You’re biting into a shiny, red apple, straight off the tree. Nothing could be better than that sweet, fresh taste and satisfying crunch… until you feel a sudden pain in your gum and realize you now have a loose tooth.
Now, assuming you’re not an adolescent, this isn’t a routine occurrence. It’s not something to just shrug off. In fact, there are no less than three important points you need to understand about loose teeth if you want to maintain good oral health:
It’s not normal
The first important point to note is that it’s never normal or natural for adult teeth to become loose. Once your adult teeth grow in (no later than age 13 for most people) they’re intended to be a permanent fixture in your mouth. Assuming your teeth aren’t disintegrating from decay and you’re not suffering with advanced periodontal disease, your teeth can and should continue to be strong and solid as you age.
It can be a serious issue
There’s no need to immediately start panicking if you notice one of your teeth is loose, but it’s also not something you want to ignore. That’s because loose teeth (that haven’t been damaged by some sort of trauma) are generally a sign of one or more conditions that need accurate diagnosis and treatment before they progress any further. The possibilities include:
- Advanced tooth decay
- Advanced gum disease
- A bacterial infection in the gums
- Oral or bone cancer
Before you worry, it’s important to note that less serious issues can also be the cause of loose teeth in certain circumstances. For instance, bite misalignment and other alignment issues that are normally treated with orthodontics can weaken a tooth or leave it more vulnerable to damage than others. This may, at times, result in that tooth becoming loose.
This cloud does have a silver lining, however. All of the potential causes of loose teeth listed above are treatable and, often, the tooth can be saved as well. Even in cases where the tooth itself must be removed, there are many options available for tooth replacement once the underlying cause of the loose tooth has been identified and successfully treated.
One of the best ways to prevent loose teeth is to maintain your regular semiannual dental exam schedule. While cleaning and inspecting your teeth and gums, your dentist or hygienist will be able to spot evidence of the above ailments long before it progresses to the point of making your teeth loose.
If cost is a concern, join a dental discount plan so you can keep up with a regular schedule of general dental visits and save on dental care. And, if you find one or more of your teeth are unexplainably loose, don’t hesitate to call your dentist and make an appointment for an exam as soon as possible.