A loose tooth in a child usually shows an exciting rite of passage. Once a person reaches adolescence, however, a detached tooth is no longer a normal occurrence.

Adults can be concerned when they notice loose teeth. Adult teeth are permanent and designed to last a lifelong.

Some causes of loose teeth in adults are harmless. Others need the help of a dentist to save the tooth, remove it, or replace it with an implant or bridge.

What are Loose Teeth?

Loose teeth are typical of children. They have milky teeth that are gradually replacing permanent teeth. But loose teeth in adults are a matter of concern. This can be a sign of an underlying disease or poor dental health. Before the loose tooth creates a major problem, it needs to be taken care of soon. When adults face a loose tooth problem, they usually show signs such as:

  • Redness around the gums
  • Tooth or gum pain
  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gum recession, etc.

Also, these signs can show dental disease, so it is necessary to consult a doctor for the same. Evaluating the cause will help your doctor to treat it appropriately.


The following factors are often responsible for loosening one or more teeth:

Gum disease

  • Gum disease is also known as periodontitis, this disease involves inflammation and infection of the gums. It is generally caused by poor dental hygiene habits.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States reports that half of the adults in the country aged 30 or older have gum disease.
  • When brushing and flossing, do not remove the plaque, gum disease may develop. Dental plaque contains bacteria. It sticks to the teeth and hardens over time until only a dental professional can remove it.
  • Hardened plaque, known as tartar, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating spaces that can become infected.
  • Over time, this process can break down the bones and tissues that support the teeth, causing the teeth to sag.
  • Other signs of gum disease include:
    • tender, red, sore, or swollen gums
    • bleeding gums when brushing your teeth
    • gum recession
    • changes in the way teeth fit together
  • Any sign of gum disease should be checked out by a dentist as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can prevent tooth loss.


  • High levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy can affect the bones and tissues of the mouth.
  • Having more of these hormones can affect the periodontium, which is the collection of bones and ligaments that support teeth and keep them in place. When the periodontium is affected, one or more teeth may appear loose.
  • Changes in this part of the body will resolve after pregnancy and are not of concern. However, anyone with pain or loose teeth during pregnancy should see a dentist to rule out gum disease and other oral health issues.
  • According to the American Dental Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it is safe for pregnant women to have dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays.
  • Due to a potential link between gum disease and premature birth, pregnant women are encouraged to see a dentist regularly.

Tooth Injury

  • Healthy teeth are strong, but an impact from a blow to the face or a car accident, for example, can damage the teeth and surrounding tissue. The result can be chipped or loose teeth.
  • Likewise, clenching your teeth during times of stress or grinding them at night can wear down tissue and loosen teeth.
  • Many people are unaware of their clenching or squeaking habits until it results in jaw pain. A dentist may be able to spot the problem before the teeth are permanently damaged.
  • Anyone who suspects that an injury has damaged their teeth should see a dentist as soon as possible. Sports injuries, accidents, and falls, for example, can cause dental damage.


  • Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones and makes them porous. As a result, even minor shocks and impacts can lead to fractures.
  • Although osteoporosis typically affects the spine, hips, and wrists, it can also damage the jaw bones that support the teeth.
  • If the jaw bones become less dense, the teeth can loosen and fall out. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States also reports a possible link between bone loss and an increased risk of gum disease.
  • Some medications used to treat osteoporosis can cause dental health problems, although this is rare. In rare cases, medicines called bisphosphonates, which help treat bone loss, can lead to loose teeth. This is called osteonecrosis of the jaw.
  • The authors of one study suggest that osteonecrosis rarely occurs in people who take bisphosphonates in pill form, but the disease can develop in people who receive the drug intravenously.
  • Trauma and surgical procedures, such as tooth extraction, can also cause osteonecrosis.


To determine if you have periodontitis and its severity, your dentist may:

  • Review your medical history to identify factors that might be contributing to your symptoms, such as smoking or taking certain medications that cause dry mouth.
  • Examine your mouth for plaque and tartar buildup and see if the bleeding is easy.
  • Measure the depth of the pocket between your gums and your teeth by placing a dental probe next to your tooth below your gum line, usually in several places in your mouth. In a healthy mouth, the pocket depth is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters. Pockets deeper than 4mm may indicate periodontitis. Pockets deeper than 5mm cannot be cleaned well.
  • Take dental x-rays to check for bone loss in areas where your dentist sees deeper pocket depths.

Your dentist can assign a stage and grade to periodontitis based on the severity of the disease, the complexity of the treatment, your risk factors, and your condition.


It is of the utmost importance to stop the progression of periodontal disease before it further damages the gum and jaw tissue. The dentist will first assess the entire mouth to make sure that the disease is progressing. Once a diagnosis has been made, the dentist may treat the bacterial infection with antibiotics in conjunction with nonsurgical or surgical treatment or both.

In the case of moderate periodontal disease, under the gum of the teeth will be completely cleared of debris using a procedure called scaling and root planing. The bags can be filled with antibiotics to promote proper healing and kill any bacteria that remain.

Severe periodontitis can be treated in several different ways, such as:

Tissue and bone grafting

When a considerable amount of bone or gum tissue has been destroyed, the dentist may choose to transplant new tissue by inserting a membrane to stimulate tissue growth.

Bone surgery

The dentist may choose to perform “flap surgery” to directly reduce the size of the gum pockets.


A loose tooth can progress and eventually become completely detached from the gums and bones. This can happen with severe gum disease or unresolved teeth grinding. Treatment, however, can improve the health of your gums and bones. It also promotes healing and strengthens teeth.

In case of severe loosening, your doctor may suggest removing the tooth and replacing it with a dental implant or bridge.

A loose tooth caused by trauma may not be preventable. You can reduce the risk of trauma by wearing mouthguards when playing sports.

Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent a loose tooth caused by gum disease. This includes brushing your teeth at least two or three times a day and flossing every day. You should also schedule regular dental cleanings twice a year and see your dentist if you notice any changes, such as bad breath, sore gums, or bleeding gums.



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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can a loose tooth be saved?

Periodontal disease can cause teeth to loosen in their sockets. Grinding of teeth (bruxism) can lead to tooth displacement. And traumatic injuries from contact sports or accidental falls can loosen or even knock out teeth. The good news is that loose teeth can almost always be saved if treated in time.

2. At what age do adults start losing teeth?

By age 50, Americans have lost an average of 12 teeth (including wisdom teeth). And among adults aged 65 to 74, 26% have lost all of their teeth. Anyone who is missing one or more teeth due to injury, disease or tooth decay may be a candidate for dental implants.

3. Is a loose tooth a dental emergency?

A detached tooth is a serious dental emergency and should not be taken lightly. In most cases, try to get treatment within 12-24 hours.