Gingival recession, also known as receding gums, is a common problem for many people, especially senior citizens. With 88% of individuals over the age of 65 experiencing gingival recession in at least one of their teeth, it is not surprising that there are various treatment options available for gingival recession. The most common and traditional method for the treatment of gingival recession is soft-tissue grafting. However, many patients report that they fear treatment of their receding gums because of the belief that grafting is a very painful procedure and, if multiple teeth are involved, is a lengthy process that involves numerous appointments. Because of this belief and hesitance towards grafting, another technique has come into fruition: the pinhole surgical technique.
What Causes Gingival Recession?
When the gums wear down, more of the tooth is exposed, sometimes exposing the root. Receding gum tissue causes overly sensitive teeth and can, over time, result in tooth loss. Gum recession can happen for numerous reasons like genetics, excessive and/or aggressive tooth-brushing habits, or lack of proper dental care. The main cause of gum recession, however, is periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease can result in tooth loss and other health complications.
The Pinhole Surgical Technique
The Pinhole Surgical Technique is a minimally invasive way to approach the treatment of receding gums. The procedure begins with creating a pinhole-sized hole into the gum tissue of the tooth where the recession is located. Then, a special device is inserted into the hole in order to peel and stretch the gums back to their original location; this process places the gums towards the crown of the tooth affected. Once the gums are at a location that is deemed healthy and acceptable by the dentist performing the procedure, collagen strips are inserted through the pinhole to keep the gums in place (unlike stitches which are used in other forms of treatment). The collagen strips hold the gums in place while new tissue is created and aid in the overall healing process.
Pinhole Surgical Technique Advantages
The biggest advantage to opting for the Pinhole Surgical Technique is that multiple teeth can be addressed in one visit. With traditional treatments of gum recession that utilize grafting, multiple sessions are usually required if the recession is present on multiple teeth. The fact that the Pinhole Surgical Technique allows for the whole mouth to be done in one sitting is not only more convenient, but it reduces overall costs for the patient. Additionally, this technique allows for a recovery that is a lot less painful than grafting and is a faster overall procedure than grafting.
Are You a Good Candidate?
Those interested in the Pinhole Technique may wonder whether or not they are good candidates for the procedure. While your dentist will be able to give a clear answer, there are some commonalities among those treated using the Pinhole Technique. For those who are aesthetically bothered by the appearance of their gums receding, this technique is a fantastic option. Further, if you experience tooth sensitivity because of your gingival recession but do not have periodontal disease, you are an excellent candidate. Finally, those who do not smoke or are okay with quitting smoking can receive this particular treatment. Those interested in the treatment need to be in good, general health with teeth and gums that are deemed healthy by a dentist. If a tooth is infected or if the patient does not have a certain amount of gum tissue available, he or she will likely not be a good candidate for the Pinhole Technique.
Does the Procedure Last?
Despite it being relatively new in the dental world, research has shown that the Pinhole Surgical Technique is promising in regard to long-term stability. With one peer-reviewed study that followed patients over the course of nine years after they received this specific treatment for their gums, researchers found that the patients were still pleased with the outcome of the procedure. As is the case with many oral treatments designed to halt or “fix” gingival recession, a lot of the success boils down to the patient being able to comply with the post-care instructions prescribed, a regular oral maintenance routine, and by keeping up with regular dental visits.