Wobbly Teeth In Children And Adults

Why teeth become loose and where it requires professional advice.

Dr Samuel Ofori-AttahMost of us can probably remember having a wobbly tooth or two when we were younger. Some of us may even be unfortunate enough to remember the traumatic experience of a parent tying all sorts of ways to remove them? We will discuss why you shouldn’t do this a little later on in this blog, but first, let’s take a look at what causes wobbly teeth both in children and adults, and the potential consequences.

Children and wobbly teeth

Our patients who are parents of young children may already have experienced their child having a wobbly tooth. This is usually nothing to be concerned about and is quite natural as their first teeth will eventually fall out so that their adult teeth can erupt in their place. The temporary nature of the first teeth can, unfortunately, cause some parents to pay less attention to them as they will come out anyway. Even though these are temporary teeth, it is still important to make sure that your child cleans them well, and also the gums. Anyone who has had a severe toothache would not want to put their child through that, and, although temporary, these teeth still play an important role.

The first teeth, or milk or baby teeth as they are sometimes known, enable a young child to progress from soft foods to a more normal diet. If the teeth are not looked after and have to be extracted, this can cause problems in this transitional stage that could have long lasting effects. In addition to this, confidence and speech development can also be affected and can cause problems during a child’s developmental years.

Just a word of caution here; if your child has a wobbly tooth, even if it has been ‘hanging on’ for a little while, please don’t forcefully try to pull it out by the ‘door handle’ or any similar technique. Gentle and gradual pressing on it with the tongue should see it soon fall out. If you have one that is particularly problematic, please contact our Ipswich dental team for advice. Using a more forceful method may cause not only discomfort to the child but also possible damage to the gum tissue.

Try to keep your children’s teeth healthy and make sure that they brush them well, ideally supervised by yourself or another responsible adult.

Loose teeth in adults

Once your adult teeth have erupted, wobbly or loose teeth should be a thing of the past. If you do find that you have a tooth that is affected in this way, then you have a problem that needs investigating by a dentist.

If an adult has a loose tooth, it is usually caused by one of two things; trauma or gum disease.

Facial trauma

If you have received a blow to the face, such as from contact sports or even a fall, the most important thing that you should do, loose teeth or not, is to be checked by a medical professional for any head trauma. This will usually mean a visit to your A&E department. Once you have done this and if you have been given the all clear, then you should contact your dentist for an emergency appointment if any of your teeth have become loose.

A loose tooth in this situation may be caused by the tooth being broken off beneath the gum line. Perhaps more likely though is that there is damage to the bone that holds it in place. You are likely to need an x-ray to determine this and, following this, your dentist will be able to advise the most appropriate course of action and treatment available. If you have loose teeth but have not suffered any facial trauma, the chances are that you may have advanced gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Whilst early stage gum disease (also known as gingivitis) can be unpleasant and cause problems such as sore gums and bad breath, periodontitis can lead to bigger problems, including tooth loss.

Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis affects the tooth and surrounding structure that lies beneath the gums. It can affect the bone that holds the tooth in place. When this bone starts to degrade, the tooth is likely to become less stable and may become loose and wobbly. Without intervention (and even sometimes with), the tooth may even fall out.

The only treatment available to potentially save a tooth when affected in this way is to perform a ‘deep clean’. This has to be done by a suitably qualified specialist dentist and involves invasive treatment below the gum line so that bacteria can be removed from this area. If successful, the bone should gradually regenerate but this is not always guaranteed. It is far better to take action to prevent this from happening in the first place with good home oral care and regular check ups with one of our Foxhall Dental Practice team.

We are still awaiting news on when we may be able to open again. Hopefully, the time is getting nearer! In the meantime, please remember that we are only able to provide urgent emergency dental advice and can be contacted on 01473 258396 should you need assistance. Please take care and we hope to be able to serve you again soon.