Preventing permanent tooth loss

Every adult remembers the thrill and excitement of wiggling a loose tooth with your tongue or finger as a small child. However, excitement is the last thing you will feel as an adult if you notice that one (or several) of your permanent teeth feel loose.

Some causes of loose teeth in adults are harmless, while others require the care of a dental professional to save the tooth before it’s too late. Here’s what to do if you notice a permanent tooth becoming loose and how it can lead to tooth loss if ignored.

When a Tooth Becomes Loose as an Adult

Noticing a loose tooth as an adult can be a terrifying experience. When the problem is detected early, more times than not, the tooth can be saved with the help of your dentist. Knowing the causes of loose permanent teeth and the top contributors’ signs and symptoms can help you keep your teeth intact and avoid expensive tooth replacement options.

Gum Disease

Also known as periodontitis, gum disease involves inflammation and infection of the gums. Poor dental hygiene habits typically cause it. When brushing and flossing aren’t performed correctly, gum disease can quickly develop. Dental plaque, which contains bacteria, sticks to the teeth and hardens over time. Once hardened, this plaque is referred to as tartar, and tartar causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating gaps that become infected.

Other signs of gum disease include:

  • Gums that are tender, red, painful, or swollen
  • Gum recession
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
  • Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth

The process of gum disease breaks down the bone and tissue that support your teeth and keep them in place, causing the teeth to become loose. Any signs of gum disease should be checked by a dentist as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can prevent tooth loss.


Having raised levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy can affect the bones and tissues in your mouth. An oversupply of these hormones can alter the periodontium, the collection of bones and ligaments that support the teeth and keep them in place. When the periodontium is affected, one or more teeth may feel loose.

While having permanent teeth feel loose can be a terrifying experience, the changes to your periodontium levels are only temporary and will resolve after pregnancy. Even though they are not a cause for concern, anyone experiencing pain or loose teeth during pregnancy should still see a dentist so that they can evaluate your risk of gum disease and other oral health issues.

The American Dental Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that it is perfectly safe for pregnant women to have dental checkups, cleanings, and X-rays.

Teeth Grinding

Clenching the teeth while stressed or grinding your teeth at night can quickly wear down the tissues and cause the teeth to become loose. Many people are unaware of their teeth clenching or grinding habits until they result in jaw pain. A dentist may be able to detect the problem before the teeth are permanently damaged.

Signs of teeth grinding include:

  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Jaw, neck, or face pain
  • A dull headache starting in the temples
  • Sleep disruption

Seeing your dentist right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above right away. Your dentist may suggest preventative ways to correct the wear on your teeth, including wearing a nightguard to keep teeth separated and avoid further damage.

Dental Trauma

Your teeth are pretty strong and durable, but an impact of force from a car accident or a hit to the face can damage teeth and surrounding tissue. The result may be chipped or loose teeth. Anyone who suspects that an injury has damaged the teeth should see a dentist as soon as possible. Sports injuries, accidents, and falls, for example, can easily cause dental damage that you might not even be aware of until it’s too late.

When to See a Dentist

These causes can be severe – and lead to more significant problems than a shifting bite. If you notice that a permanent tooth is feeling loose, it’s time to get professional help. Hoffman Dental Care can assist in treating the underlying cause of your loose teeth and help you to take any other necessary steps to prevent further damage. If you’re experiencing loose teeth, make an emergency appointment today!