For children, the discovery of a loose tooth is often something to celebrate. For a child, it means that the tooth fairy will soon be leaving a reward under their pillow in exchange for a tooth. However, for adults, discovering that you have a loose tooth can leave you panic stricken, as you begin to imagine the possible consequences.

If you discover that one or more of your teeth are loose, you need to act quickly to diagnose and treat the problem—with the help of a dentist of course!

Diagnose the Problem First

Teeth generally become loose due to three main reasons, which shall be briefly explained here.

Loose Teeth due to Grinding (Bruxism)

Dentists refer to this type of trauma as "primary occlusal trauma", which means excessive forces have been applied to a tooth or teeth. This could be due to bruxism or teeth grinding; which usually happens at night, often unbeknownst to the sufferer.

Loose Teeth due to Accidental Trauma

If you have recently suffered a collision or a fall, you might have hit a tooth or teeth, and caused them to loosen.

Loose Teeth due to Periodontal Disease

If you are sure that neither of the above is true for you, then you may have periodontal disease, which is actually one of the most common reasons for loose teeth. This occurs due to poor oral hygiene. When oral bacteria are allowed to build up on your teeth as plaque, eventually this plaque will harden into tartar.

Tartar is essentially a bacterial colony that produces harmful acids. These bacteria cause your gums to draw back from the teeth, and also create pockets around the teeth filled with toxins that can cause bone loss and a loss of the periodontal ligaments that hold teeth in place.

So What to Do?

Of course, whatever the case may be, you should immediately visit your dentist so you can pinpoint the exact cause of the looseness. Do not assume that leaving the tooth; or teeth, alone will help it to recover. Book a dental appointment immediately because time is of the essence.

Treatment for Loose Teeth due to Periodontal Disease

If you are suffering from periodontal disease, before anything else can happen, your dentist, or a periodontist must perform a deep cleaning and scaling to remove the buildup of plaque beneath your gums. Once this is done, if your teeth can be saved, your dentist will attach a temporary or permanent splint to hold your teeth rigidly in place as they heal. Another option the dentist may discuss is a dental crown

In some cases, extraction might be the only option. This is why it is imperative that you act quickly.

Treatment for Trauma Due to Injury

If you see your dentist as soon as you can after the injury, you may have a high chance of saving the tooth. If you do nothing, you have a 50/50 chance of keeping the tooth. You have to bear in mind that while chewing food; your injured tooth will be pushed around, worsening its condition.

Your dentist will attach either a temporary or permanent splint to help divide chewing forces across several teeth, and hold the injured tooth in place as it heals.

In minor cases or in cases when the affected tooth is a heavily used one, such as an upper central incisor, your dentist may even give you a mouth guard to wear while you eat.

Treatment for Looseness Caused by Grinding

In this case, your dentist will design an occlusal splint or night guard to help protect your loose tooth from any further damage. You should also continue to wear the guard even after the tooth has healed to protect your teeth against wear and tear.

Remember, the faster you act upon discovering a loose tooth, the better your chances of keeping that tooth.