The most obvious cause of a wobbly tooth is when it has been subjected to some form of trauma. The teeth are held in position in the socket by living tissues, principally ligaments. Any violent knock to your teeth, such as you might experience in a fall, will strain the ligaments, causing the tooth to come loose.
Another source of strain on your teeth and the ligaments might be more gradual, for instance, if you grind your teeth in your sleep. Over a period of time, the ligaments stretch and the tooth begins to loosen.
Your dentist can help to stabilize the tooth and offer you preventive measures to help maintain it in place.
A more common cause of loose teeth is when the gums become infected. It usually starts as gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums associated with bleeding when you brush. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontal disease, which can destroy gum tissue and the ligaments holding your teeth firmly in the jawbone, and can even damage the bone itself.
Gum disease is caused by bacterial plaque building up and forming tartar around the tooth. If not removed, this begins to cause inflammation of the gum and causes the gum to pull away from the tooth. The bacteria will then invade the space between the gum and the tooth and the infection will get worse.
Gum disease is best prevented by routine cleaning and by removal of tartar by your hygienist. Advanced conditions can be treated by surgery and deep cleaning.
This condition, which can occur to anyone at any age but is more common in older people and amongst women, causes weakening of the bone through the loss of calcium, a process known as resorption. As the bone holding the tooth becomes less dense, it can allow the tooth to become loose. Osteoporosis affects all the bones in the body and if your dentist detects it you will probably be referred to a doctor for treatment.
Some treatments for osteoporosis can, in rare cases, themselves be a cause of loose teeth, so it is important that you dentist knows what medications you are taking.
The hormones released during pregnancy have the natural effect of relaxing ligaments in preparation for the birth process. This includes a loosening of the ligaments holding the teeth, so it is not unusual for pregnant women to experience a loose tooth. This is normally not a problem and will resolve itself in time, but there is a small risk that the movement of the tooth will allow bacteria to invade the gums and cause periodontal disease. It is always a good idea to consult your dentist if you have any loose teeth so that this risk can be minimized.
Good dental health is important in pregnancy. Be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant so that you can receive appropriate treatment.
If the Worst Happens
Wobbling teeth often resolve themselves with good hygiene and careful eating, but there is a real possibility that if left untreated the situation will get worse, resulting in pain and a detrimental effect on your overall health. Eventually, it can result in your dentist needing to extract the tooth. Following your dentist’s advice will usually mean that the socket will heal quickly and you will have no further trouble.
In many cases, patients will want to replace the lost tooth. Thanks to modern advances in implant surgery, this is perfectly possible and the result can leave you with implants indistinguishable from natural teeth. If you live in Texas, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons of Houston is one of the leading practices who include this among a range of surgical procedures.
The Toll of Time
Our teeth possess the hardest material in the human body, and they are capable of resisting amazing forces. Moreover, they can go on doing this for decade after decade. But they are not invulnerable, and things do go wrong with them, especially as we get older. Good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist and hygienist will help to get a lifetime’s work out of them.
Georgina Taylor writes about dental topics for health, wellness and lifestyle blogs. She has worked as a dental assistant for several years and enjoys sharing her knowledge online.