A few years ago, I realized that I was thinking about dental care all wrong. Instead of listening carefully to my dentist and making the necessary changes, I assumed that he was ultimately responsible for making sure that my teeth stayed healthy. Unfortunately, I developed a few serious cavities because I failed to properly brush and floss my teeth, and I knew that it was my fault. I decided to start taking notes at my dental checkups and carefully abiding by the dentist's orders. The difference was almost miraculous. This blog is all about working with your dentist to improve your result.
Tooth decay is progressive and generally slow-acting. The amount of structural damage that the tooth experiences becomes more severe as time goes by. What could have been corrected with a simple dental filling in the early stages could ultimately lead to the loss of the tooth if treatment isn't sought. But even in cases of advanced periodontal disease when the tooth becomes loose, a dentist may still be able to secure it.
Diet and Bacteria
Tooth decay typically begins on the tooth's outer surface (its enamel). Broadly speaking, this decay originates with the corrosive elements of your diet, coupled with cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria. The bacterial element will begin to affect your gums, along with the tooth's support structures (socket and ligaments). Ultimately, the tooth's connection with the bone becomes compromised. The tooth will become loose in its socket. Without immediate treatment, the tooth will be a casualty of gum disease.
Scale and Polish
Provided your oral tissues are able to heal and regenerate, a loose tooth can be secured—with some help from your dentist. It might sound like advanced treatment, but tooth splinting is widely used in general dentistry. Your teeth will first be professionally scaled and polished to remove the accumulated plaque and tartar (which is a bacterial biofilm) from your teeth. Removing this buildup allows your immune system to manage the infection. If your periodontal infection is a significant one, you may also need antibiotics.
Splinting and Securing
As the infection subsides from your tooth socket and periodontal ligaments, a loose tooth should securely anchor itself once again. It needs assistance though. After scaling and polishing your teeth, your dentist will splint the tooth. This involves attaching it to its neighbors on either side. The process uses a flexible plastic splint that will be attached to the rear (lingual or palatal surface) of the tooth. It should be more or less invisible. Instead of a single tooth, the conjoined teeth become like a dental bridge—multiple teeth sharing the same support structure.
Healing and Splint Removal
After sufficient healing time, your dentist will schedule a new appointment to remove the splint. Your damaged tooth will have regained its anchor strength, but the corrosive effects of decay may need additional treatment. Your damaged tooth enamel may need to be restored with a dental filling or a dental crown.
Even when periodontal disease has progressed to the point that a permanent tooth has become loose, a dentist can help. The tooth could be close to the end, but even late intervention may be able to save it.
Contact a general dentistry practitioner for more information.