Have you recently looked in the mirror and noticed that your gum line is fading and exposing the roots of your teeth? Have you flicked your tongue against the back of a tooth and felt the ridged surface of a root? Then you have gingival recession, also known as receding gums.
The condition is the result of diminished gum tissue and/or retraction of the gingival margin from the crown of the teeth. Receding gums are fairly common in adults aged 40 and over, but the loss of gum tissue can begin in your early teenage years and is advanced due to poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease. That being said, even those who practice good oral hygiene can fall victim to the condition due to inherited factors (i.e. tooth position and gum thickness) and/or the physical wear and tear that comes from vigorous brushing or through the use of a hard bristled toothbrush. Whichever the case, gum recession needs to be nipped in the bud before the condition worsens and negatively impacts your appearance while increasing the risk of sensitivity (to foods and beverages) and tooth loss.
A quick online search for gum recession treatment will uncover a technique called gum grafting. The name alone incites trepidation, and understandably so because to the uninitiated, gum grafting doesn’t exactly sound all that pleasant. There are varying gum grafting procedures. For one, there are connective-tissue grafts, the most common method of the lot where tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth and subsequently stitched over the area of exposed root. Then there are free gingival grafts which are similar to the former, although the tissue is taken directly from the palate. Lastly, there are pedicle grafts which task the tissue adjacent to the tooth in need of gum repair. While when done with the expert touch of an oral and gum surgery specialist gum grafting goes without a hitch, there is a preferred and modern alternative that will alleviate your concerns about a gingival graft – the pinhole surgical technique (PST).
PST is a procedure that involves the use of specialized instruments to make a small hole in your receding gum and add collagen to stabilize the area of gingival recession. You can view more about the specifics of the technique here, but below, we dig deeper in the the direct benefits of PST.
4 Benefits of Pinhole Surgical Technique as an Alternative to Gum Grafting to Treat Receding Gums
1. A Minimally Invasive Way to Treat Gum Recession
Minimally invasive oral surgery is one that minimizes or removes the need for surgical incisions, which ultimately reduces trauma to the oral cavity and patient. With PST, a small pinhole is made by piercing the mucosa apical to the mucogingival junction in the area of gingival recession. From there, a specialized instrument is inserted through the “pinhole” to raise a full thickness flap in an apico-coronal direction. Once the periosteum is lifted away from the underlying tooth and bone, collagen can be transported through the pinhole and inserted under the gingiva into the interproximal spaces and facial surfaces of the exposed roots. There are no incisions and no stitching involved in PST, which is primarily why patients prefer this procedure over gum grafting.
2. Can Treat Multiple Areas of Recession in One Session
Gum grafting can typically only target one area of gingival recession at a time, which can have patients returning for multiple visits, something that is certainly more taxing than the alternative. But with the pinhole surgical technique, a specialist can perform the procedure on multiple areas of the mouth in just one visit. That’s a huge benefit for everyone.
3. Minimal Side Effects and Faster Recovery Time
Since there is no incision, the common gum grafting side effects of pain, discomfort, swelling, and bleeding are kept to an absolute minimum. Plus, with no sutures (tissues are held in place with collagen) to contend with, you can get back to enjoying normal snacks and meals the night after the procedure, although for good measure it is recommend that you avoid hard, crunchy, or overly chewy foods that can traumatize the gum tissue for about three days to a week. Lastly, thanks to the use of only local anesthesia, you can more than likely return to work the very next day – sorry about that part.
4. Near Immediate Improvement in Your Smile
While treating gum recession is essential to oral health, most people take action as soon as receding gums begin to impact their smile and overall appearance. Once again we see why the pinhole surgical technique is the preferred alternative to gum grafting. After the PST procedure, most patients enjoy a nearly immediate, significant, and natural looking improvement in their appearance. Within an hour (or so) of leaving the clinic you will be excited to talk, smile, and laugh around friends, family, colleagues, and strangers alike!
If you are living with or concerned about receding gums, you no longer need to fear “going under the knife” to treat the condition, thanks to the pinhole surgical technique. Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver BC residents are welcome to learn more about PST by contacting our Point Grey clinic at 604.336.0958 for a conversation about the procedure, or by simply scheduling an appointment using the form found here.