your body, and your dentist knows that. Allow your dentist to talk you through any treatment plans or procedures.If nervousness is keeping you from seeing the dentist, don’t let it! Don’t be afraid to discuss your uneasiness with your health care team. Most dentists practice “gentle dentistry,” and offer sedation or other tools to help you relax. If you can’t get in to see your dentist immediately, ask for his or her specific instructions on how to care for the tooth until you can get an appointment.
- Leave it alone!
Don’t pull or pick at the tooth, and resist the temptation to wiggle it around with your tongue or finger. If you’ve been informed that the tooth will need to be removed anyway, do not make any attempt to pull it yourself. Doing so increases the risk of infection and excessive bleeding—not to mention the risk of a root or piece of the tooth breaking off in the socket. Leave this task to the professionals.
- Eat soft foods.
Avoid biting into hard foods such as apples, or eating crunchy food such as popcorn, which tends to get stuck in between teeth. Avoid sticky foods.
- Keep it clean.
Make every attempt to keep the tooth clean, but realize that you will not be able to brush or floss it normally. Rinsing the mouth gently will help clear your mouth of food particles.
Treatment for a Loose Tooth
Your dentist has several options for treating a loose tooth. Of course, treatment depends upon the cause of your loose tooth. Treatments include:
- Tooth splinting, where the loose tooth is bonded to other teeth around it.
- Your dentist may need to replace the tooth with an implant.
- Deep cleaning. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of loose teeth. Gum disease creates pockets of infection between the teeth and gums, and as a result, the gums recede. Receding gums can cause loose teeth. By performing a deep cleaning, your dentist clears the infection, giving your gums a chance to heal. As the gums heal, they should “tighten” the grip on the loose tooth.
Loose teeth are concerning, but rarely a cause for panic. Taking a few simple precautions and getting in to see your dentist ASAP can not only save your tooth, but help ensure the health of your other teeth. If you have any concerns, please ask your dentist.
American Dental Association. “Treating Periodontal Diseases.”