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Loose - Shifting Teeth

Lost Retainer Treatment Option
Frequently Asked Questions

Causes of Shifting Teeth

Children through Pre-Adult

Young patients, from child age to young adult, may acquire or develop symptoms of loose tooth movement due to congenital or developmental disorders, orthodontic events, physical trauma (play, sports), oral disease, or tongue thrusting.

Trauma events should be followed up with a consult to assure supportive and connective tissues are stable, as is the blood supply to the tooth or teeth in question. The common assumption that traumatized teeth will "fix themselves" (a reasonable hope factor) should be ruled in or out by a dentist.

Tongue thrusting is a "behavior pattern" that typically requires deprogramming (retraining the tongue not to thrust) that will involve some amount of time to complete successfully. Thrusting behaviors, left untreated, can cause significant movement and shifting of teeth that can become more costly to correct in later years.

Dentists who have a successful track record of treating tongue thrust disorders typically prescribe the use of a custom appliance.

Untreated orthodontic issues in young patients can cause, through malocclusion, movement of teeth of teeth that defies what Mother Nature intended. During the developmental years, sound jawbone and stable connective tissue health are paramount for eventually achieving normalized dentition.

Congenital or birth defects can cause an absence or multiple absences of normal tooth structures that can affect the upper and lower jaws differently. Orthodontists and prosthodontic specialists should be consulted in these situations to at least assure monitoring of pre-ordained events and to develop an appropriate time table to correct deficiencies sensibly so relapses, if predicted to be possible, are minimized.

Unusual circumstances that involve genetic based bone loss or tooth resorption should be monitored closely despite the likelihood that little may be done to circumvent predictable events during developmental stages.

Adolescence through through Pre-Adult

Older, pre-teenaged patients may have tooth movement or shifting issues caused by other events. Patients who have had early orthodontic treatment who have a sporadic track record of using orthodontic retainers as originally recommended by their dentists orthodontic specialists frequently complain of tooth movement and loose teeth.

Connective tissues have a "memory function" that can cause teeth to literally move back (or attempt to) their original starting positions. Recommendations for using retainers on whatever basis developed by the treating dentist or orthodontist should be followed diligently.

Many older or adult patients discover, during later years, that traditional orthodontic treatment may be required all over again due to lapses in retainer usage. Instant Orthodontics (veneer makeovers) are sometimes used to correct minor cases of shifting teeth and new diastemas.

High school aged students, who tend to have more active lifestyles than their younger and older counterparts, may have a higher incidence of sports related trauma incidents. Parents should assume nothing about impending events following a trauma event. Consults with a dentist or orthodontist can confirm that best course of intervention, if needed, or recommended time period for monitoring of the affected tooth structures.


Years and years of excessive tooth extractions can cause tooth movement or mild shifting to occur, depending on what tooth structures were removed. Adults who have no history of gum disease yet experience on-going tooth movement or loose teeth should consult their dentist to rule out, most importantly, the event of jawbone tissue loss. Carry overs of untreated orthodontic needs, failed orthondontic treatment or retainer failure problems affect adult patient populations.

Adults having poor histories of oral health maintenance that eventually cause occlusal problems (worn down teeth, worn out crowns, excessive extractions, tooth eruption, etc) can develop numerous cause and effect relationships for why teeth are moving.

Gum disease (gingivitis, severe periodontal disease) have a higher incidence rate within the older populations due to the cumulative effects of becoming older while un-diagnosed gum disease continues to develop without intervention or treatment.

Shifting and loose teeth are a natural phenomenon that results from the loss of critical jawbone stuctures and/or bone integrity.

The PerioLase Gum Laser uses a proprietary LANAP procedure that has been shown to be very effective in treating advanced stages of gum disease and is credited significant control over tissue and tooth loss. Is is the ONLY FDA approved laser shown to be predictably effective.

Ironically, the defense systems provided to us individually through Mother Nature become the destructive agents that destroy jawbone, connective tissue, tooth roots and gingiva (gums) while our natural immune systems battle with the presence of bacterial infection.

Inflammed or puffy gums are followed by gross appearance of bacterial build up (plaque, oozing pus). Tissue destruction continues, causing loss of gum tissue and eventual decline of connective tissue health.

The condition of shifting or loose teeth accruing to the gross neglect or perfered delay of periodontal treatment is typically a hallmark of adult gum disease which may result in treatment recommendations most patients don't want to hear (total extractions, fixed bridge or denture replacements).

Serious Indicators

The shifting or perception of loose teeth is a primary indication of something going wrong or something unhealthy within a person's dentition. Pre-adult and adult populations typically only have one chance to respond intelligently.

Delays, although almost being impossible to control for most of us, should be evaluated closely with your dentist, orthodontist or peridontist to assure that timely treatments can be administered to at least control what many adults are forced to deal with: Total extractions and total tooth replacement (for one or both jaws).

Editorial Staff
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