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Why Are My Father's Teeth Loose, Despite No Dental Issues?

by Dr. Joshua Davidson, Senior Dental Care Expert
March 29, 2013

Question: My 80 year old father has not had many dental issues until now. He feels like his teeth are getting loose. What could be the reason and what can be done about it?

Answer: When did your father last visit a dentist would be my first question.

Teeth are stabilized by two components: bone structure and gum tissue, but the main support is bone. There is a group of bacteria that cause “periodontal disease” and this process slowly dissolves bone and this bone loss can be visualized in x-rays. Think of a post set four feet deep in soil. If the soil is washed away little by little, that post becomes more mobile. This analogy is identical to what happens in our mouths.

Bone loss can be identified when a patient comes in for a cleaning. The bone will not grow back, but with twice yearly thorough, consistent cleanings bone loss can be stabilized and the gum tissue will tighten up and become a “collar” around the teeth providing more stability.

So back to the original question - a visit to the dentist for a thorough check up and cleaning will help identify the possible reasons for “loose teeth” and can thereby halt any further bone loss.

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Joshua Davidson is a 2011 graduate of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He simultaneously received his Masters Degree in Public Health. He currently works at the Chippewa Falls Dental Center in Chippewa Falls, WI focusing on issues of geriatric dental care.

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