Dental mobility: types and causes

Table of Contents

Sometimes, people feel that one or more teeth are loose or shifting. In general, dental mobility is caused by accidents, periodontal diseases and even by prolonged stress situations, in which patients excessively clench their jaws (bruxism). However, with proper treatment, it’s possible to stop the teeth’s mobility and prevent them from falling out.

What is dental mobility?

Dental mobility is the teeth’s movement horizontally and/or vertically. In general, there are two types of mobility: physiological and pathological.

Physiological mobility is a natural movement and is normal to a certain degree. It affects single-rooted anterior teeth to a greater extent and is less common in multi-rooted posterior teeth. Therefore, it’s more common in the teeth than in the molars.

On the other hand, pathological mobility is when the teeth’s movement exceeds the normal limit. It’s a sign of the degree of periodontal destruction caused by gum infections by bacteria that live in plaque.

These infections destroy support and stability structures, such as ligaments and alveolar bones.

It’s important to note that dental mobility is often painless, but this doesn’t mean that the patient shouldn’t visit the dentist for timely treatment.

If, in addition to mobility, the gums look inflamed, red, there is bleeding, bad breath or abscess formation, it’s important to visit a specialist immediately.

Degrees of dental mobility

  • Grade 0. There’s only a physiological mobility or absence of detectable movement.
  • Grade I. There’s a pathological horizontal movement of 0.2 to 1 mm
  • Grade II. There’s a pathological horizontal movement of more than 1 mm.
  • Grade III. There’s a pathological horizontal and vertical movement of the piece. That is, the tooth moves from front to back, from right to left and from top to bottom.

Dental mobility in grade 0, I and II can be stabilized relatively easily, but from grade III the solutions are more complex and radical.

Causes of Tooth mobility

  • Poor oral hygiene. Not brushing your teeth correctly causes the bacterial plaque to not be completely removed, hardens and forms tartar that is not removed only with the brush and dental floss. Professional cleaning is needed to prevent further destruction of supporting structures or the development of an infection that requires a root canal or tooth extraction.
  • Bad dental position. Inadequate alignment causes malocclusion, which makes dental hygiene difficult and, in addition to the appearance of cavities, can prematurely wear teeth. Orthodontic treatment is recommended to align teeth, allow for proper brushing, and reduce the chances of periodontal disease.
  • Nocturnal bruxism. Unconsciously grinding your teeth, in addition to wearing them down, can cause them to begin to loosen. For this reason, it is essential to visit the dentist in case of pain in the teeth, neck and jaw when waking up.
  • Dental absences. Patients who have already lost a tooth and do not use a bridge, crown or dental implant, are at greater risk of the remaining teeth’s mobility. Pieces close to the missing ones will seek to align and may begin to loosen, resulting in mobility. Dentures are an alternative to replace several lost teeth; however, it is advisable to visit the dentist before reaching that point and preventing the loss of one or more teeth.

Causes of dental mobility and risks

  • Traumatic injuries. Receiving a frontal impact because of a fall or collision can cause tooth mobility or the teeth’s fracture.
  • Systemic diseases. Conditions such as diabetes, cancer, AIDS, as well as their treatments can result in teeth mobility.
  • Gum disease. Gingivitis or inflammation of the tissues surrounding the tooth is caused by bacterial plaque; it’s reversible through conventional or surgical treatments (gingivectomy or gingivoplasty) before it evolves to periodontitis.
  • Periodontal diseases. Also called periodontitis, it’s the advanced stage of gum disease, which causes mobility and tooth loss in adults. The teeth will look longer due to gum and bone retraction.
  • Bone disease. Osteoporosis is a disease that decreases bone density, increasing its fragility. This condition can affect the teeth since it reduces the bone mass of the maxilla. It, especially, affects the alveolar bone and, therefore, the bone where the teeth are inserted is reabsorbed.
  • Menopause. Menopause is directly related to osteoporosis since the decrease in estrogen has a direct impact on the mineral reduction of bones and teeth.
  • Pregnancy hormones. The hormonal alteration that occurs during pregnancy can affect the gum’s supporting tissues and mucosa. In addition, the vomiting caused by the increase in gonadotropin hormone during the first trimester and the decrease in brushing associated with nausea, can cause an increase in bacterial plaque deposits. All of this is related to inflammation and bleeding of the gums, beginnings of periodontal disease and a benign tumor known as granuloma of pregnancy, and light or physiological mobility.

Symptoms of dental mobility, how can I detect them?

In the first grades (0 and I), dental mobility isn’t visible to other people, and it’s even likely that it goes unnoticed by the patient. In grade II and III mobility, the following signs are usually present:

  • Redness of the gum around the affected tooth.
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Discomfort or pain in the tooth, even without chewing.
  • Sensitive or sore gums
  • The affected tooth appears longer than normal.

Treatments for dental mobility

The treatment for dental mobility depends on its causes and the degree in which it is found.

  • Grade 0 to I. In case of mobility caused by an incorrect occlusion, orthodontic treatment can improve the teeth’s health. If mobility occurs during pregnancy, professional cleaning, improving brushing technique, mouth rinsing and flossing are of great help to maintain oral health and hygiene. Additionally, prenatal vitamins often include calcium and vitamin D to strengthen bones.
  • Grade II. Gingivitis or gums inflammation can be treated with a professional dental cleaning and the rehabilitation of teeth affected by caries.
  • Grade III. If the teeth move in all directions, it means that the damage is severe and that tooth extraction and replacement with a dental implant, bridge, or fixed or removable prosthesis is most likely.

How to avoid tooth mobility?

How to prevent dental mobility?

Proper hygiene is the best way to prevent mobility and tooth loss. General recommendations are:

  • Brush your teeth three times a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Floss once a day, every day.
  • Use mouthwash once or twice a day.
  • Go for a dental check-up at least once a year.
  • Rehabilitate the pieces affected by caries and replace fillings.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes.

Visit our dentist in Tijuana at least once a year to avoid this and other conditions. If you are looking for a dental clinic in Tijuana, The Dental District is your best option. With us, you will find specialists who will help you recover your oral health for an attractive smile. Ask about our best services such as invisalign in Tijuana, root canal in Mexico, dental implants in Mexico and dental crowns in Tijuana.

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