Dear Doctors: This hasn’t been a red-letter month for me health-wise. I’m sporting new eyeglasses because of macular degeneration, I need a medical for my driver’s licence renewal, and my last young dentist told me my teeth are mobile and spaces are opening up between them. I admit I didn’t listen to his explanation other than they need attention. What is Cole’s Notes version of mobile teeth and spaces? How did this occur, and what can be done about it?
Answer: Anyone of any age can have mobile (loose) teeth. Simply put, teeth are balanced, and throwing off this balance can create problems. Fix the basics first, or jeopardize your oral health. The primary issue to address is the reason your teeth are mobile, not the space created situation. We usually observe mobile teeth as a result of bone loss, which may be caused by gum disease, infection, or traumatic occlusion (imbalance) from significant bite interference. Left unsolved, the potential is continued bone loss which will eventually lead to tooth loss. We can deal with tooth loss with a number of different treatment plans, depending on the severity of it and your choice of treatment plan options. The good news is that teeth mobility can be reversed if addressed early. That is the secret; addressing your problem in a reasonable time, rather than putting it off. Just the other day a study was released stateside indicated that in the past year, 55 million Americans (who were working) put off needed dental treatment for a variety of reasons, often economic. Teeth repair costs rarely decrease by ignoring them. If teeth suffer from periodontal disease due to neglect of bacterial growth, the tissue becomes inflamed and pulls away from your teeth. Toxins can form in the space created, which leads to loss of bone and connective tissues which hold your teeth in place securely. Both regular dentists with their hygiene departments, or special ‘gum’ practitioners called periodontists – combined with a good home care regimen, can repair and avoid this problem. A process called ‘deep cleaning’ may be the recommendation. There are other causes, including high levels of progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy which may cause teeth to loosen. Osteoporosis can strike both males and females by making bones less dense and more prone to fracture. A study by the National Institute of Health discovered that women with osteoporosis are 300% more likely to suffer tooth loss than those not suffering from it. Teeth grinding may be an issue as well, especially if the bone support is compromised. It sounds like your dentist has determined the reason for your tooth mobility. We would advise you to follow their recommendations and get it under control. Good luck with your treatment.