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A Loose Adult Tooth Is Never Normal. Here's What Can Cause It And How It Can Be Treated

While many people have fond memories of losing teeth as children and getting money from the Tooth Fairy, it's not something that should carry over to adulthood — a loose adult tooth is a serious dental problem.

When an adult tooth is loose, it means that the periodontal ligaments connecting the root of the tooth to the jawbone have been severely damaged. Damage to your periodontal ligaments may be caused by trauma to your mouth, gum disease, or bruxism (clenching and grinding your teeth at night). If you have a loose adult tooth, here are some common causes and how a dentist will treat them.

Oral Trauma

If you have recently been hit in the mouth or bumped your chin, you may have damaged the periodontal ligaments holding your tooth in. Thankfully, this is easy to treat. During your dental appointment, a splint will be placed around your loose tooth to hold it in place. Dental cement will be used to secure the splint to the teeth adjacent to your loose tooth, which keeps it from moving around.

Once your loose tooth is held in place, the periodontal ligaments will begin to heal. Before your appointment, resist the temptation to move your loose tooth with your finger or your tongue to check to see how loose it is — you'll damage the ligaments further.

Gum Disease

The inflammation caused by severe gum disease can slowly destroy your periodontal ligaments. Gum disease is progressive — when it goes untreated, your gums begin to recede and allow plaque to form closer to the root of your tooth.

Bacteria and plaque near your tooth's root cause inflammation deep in your gums near your jawbone, and this inflammation causes the tissue in your periodontal ligaments to deteriorate. Unless you treat your gum disease, your tooth will continue to become looser until it eventually falls out.

When you schedule an appointment with a dentist, you'll undergo a deep cleaning to remove all of the plaque near the root of your tooth. You'll also be prescribed antibiotics to kill any bacteria that remains after your deep cleaning. Once your gum disease has been successfully treated, your tooth will be splinted to give your periodontal ligaments a chance to heal.


Bruxism is a condition wherein you frequently grind and clench your teeth involuntarily. This subjects your teeth to extreme forces that can damage their periodontal ligaments. Many people with bruxism only grind and clench their teeth at night, so they're unaware that they suffer from this condition — if you have bruxism, your only clue may be unexplained headaches or jaw pain that you feel when you first wake up in the morning.

Your dentist can make a custom night guard for you to wear when you sleep in order to prevent bruxism from damaging your teeth. A night guard fits snugly in your mouth while you're sleeping and reduces the amount of force placed on your teeth from nighttime teeth grinding. After you've been given a night guard, your loose tooth will be protected from bruxism.

Scheduling an appointment with a dentist to treat your bruxism is very important to prevent further damage to your teeth. People who suffer from bruxism will quickly wear down their enamel and make their teeth more susceptible to decay and extreme sensitivity.

While a loose adult tooth is a cause for concern, prompt treatment at a dentist's office such as Belgrade Dental Associates could prevent it from falling out completely. If you have a loose tooth, schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible. Letting gum disease or bruxism go untreated will lead to much more severe dental problems later on.