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Ask Dr. George McKee Your Own Question
Dr. George McKee
Dr. George McKee, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 1396
Experience:  Licensed dentist with 30 years clinical experience in general practice and cosmetic reconstruction.
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My tooth feels loose

Customer Question

My adult tooth feels loose, but not that loose.

It doesn't seem to be getting looser, but cannot stop thinking about it.

What do I do? Will the tooth stay in and not get any looser, because it is a permanent tooth? Or should I tell my dentist at my next appointment? I'm worried.

Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dental
Expert:  Dr. George McKee replied 9 years ago.

The most common reason for a loose tooth in an adult is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a chronic, low grade infection of the gums surrounding the teeth. It is caused by bacterial plaque which lives in your mouth and attaches to the surface of the teeth both above and below the gum. If enough plaque accumulates under the gum, and remains for enough time, an infection will start. This infection starts in the small spaces between your teeth and gums. The gums react to this process by swelling up and loosening their grip around the individual teeth. This loosening opens up deeper spaces between the gum and tooth allowing for more debris, plaque and food to work their way into the spaces. As the disease progresses, it slowly dissolves the bone around your teeth and, as it shrinks away, the gums may follow. Many times, the patient is unaware of this disease because there is no pain involved until it gets to a more advanced stage. Other symptoms of periodontal disease are bleeding gums (when brushing, or spontaneously), bad breath and receding gums. Many times, by the time an individual notices these symptoms, the disease has been active for quite some time, even years. Periodontal disease can be treated and many of the symptoms can be reversed. You need to tell you dentist about this this week and he might want to see you before your next scheduled appointment. He will diagnosis the severity of your condition and recommend treatment. Many times this disease can be treated with a thorough dental cleaning and root debridement. Once the plaque, infection and inflammatory toxins are removed from between your teeth and gums, the looseness should improve, if not resolve completely. Keep in mind that periodontal disease can not be cured; only treated. After the initial treatment from you dentist, you will need to return a few times a year to him/her for regular dental cleanings. This will keep the disease at bay and prevent it from escalating to the degree that causes bone loss and tooth looseness.

Other reasons you tooth might be loose are grinding of the teeth during the day or night or the pressure from dental abscess under the tooth (but this is normally quite painful) As mentioned before you should call you dentist tomorrow and make an appointment to diagnose the problem. I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any concerns that I have not addressed regarding this matter, please let me know and I will get back to you with more information.

Dr. George McKee and 2 other Dental Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Is it ok if I cannot make an appointment with my dentist earlier than expected? In other words, is it ok to wait until my next yearly check up?
Expert:  Dr. George McKee replied 9 years ago.

That depends on how many months it will be before your next check-up. Although the periodontal disease process tends to advance rather slowly, it can have acute flare ups that cause relatively rapid bone loss in a short time period. The longer you wait, the worse this will get. Your best means to keep this from getting worse before returning to the dentist is to become diligent with your daily brushing and flossing. I wouldn't wait more than three months to have this checked. I hope this helps.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I'll brush very well after EVERY meal.
Expert:  Dr. George McKee replied 9 years ago.

That's great! Make sure you also get the area between the teeth as well, as that is where periodontal disease gets started. If you don't already do so, you can use dental floss, or even a toothpick. The goal is to stir up the plaque that the brush doesn't reach. That's why I underlined the word "and" in my previous post as most people do good with the brush, and not so good with the floss. The cleaner you can keep this area, the slower the disease progresses. If you are already cleaning the spaces in between the teeth daily, then I would suggest you see your dentist about this sooner than 3 months.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.

Thanks! You have been a great help!

Expert:  Dr. George McKee replied 9 years ago.

Your welcome and I wish you well.