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Is A Loose Tooth A Dental Emergency?

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Almost all parents can summon up a story about one of their children losing a tooth. Sometimes it is through the normal childhood process of losing a baby tooth and other times the story involves a high flying ball in a softball game or a fall from a bicycle. While these stories are common for children, they are not common for adults. 

A loose tooth in an adult requires an emergency dentist visit no matter how the loose tooth happened. If you are able to get treatment within 24 hours, it increases the likelihood that your dentist will be able to save your tooth. With adults, losing a tooth is a serious issue that will require treatment to replace the tooth so it won't be followed by changes in your bite and bone loss.   

An Adult Loose Tooth

Whether your loose tooth is a result of an oral health issue or an accident, it is important to let a professional take charge of your care at an emergency dentist visit. If you try to remove a loose adult tooth, you could create more damage because part of that tooth is below the gum line with its roots attached to the jaw. 

If your tooth is knocked out, it is important to put the tooth back in the hole keeping it moist until you can see a dentist or place it in milk. This will give the dentist the opportunity to possibly save the tooth. Otherwise it will dry out and will not be salvageable. 

You may first notice a loose tooth while routinely brushing your teeth, or a hygienist may notice movement during a scheduled cleaning. Often the cause of a loose tooth for adults is gum disease. The bacteria loosens your teeth by attacking the tissue, gums and bones. In the U.S. almost half of all adults 30 years and older have some form of gum disease and for seniors the statistics are much higher. 

Many adults are not aware how important good oral hygiene is to their overall health and how much it will affect their oral health long term. When you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly and well, you will develop gum disease. Often adults think of their teeth as having nothing to do with other chronic illnesses, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, they are intertwined. In addition to poor oral hygiene, smoking and eating sugary foods and drinks may also lead to gum disease. 

Treatments For My Loose Tooth

When you go to the dentist for a loose tooth, the staff will take X-rays and the dentist will evaluate the cause and possible treatment plan for your tooth or teeth. The possible treatments considered will include: 


If your tooth is loose due to disease, the area will be cleaned in order to get rid of all of the infection around the tooth. If the infection is eradicated, sometimes the gums will plump up and tighten around the tooth. If not, a method called grafting may be performed. It is a surgical procedure designed to promote gum regrowth. 


When an adult tooth is loose due to an accident or injury, the dentist fit it with a splint to support the tooth and keep it in place while it heals. Typically an orthodontic stainless steel wire is bonded on to the loose tooth or teeth developing a type of splint which holds the teeth together and firmly in place. 

Tooth Removal

If the adult tooth cannot be saved, the dentist will opt to remove the loose tooth. This can only be safely done by a dentist. This action will be accompanied with a discussion of treatments which can be used to replace the lost tooth like a dental implant. 
The key takeaway for an adult with a loose tooth is see your dentist immediately. Give the experts the option of possibly saving your tooth. Trying to pull the tooth or deal with it yourself will only lead to more trauma and treatments at the dentist. If gum disease is the cause, you need to catch it as early as possible in order for your dentist to devise a treatment plan saving you years of pain and issues with the disease progressively worsening. As an adult, it is important for your long term oral and overall health to let a professional treat you when you have a loose tooth.