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Management of mobile teeth

From Volume 51, Issue 5, May 2024 | Pages 348-351


Chandni Shah

BDS, MFDS RCS(Edin), MClinDent Perio, MPerio)

Specialist in Periodontics, Mount Vernon Dental Specialists, Northwood

Articles by Chandni Shah

Email Chandni Shah

Nick Claydon


Professor, Department of Restorative Dentistry, Cardiff Dental Hospital and School

Articles by Nick Claydon


Tooth mobility leads to a reduced quality of life characterized by patient discomfort, masticatory dysfunction and aesthetic concern. It may be caused by different factors that are important to identify in order to aid management, which may be non-surgical (monitoring, periodontal debridement, splinting and/or occlusal adjustment) or surgical (periodontal surgery or extractions). This article addresses the diagnostic process, aetiology and management of tooth mobility. The aim is to deliver and maintain a healthy periodontium and improve quality of life by restoring function and comfort to the patient.

CPD/Clinical Relevance: Tooth mobility is a common yet challenging problem within dentistry to identify and manage.


Tooth mobility can arise from physiological and/or pathological movement. A degree of physiological movement of teeth in health is derived from the associated periodontal ligament (PDL) attachment.1 Pathological tooth mobility is considered to be displacement of a tooth in a horizontal or vertical direction beyond the physiological limit.2

Tooth mobility carries several implications: reduced function to the patient; compromised anaesthetics; occlusal instability; difficulty with cleaning the tooth resulting in plaque accumulation;3 and discomfort, all of which contribute to a reduced quality of life.4 The rationale for addressing tooth mobility is to generate a positive impact on patient health.

There are several important factors that may influence tooth mobility. In the absence of inflammation, the factors that determine tooth mobility are predominately the total length of periodontal ligament support together with its width.2 Factors that increase the risk of a tooth becoming mobile include the number and distribution of the remaining teeth, the anatomy and health of the tooth (number of roots, root form and shape, previous root amputation, root proximity and attachment level), as well as occlusion.6

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