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Loose Teeth? Get Help Sooner Rather Than Later

Woman with Tooth Pain

For many people, a problem in the mouth quickly becomes a source of stress, worry and sometimes pain. And that’s understandable, given what we now know about oral health and how that signifies other conditions in our bodies. Our mouths, filled with bacteria, are the gateway to other important parts, like the digestive and respiratory tracts. Generally, this bacteria is good, but without a good regimen of oral care - like brushing and flossing regularly - the bad bacteria that is in the mix can quickly overwhelm our health. 

Loose teeth are a sign that something has gotten out of whack in the mouth. Good healthy gums and bones have a tight grip on the teeth that are anchored there. When those gums start to let go, it’s an urgent call to action - something that should be dealt with immediately. After all, your adult teeth are meant to last your lifetime. Let’s take a look at some of the things that can cause loose teeth.

Gum Disease

Yes, gum disease - or periodontitis - is the number one culprit of loose teeth. Periodontitis is actually at the top of the list for many of the bad things that can happen in our mouth. And periodontitis is typically fairly easy to avoid, but we’ll talk more about that later on.

Gum disease, or inflammation and infection of the gums, is often caused by neglect. It shows up in a variety of ways, loose teeth being one of those ways. Before loose teeth appear, you may notice that your gums are inflamed and red. Your gums may be tender when you touch them or attempt to brush and floss. Other sources of gum disease may be part of the normal aging process, osteoporosis, disease or genetics.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, menopause and aging can cause a shift in how bones and ligaments act, including the ones that support your teeth. That’s because hormones like estrogen and progesterone play an important role in how bones grow and live. Many people think bones are lifeless structures holding up the body, but bones actually grow, die and regrow throughout our lifetime. Children and teens make new bones faster than they lose old bones, but due to hormonal changes in pregnancy and just prior to, during and after menopause, bones may start losing more than they are gaining.

For pregnant women, the news is good. These types of hormonal changes during pregnancy will settle after the baby is born. However, pregnant women should still see a dentist during their pregnancy and if loosening teeth become concerning, check with your dental practitioner. It’s always best to be safe rather than sorry and you certainly don’t need something more to stress about.

Women who are facing menopause also have choices. Diet, exercise and a good dental regimen will go a long way to mitigating bone loss and the resulting possible loss of teeth. There are also medications that can help alleviate the effects of hormonal changes during menopause.  

As we age, we can develop something called osteoporosis which causes bones to become weaker. This condition affects many bones in the body, including the jaw bone which helps support your teeth. Some medical professionals believe some treatments for osteoporosis can also cause loose teeth, so be sure and consult your medical team before taking supplements or OTC drugs.

As always, check with your dental professional to discover ways to help if you start to experience loose teeth.

Injury

Accidents happen. There are a multitude of ways teeth can become loose due to trauma, including playing sports and falls. You can also cause damage if you grind your teeth. If you’ve developed loose teeth after an injury, you’ll want to make an appointment to see your dental professional. 

Some people don’t know they are grinding their teeth, especially if it happens while they are sleeping. Believe it or not, your dentist can tell by looking at your teeth if you are a grinder. He or she can help you find a solution - maybe a teeth guard - so that no further damage is done. 

Avoiding Gum Disease

In most cases, performing strict oral hygiene and care will help you avoid the gum disease that can lead to loose teeth. That’s why it is so important as a parent to teach your children to take care of their teeth with regular brushing, flossing and dental visits so those habits will carry into adulthood. Good oral hygiene includes:

  • Thoroughly brushing your teeth (for two minutes) at least twice a day. Although it may seem to make sense to use a hard- or medium-bristle brush to clean better, the American Dental Association recommends a soft-bristle brush to minimize damage to the gums.
  • Flossing at least once daily.
  • Regular dental visits and dental cleanings.
  • Asking about medications and supplements to find out how they may affect your teeth.
  • Keeping diseases that can affect gum health under control. For example, diabetes has been shown to affect gum health.

Remember, your lifestyle also affects your oral health. Smoking in particular has been proven to have a poor effect on a variety of systems in the body, oral health included. Drinking too much, eating an unhealthy diet loaded with sugar and not exercising may also contribute to an overall bad oral health outcome.

Looking at a dental implant

Treating Gum Disease

You should make an appointment immediately to see your dental professional at the first sign of gum disease, hopefully before loose teeth become an issue. But if you’ve missed those first signs and start noticing loose teeth, the faster you can get to treatment the more likely it is that your teeth can be saved. Dental treatments for gum disease include:

  • Medications or mouth rinses - If gum disease is caught early enough, treating the underlying infection is an option. Generally, if gum health is causing loose teeth, the time for infection treatment as a first line of defense has passed.
  • Scaling and root planing - Typically done under a local anesthetic, these procedures are a deep clean, meant to remove the built-up plaque and calcification that cause gum disease.
  • Surgery - Bone and/or soft tissue grafting to replace bone and tissue lost to advanced gum disease.

If you’ve lost a tooth or teeth due to gum disease, accident or other medical or normal aging reasons, you may be able to explore dental implants as a solution.

The Take-Away

Regular dental visits and cleanings, along with a strict at-home dental regimen that includes brushing for two minutes twice daily and flossing, can almost certainly help you avoid the gum disease that leads to tooth loss. Following your medical professional’s advice and treatment for diseases that affect oral health will go a long way to mitigating a poor oral outcome. 

At San Antonio Periodontics and Implants, we can discuss your options in a caring environment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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