Bacteria and plaque never cease to attack our teeth and gums. Without a daily oral hygiene routine, plaque and bacteria open the door for periodontal disease, tooth decay, and even bone loss. That’s right — you can even lose the bone in your jaw from gum disease! At some point, you might have teeth that are only kept in place by your gums, no longer anchored to your jawbone. This situation is known as “floating teeth.”
If you break a bone in your arm or foot, it can be repaired. You set it in place, immobilize it for eight weeks or so, and it heals. Unfortunately, it’s not the same for your teeth. Although your dentist can help restore a dislodged tooth, it’s a little different when the bone foundation is no longer available. Since bone is living tissue, it gets replenished and repaired by the body. If you break your jawbone, it can be healed. In contrast, teeth are not actually bone, nor are they living tissue. If you put two pieces of a broken tooth next to each other, they will not reintegrate. They can be repaired with alternative means from the Placerville Dental Group, but they won’t naturally try to reattach and heal.
Also, teeth and bone are different parts of the body. They are not fused together, but they are joined by connective tissue called cementum. Like teeth, cementum is not a living tissue, but it does get replenished over time and repairs itself to a limited degree. Even so, pushing your teeth up against what bone remains will not result in a new connection. So, if that’s the case, is there any hope for fixing floating teeth?
Resolutions for Floaters
Originally used for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, recent developments allow dental splints to help with many other dental challenges, including floating teeth. Basically, a strip of processed acrylic resin connects the floating teeth to your anchored ones, providing a bridge of support. Though not precisely the same as a dental bridge, which involves artificial teeth, a dental splint works on similar principles. It keeps your original teeth in place with the support of the surrounding ones. Of course, getting a dental splint has its own set of cares and concerns.
Another surgical option is a bone graft, which involves taking bone from a different location and attaching it to the jaw. This is very similar to setting a broken bone — the graft fuses to the original jawbone, helping to fill the void and stimulating new tissue growth. Although this procedure can be invasive, it is highly sound and successful. Bone graft material may also come from donor animals, donor cadavers, or be completely synthetic.
In dentistry, EMP refers to Enamel Matrix Protein, also called Emdogain. This product promotes a predictable regeneration of hard and soft tissues. The EMP tricks the body into forming new bone and cementum, stimulating bone cells to grow and stopping processes that dissolve bone tissue. It is sometimes used in combination with bone grafts to expedite the process.
Researchers are also studying and using teriparatide, called Forteo, with the teeth and jaws. Normally, it’s a drug used to regenerate bone in patients with osteoporosis, a disease that deteriorates bones throughout the body. Using this drug for dental purposes resulted in jawbone density gains, smaller gum pockets, and increases in attachment of gum tissue. Research on this application continues.
If you have a loose tooth, or suspect your tooth is no longer connected to bone, don’t hesitate to contact the Placerville Dental Group! We carefully and professionally investigate the area and discuss all available options with you. Know that every situation is different and we offer the best treatment available. Let’s get those floating teeth anchored again!