What Do Loose Teeth in Adults Indicate?

  • Mar 5 2019

Is having a loose tooth always a sign of something serious like periodontal disease?

Having a loose tooth as a young child is a big deal! It means the tooth fairy is on alert and ready to swoosh in and make the traditional tooth-for-cash exchange sometime during the night. The going rate fluctuates and, according to current surveys (yes, there actually are surveys taken each year of the market rate for tooth fairy transactions), it is actually going down when adjusted for inflation.

The amount of money found under a pillow may change, but the fact that a child’s first set of teeth loosens and falls out does not. It is a normal fact of life. When an adult discovers that one or more teeth are loose, this is not normal and is never a good thing. In fact, a loose tooth is likely to be a red flag or warning that something serious is going on that needs immediate attention.

Possible Causes of Loose Teeth

  • Periodontal disease – also known as gum disease, periodontal disease is infection and inflammation of the gums, usually the result of less than adequate dental hygiene practices. This condition is extremely common. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates at least half of all adults in the U.S. over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease. Besides a tooth or teeth being loose, other symptoms of periodontal disease include:
    • Receding gums
    • Redness, pain or swelling in the gums
    • Gums that often bleed when brushing or flossing
    • Movement of teeth and a change in how they fit relative to each other
  • Pregnancy – changes in the levels of hormones during pregnancy can affect the bones and tissue surrounding the teeth and holding them in place. While this is normal and should resolve following delivery, there is some evidence of a link between premature birth and gum disease, so it is highly recommended that dental exams are continued during pregnancy.
  • Osteoporosis – this disease results in the bones of the body, including those supporting the teeth, losing their density and becoming more porous. This can result in the teeth becoming loose. Research by the National Institute of Health shows that tooth loss is three times more likely when osteoporosis is present.  
  • Trauma – blows or other types of injuries to the face and damage from frequent grinding of the teeth, especially while sleeping, can also be the cause of loose teeth.

By far, the best treatment for loose teeth is to prevent them from becoming loose in the first place. Consistent attention to good oral hygiene practices should be at the top of your list. Unfortunately, for causes unrelated to gum disease, this will not be enough. Depending on the issue, there are a variety of treatment options available, and the best chance for saving the tooth is to seek professional help as soon as possible. Often the condition will be detected by your dentist before it gets really serious during an annual exam or regular cleaning, which underscores the importance of these appointments.

And, for those interested, the most recent “Original Tooth Fairy Poll” (a real thing, believe it or not) determined that the average amount left under pillows by the tooth fairy is $4.13 per tooth. More for that first tooth, of course, but, overall, payouts appear to be down.

If you have questions about a loose tooth, periodontal disease or about any of our services, whether dentistry or aesthetics, Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality services possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction are our priority.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to use our online form by clicking here.

Categories: Periodontics, Uncategorized