- If the teeth have lost more than 40% of the supporting alveolar bone around them, a diagnosis of “severe” periodontal disease is made.
- Most often, teeth that are loose (mobile) enough to require splinting have that diagnosis.
- However, if the tooth roots are abnormally short or thin, or if the bone around them is not particularly dense, the teeth may be loose when less than 40% of the volume has been lost.
- Your dentist can tell you if your teeth are loose enough to require periodontal stabilization splints.
- Another factor that comes into play is the status of the periodontal disease.
- If you have active disease, and the bone around the teeth is softened from inflammation, simply bringing the disease under control through other types of periodontal disease management can make the teeth less mobile.
- Reducing tooth mobility makes the teeth more efficient at chewing.
- Splinting the teeth together reduces the forces that are placed on individual teeth, which can slow the damage to the already weakened periodontal ligaments and alveolar bone. By way of comparison, think how much easier it is to push back and forth on a single fence post and loosen it than it is to loosen that same post when it is attached to other posts as part of a fence.
- Stabilization splints can delay tooth loss indefinitely, while helping to spare the bone around the remaining teeth.
- Connecting the teeth helps to prevent bite collapse. Essentially, when teeth become loose, chewing forces can cause them to tip toward the cheeks or otherwise shift in the jaw (pathologic migration). When this happens, the patient’s jaws rotate closer together than normal, the chewing muscles shorten, the lower face changes shape, and the jaw joints may develop pain.
What if I do nothing?
- Not stabilizing loose teeth can cause them to be lost earlier than splinted teeth.
- Not stabilizing loose teeth can cause bite collapse, and all of the potential negative consequences of that condition.