Hi and thanks for your thoughtful postings. I was told I was a good candidate for pinhole gum surgery, but I am worried that the effects of the treatment will not be lasting. I want to treat my gum disease and recession permanently, and not have to come back over and over again.
Christopher, Atlanta, Georgia
The Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique® can permanently treat gum recession. Furthermore, it can do so without the scalpels, sutures, and gum grafts that used to be necessary. Let’s first take a look at gum disease and its treatment. Then we can examine the role of the pinhole surgical technique in permanently treating gum recession.
Gum Disease Causes Gum Recession
It’s very important to understand the underlying causes of gum recession, because without proper treatment and maintenance, it will likely come back. Until you have resolved the periodontal or gum disease that causes gum recession, it is not a good idea to treat the recession itself.
Gum or periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that can be successfully treated but not cured. It begins with irritation of the gums by plaque that has not been removed with frequent brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings. The plaque hardens into tartar, and it irritates the gums, which can lead to infections, or simply progress unnoticed until it is very advanced.
In the early stages, the gums can become inflamed or infected, and as it progresses, the inflammation spreads to the bone structures that support the teeth, leading to gum recession and bone loss. The diagram on the right shows this progression from a healthy tooth with full gum and bone support on the left to a diseased tooth on the right where the gum has receded, along with the bone.
Treating Gum Disease First
The gum disease needs to be treated first. This can usually be accomplished with non-surgical gum treatment involving scaling and root planing. This procedure will remove the pockets of inflammation and infection and prepare the teeth for regular periodontal maintenance.
Periodontal maintenance requires that you return for professional periodontal check-ups and cleanings about four times a year. In addition, you will need to be rigorous in your dental hygiene, brushing and flossing after every meal to make sure that new plaque does not accumulate into tarter and start the cycle over again.
The Role of the Pinhole Surgical Technique
Once the underlying gum disease has been successfully treated and you are maintaining your dental health with regular periodontal visits and cleanings, the pinhole surgical technique, or PST, can offer a permanent solution to your gum recession.
In contrast to traditional gum surgery, where gum grafts were taken from your soft palate and surgically implanted over the exposed tooth roots, the PST uses a small pinhole opening in the gums along with special instruments to loosen and reposition the soft tissues over the teeth. The technique is much less time consuming, it requires much less time to heal, and patients are often amazed when they see how much more attractive their smiles are.
In finding a dentist or periodontist to help you alleviate the causes and symptoms of gum disease, don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions and research different professionals. The PST is currently only taught by Dr. John Chao of California, the inventor of the technique, and your professional should be a certified pinhole technique practitioner.
Good luck to you in attaining the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve.
This Blog is brought to you by Dr. David Pumphrey of Pumphrey Periodontics in Atlanta, Georgia.