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Loose teeth – what are the causes?

Sometimes the explanation is quite simple: If you involuntarily step over the bike handlebars and fall on your mouth, you will most likely have a few loose teeth afterwards. Hits, falls and accidents can affect the hold of the teeth in the jaw and even be responsible for tooth loss. However, by far the most common cause of loose teeth in adults is quite different.

Possible causes of loose teeth

Tooth trauma, external violence

A sudden force on the jaw can loosen teeth in their tooth socket (alveolus). This can happen as a result of an accident, a blow or even contact sports such as rugby, soccer or martial arts. Due to the force of the force, the retaining fibers (Sharpey fibers) in the tooth socket are overstretched and the tooth loosens.

Poorly fitting dentures

Dentures should be checked regularly by the dentist and relined if necessary so that they fit perfectly. If a crooked prosthesis is also attached to your own teeth, it can loosen the hold of these anchor teeth due to the poorly distributed forces of chewing.

Nocturnal teeth grinding

Many people process mental problems or stress during their sleep by clenching and grinding their teeth. Very strong forces act unconsciously, damaging the teeth and actually abrading them over time. The jaw muscles and the entire periodontium are constantly overloaded, which leads to loose teeth. In addition to psychological stress management, a special dental splint that is worn at night and protects against damage to the teeth and jaw can help.

Maxillofacial surgery

After a surgical procedure, for example a tooth extraction, the neighboring tooth can become loose. This is not uncommon and the tooth regains its support on its own. Similarly, after a root tip resection, the root tip of a tooth is removed and it loosens up a bit as a result. As part of the natural healing process, the problem usually resolves itself over time.

Jaw abscess

If the loose tooth is accompanied by symptoms such as swelling, pain and difficulty opening the mouth, an abscess in the jaw may be the cause. This is a severe inflammation in the jawbone that needs to be treated quickly by the dentist. There is a risk that the bacteria from the inflammation will spread throughout the body via the bloodstream and cause other health problems there.

Jaw necrosis

Bone necrosis can occur as a side effect of cancer radiation in the head area. This causes parts of the bone or even the entire bone to die off. This can also affect the jawbone and be responsible for loose teeth. Osteoporosis treatment that uses bisphosphonates or antibodies can also cause necrosis of the jaw. A typical feature is an exposed jawbone that does not heal over a long period of time. Pain, sensory disturbances in the lower lip or inflammation of the maxillary sinus are also among the symptoms of necrosis.

Main cause number 1: widespread disease periodontitis

The most common cause of loose teeth starts with a comparatively harmless inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Bleeding, reddened gums when brushing your teeth indicate careless dental care and can initially be brought under control with improved cleaning techniques. If this does not happen, deep gum pockets gradually form, an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. In the periodontal pockets, they can no longer be removed using conventional methods.

From there it is not far to the bony structures of the periodontium, where the jawbone is finally attacked and broken down. The gums recede more and more, exposing the sensitive necks of the teeth, and the roots of the teeth gradually lose their hold in the dwindling bone. The result is loose teeth, which in the worst case can even fall out. Periodontitis has developed, a chronic inflammation of the periodontium. Periodontitis often develops unnoticed for years because it initially causes no pain.


Loosening of the permanent teeth in the mouth is not a good sign. The first way should always be to visit the dentist and find the cause. In many cases, loose teeth can become firm again if countermeasures are taken in good time. In the case of periodontitis in particular, early and consistent intervention is necessary in order to turn diseased teeth into healthy teeth again.

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