Receding gums can cause problems for dental patients. In recent years, a new surgical technique has allowed dentists to rejuvenate receding gums with a very effective and virtually painless procedure, the pinhole surgical technique. Dr. Blake Perkins, who practices dentistry with New Image Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Vancouver, Washington, explains the pinhole technique and why it is such an improvement over gum grafting in this report.
The procedure begins with the creation of a small pinhole in the loose tissue of a patient’s gum. The hole will be above or below the teeth, Dr. Perkins explains, depending on whether the dentist is working on an upper or a lower jaw. Depending in the area being treated, the dentist may make several holes.
Once the hole is established, the dentist goes to work with dental instruments created by Dr. John Chao, who invented the technique. The dentist first uses an instrument to lift up gum tissue behind the tissue that is visible. Dr. Perkins says that the tissue is then loosened and moved down into the position where the dentist wants it. After that has been done, the dentist places a special collagen into the area to hold the gum tissue in place while everything heals. The end result is very good coverage of the teeth by the rejuvenated gums, much better than could be obtained by other techniques.
The pinhole surgical technique is very different from gum grafting, the previous technique of choice. In that procedure, a piece of tissue from a patient’s mouth, usually the palate, was cut off and then grafted to the area of the gum where it was needed to deal with a receding gum line. Dr. Perkins points out that this procedure involved putting in stitches at several spots in a patient’s mouth. The pinhole technique is a big improvement.
As good as the pinhole technique is, not every dental patient is a candidate for this procedure. Dr. Perkins explains that a patient must have healthy gums in order to get this procedure. If a patient has periodontal disease, that must be managed before the pinhole surgery can be performed. Also, the technique can only be used on the front side of the teeth. It cannot be used for gums on the palate or tongue side of a patient’s teeth.
Dr. Perkins says that the pinhole surgical technique is extremely safe. The biggest problems can be pain or swelling, and most patients can manage the problems with over the counter medications. As to the rate of success, Dr. Perkins says that in 81% of the patients in his practice who receive this procedure, the result is 100% of the desired coverage.
Dr. Blake Perkins is with New Image Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Vancouver, Washington. He is a graduate of the Case Western Reserve School of Dentistry. Dr. Perkins spent several years as an Air Force dentist and trained with specialists from all aspects of dentistry. He still serves his country through the Air National Guard. The Health & Wellness Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.