Dealing with a Loose Permanent Tooth: What You Need to Know


A permanent tooth is loose - What do you do?

Do you pull it out? Do you let it fix itself? Should you brush it?

If you’ve noticed that a permanent tooth is loose, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Loose teeth can be caused by several different issues, and the sooner you get to the bottom of the problem, the better. In this blog post, we’ll cover the possible causes of loose teeth in adults as well as the available loose teeth treatment. Read on to find out more.

What Should I do if my permanent tooth is loose?

My permanent tooth is wiggling. Is that normal?

Permanent teeth are slightly pliable, meaning they can just barely wiggle, around 1 millimeter. Any more is usually a problem.

Can a loose permanent tooth tighten back up?

Not by itself*

*The asterisk: If a tooth is loose but still attached, it can naturally restore itself if the damage is very minimal. However, if it is noticeably wiggling, you should schedule a dentist appointment as soon as possible, especially if it’s causing pain and discomfort. 

Why is my tooth loose but still attached? What do I do?

A tooth is loose but still attached? Adult teeth are meant to be permanent. So, loose teeth in adults are usually indicative of an underlying issue. As for what to do: schedule a dentist appointment. Luckily, Perfect Smiles Dental in Danville, VA operates as an emergency dental clinic. If you’re experiencing pain, don’t wait. We can often resolve dental emergencies within the same day. [Emergency Call]

Should I brush a loose tooth?

This is the only time you’ll hear a dentist say you should not brush or floss. You shouldn’t brush or floss the loose tooth, but you should carefully brush around it. Brushing or flossing a damaged tooth can exacerbate the issue, but so will poor oral hygiene. We recommend swishing and rinsing with warm salt water and consider using mouthwash. 

What causes a loose permanent tooth?

Gum disease:

Gum disease is much more common than you may think. According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47% of adults 30 years and older have some form of gum disease. It does not always result in loose teeth. There are normally other symptoms, such as sensitive teeth and painful chewing. 

Are your gums red or swollen? Are they tender or bleeding often? They may signify gum disease, but you won’t know for certain until a dentist makes a diagnosis for you.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease results from poor oral hygiene; it happens slowly and compounds over time. Essentially, it is an infection that starts with inflammation. This stage is called gingivitis. As it progresses, the gums recede, exposing the roots of the teeth. The infection flourishes within these pockets, damaging the roots and resorbing the bone causing your teeth to loosen. This more severe stage is called periodontitis

How to treat gum disease?

Trust Perfect Smiles Dental in Danville, VA to treat your gum disease. We understand that  dentistry can be unpleasant and costly in time, money, and effort. We turn dentistry into a priceless investment that pays out with a perfect smile. We take the time to listen and understand your unique situation so we can provide the right treatment for you. 

Depending on the severity of your gum disease, we might prescribe oral antibiotics, antiseptic mouthwash, or a deep clean. However, if your condition is extreme enough, it might warrant surgical options and referral to specialists.. Surgery can be scary, but we’re here to solve all of your dental problems without compromising your comfort. 

Depending on your case of gum disease, your options will be:

  • Flap surgery
  • Bone Grafts
  • Soft tissue grafts
  • Guided Tissue regeneration


We’ve all seen it in movies; someone takes a punch resulting in a chipped, broken, or loose tooth. Physical trauma can damage the roots, the ligaments securing the tooth, or even the jaw bone. If a part or all of your tooth comes out, you should store it in milk. Milk will keep the cells alive for a few hours. Within that time, you should seek emergency dental services to reattach the tooth. However, if you can’t save the tooth, don’t worry. Perfect Smiles Dental provides a wide range of cosmetic dentistry to keep your smile perfect. 

Teeth Grinding (bruxism):

Teeth Grinding (bruxism) puts unnecessary stress on your teeth. If your teeth feel tight as well as loose, that is a symptom of bruxism. Luckily that is commonly treated with a night guard to protect your teeth as you sleep.


Osteoporosis is a bone disease that decreases bone density and mass. It weakens the bones so they are easier to break or fracture. If a tooth has gradually gotten loose, it might be a sign that your jawbone is weakening. Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because it progresses unnoticed. A dentist can help tighten your teeth, most likely with a tooth splint. However, osteoporosis should be addressed by a physician.

Hormonal changes:

Hormonal changes such as those during pregnancy or menopause can affect your overall health. One of those effects might be the loosening of teeth’s ligaments or the weakening of the jaw bones. Pregnancy will not cause your teeth to fall out. After a pregnancy, hormones normally regulate themselves, and your teeth will heal. You can seek treatment during the pregnancy to relieve that discomfort. However, if problems persist after pregnancy, you should seek a dental consultation. If you are experiencing loose teeth during menopause, you should also seek treatment as that might call for long-term treatment such as medication.


Some medications can affect your bone metabolism— the natural cycle of bone growth and restoration— leading to decreased bone health. Of course, the adverse side effects of otherwise beneficial medication vary from person to person. Combinations of certain medications can also exacerbate each other’s issues. In short, communicate all your medication to your dentist.

Treatment options

Tooth Splinting:

The most common way dentists tighten a loose adult tooth is through tooth splinting. Essentially, a thin wire is attached on the inside, which connects the moving tooth with its stable neighbors. The teeth reinforce each other and are stronger as a unit. By stabilizing the moving tooth, you facilitate its natural healing.

Teeth Implants:

What if that loose adult tooth becomes a lost adult tooth? Unfortunately, the tooth fairy doesn’t cover that. But we at Perfect Smiles Dental do! We can restore your smile with a dental implant, essentially an artificial tooth surgically implanted. 

Miscellaneous questions:

How long does a loose tooth take to fall out in adults?

Depending on the severity, it can take a few weeks to a few months for a wiggly adult tooth to fall out. However, it is normally a painful experience. So you should seek dental treatment sooner rather than later.

Can I pull out my own tooth?

You shouldn’t. If it’s damaged or infected, you’ll only worsen the problem and your discomfort. Leave tooth extraction to the dental professionals.

Shouldn't I want a wisdom tooth loose so it's easier to remove?

Most people have their wisdom teeth removed for good reasons. However, those reasons are usually related to overcrowding. Any tooth can become loose because of the causes above. You could have either a loose back tooth or a front tooth loose.


We hope we’ve answered all of your questions about why a permanent tooth is loose. And what to do when a tooth is loose but still attached. When it comes to how to tighten a loose tooth, leave it to the professionals. We at Perfect Smiles Dental look forward to restoring your smile and your confidence. 

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