Pinhole Surgical Technique
One of the many common problems encountered by dentists is gum recession. Gum recession occurs when the gums start to recede from the tooth root, thereby exposing the root. The eventual result is the loss of the tooth. The recession is normally caused by the presence of gum infection, be it gingivitis, periodontitis or advanced periodontitis. Gum recession is also as the result of aging, hence the expression “long in the tooth”. The tooth appears to grow in length as a result of the gums receding.
The conventional treatment for gum recession was grafting. Tissue is harvested from the patient themselves, normally from the palate, and a flap of skin was stitched into place over the root and allowed to heal. If the gum recession is quite severe, it could take more than a year for the entire mouth to be treated. Time must be allowed for the graft to take; and for the area of the palate where the tissue was removed to re-generate new tissue to be harvested.
Disadvantages of Conventional Treatment
- Patients complain of severe discomfit after treatment
- Long recovery period
- The presence of stitches in the mouth
- The use of scalpels and other surgical tools
- Removal of tissue from the patient’s mouth.
Pinhole Surgical Technique
Pinhole Surgical Technique was developed by a Dr John Chao, and is a revolutionary method for treating gum recession. There is no grafting and no stitching and the recovery period is far shorter and less painful. As there is no grafting and stitching the whole mouth can be treated in one session.
How does Pinhole Surgery Work?
- A tiny pinhole is created in the gum beneath the affected tooth
- Through this pinhole, special surgical tools developed by Dr Chao, are inserted into the gum
- The gum tissue is separated from the tooth and jaw and stretched to cover the exposed root
- Thin strips of resorbable collagen are then inserted, again through the pinhole, into the space beneath the stretched gum tissue
- The collagen helps to keep the skin flap in position until the skin has become re-attached to the tooth and jawbone
Limitations of the Technique
- If there has already been severe bone loss, the efficacy of the treatment might be compromised
- The patient must be free of any inflammation as a result of periodontal infection.
- The patient must be free of any underlying medical condition, such as diabetes or a heart condition, which might compromise a surgical intervention
- The patient must follow post-operative instructions carefully
Advantages of Pinhole Surgery
- Can treat as many teeth as the patient desires in one sitting
- Less time in the chair compared to conventional grafting
- Less pain and discomfit after the procedure
- Greater patient acceptance as a result of no grafting, stitching and scalpels
For those patients who are a little wary of conventional treatment for gum recession, pinhole surgery is an extremely attractive alternative. It takes less time, can treat larger areas at once and causes considerably less discomfit after the procedure. If you notice gum recession in your mouth, consult your dentist immediately to see if you are eligible for pinhole surgery.