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Why Is My Gum Separating From My Back Tooth

Gum Separating From My Back Tooth

Usually, the gums fit snuggly around the tooth but if you’ve noticed that your gum is separating from your back tooth you may wonder why it’s happening.

When the gum starts to separate from the gum it’s a sign that you have gum disease, an inflammatory condition caused by bacteria in the mouth. If this gum disease is left untreated, the separation can get worse leading to tooth loss. 

The good news is that with good oral hygiene, brushing the teeth twice a day and carefully cleaning the interdental spaces combined with professional gum health treatments the disease can be stopped and the gum will reattach to the tooth. 

This post aims to explain why the gum separates from the back tooth, how to eliminate them and what you can do at home. 

How Does The Gum Separate from the Tooth

There are over 700 different species of bacteria that are residents in the mouth. They live in an invisible sticky film on our teeth and gums. 

Failure to effectively clean the teeth, either through failure to brush or poor technique, the biofilm accumulates. This is what we call plaque. Over time the plaque can become hardened by calcification and turns into tartar, which is very difficult to remove. The tartar makes cleaning the teeth more difficult and makes a nice rough surface for more bacteria to adhere to. 

When plaque is left undisturbed on the teeth, enzymes and toxins from bacteria irritate the gums, they become red, swollen and inflamed. At this early stage, periodontal disease is referred to as gingivitis. 

Gingivitis is reversible and no damage has been caused to the structures that hold the teeth in place. 

The inflamed and swollen gums can cause the gums to peel away from the teeth, creating what is referred to as pockets. Bacteria and food debris can get behind the gums, and the gap between the gum and tooth gets deeper. The longer the disease is left untreated the bigger the separation, or pockets get. 

The bacteria now have access to the periodontal ligaments (attach tooth roots to the alveolar bone) and the bone which holds the teeth in place. The ligaments become inflamed and cells of the immune system (trying to eliminate the bacteria) accidentally cause the bone to be reabsorbed (shrink back), and the bone is lost.  

At this stage the disease is called periodontitis, sadly any bone loss or damage to the ligaments is permanent. 

Separation of the gum and tooth can occur on any teeth in the mouth, but due to the location of the back teeth, they can be harder to clean so may be affected more. 

How To Reduce the Gum Separation

Gum disease is caused by inadequate oral hygiene, so the first step in treating gum disease and reducing gum separation is developing and maintaining good oral hygiene. It’s also imperative that you visit the dental clinic for professional gum health treatment, however no amount of professional cleaning will be effective unless your home regime is perfect first.

This cleaning disrupts plaque and removes the tartar giving your gums a chance to heal, recover and tighten back up, reducing the gum separation. 

Dental Treatments for Gum Disease

Depending on how advanced the periodontal disease is will determine the treatment required to mend the gums and reduce the separation.

Scaling, Debridement and Root Planing – Treatment will start with this non-surgical procedure to disrupt the plaque and remove tartar from the tooth roots and in the deep pockets. After a short period of time, you will be asked to return to see if the gums have healed and recovered. If the gum separation persists a surgical approach may be required.

Surgical Procedures – Flap reduction surgery may be required to give the dentist better access to the tooth roots, the gums are lifted up in order to remove plaque and tartar. The gums are sutured back into place in a way that the gum separation is reduced. 

If you have significant bone loss and/or gum recession you may require procedures to replace lost bone or gum tissue. 

Daily Self-Performed Care Treatments for Gum Disease

In order for dental treatments to be effective and prevent recurrence self-care treatments are required at home.  These treatments help to ensure the gum tissue remains flat against the teeth and prevent it from separating again.

Here’s how you can prevent gums from separating away from the teeth

  • Use a specially designed Gum Pocket Brush to get the best cleaning.
  • Brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day using the correct technique.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Avoid rinsing with water or mouthwash, as the fluoride is beneficial to the teeth
  • Carefully clean the interdental spaces with interdental brushes, floss or water flossers each day
  • Use an electric toothbrush as these are shown to be more effective at cleaning the teeth
  • If you have issues cleaning the area at the back of the mouth, a child’s toothbrush or a Gum Pocket Brush may be more effective in that area


In Summary, Why is My Gum Separating From My Back Tooth?

When the gums separate from the teeth it could be a sign that you have periodontal disease. The most effective way to treat and prevent periodontal disease and gum separation in combination with dental procedures is with good oral hygiene, brushing the teeth twice a day, cleaning into the pockets and cleaning the interdental spaces.  You can find out more about this here.

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