A loose baby tooth is natural, whereas a loose adult tooth can be a disaster. This disaster has likely been forming for quite some time and is often the result of untreated periodontal disease, which can be caused by poor oral hygiene. How can not caring for your teeth actually result in the loosening of a tooth? And perhaps most critically, can a loose tooth be saved?
Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is your body's natural response to an excessive amount of dental plaque accumulation on the surface of a tooth. This plaque leads to an inflammation of your gums (which is gingivitis), and this can progress to periodontal disease.
The Tooth's Support Structure
Severe periodontal disease begins to degrade the tooth's support structure. The underlying bone retracts from the tooth's root, causing a repositioning of the tooth's periodontal ligament, which anchors the tooth in its socket. This is how periodontal disease can cause a tooth to loosen. Without treatment, it's likely that the tooth will ultimately fall out.
Splinting the Tooth
A loose permanent tooth requires an urgent trip to the dentist. They will need to take quick action to save the tooth. The tooth is stabilised, and this is achieved by splinting it to the neighbouring teeth with a thin wire. Next, the tooth's support structure must be addressed.
Root planing (the removal of hardened plaque from the tooth's root) will be performed. This smooths them out while removing the elements that have compromised their ability to support the tooth. For some patients, no further work is required, as the tooth will re-stabilise itself and will retain its strength with proper dental care in the future.
Bone and Tissue Restoration
Other patients might require more intensive intervention in order to stabilise the tooth. When a significant amount of soft tissue and/or bone tissue has receded, this must be replaced. A bone graft might be necessary. This means a tiny amount of bone tissue is grafted to the underlying bone, which then fuses into position. This bone tissue can be harvested from within your mouth, although donor bone tissue is also common. Soft tissue grafts can also be necessary, and the tissue in question is usually harvested from elsewhere in your mouth.
A loose permanent tooth will often lead to a lost permanent tooth, which is why any loosening of a permanent tooth requires urgent dental attention.
For more information, talk to a dentist.