ALHAMBRA, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Are you long in the tooth or do you have sensitive teeth? You may have receding gums. In fact, 50 percent of people have some form of gum recession. A painful surgery was the only answer, until now. Out of necessity, one dentist is trying to ease the pain for his patients and millions of others.
No surgery, no sutures, all smiles, that's what Dr. John Chao wanted for his patients.
"I just didn't see why dentistry has to have a procedure that hurts so much," John Chao, DDS, Dentist at Alhambra Dental, California, told Ivanhoe.
Conventional gum grafting is painful. Dentists cut and remove tissue from the roof of the mouth, and then graft it onto the receded gum. Now, Dr. Chao has developed a new, almost painless procedure called the pinhole surgical technique.
"There's some recession of the gums going up this way," Dr. Chao said.
Maria Becerra had the procedure.
"There's some sensitivity," Meria told Ivanhoe.
Dr. Chao doesn't cut, but uses a needle to make a small hole above the diseased area.
"We loosen up the gum and drape it down to where it's supposed to be. Then we reinforce it with some collagen," Dr. Chao explained.
The pinhole procedure uses a needle, can correct 10 to 14 teeth at once, takes about 20 minutes for up to three teeth, and recovery is less than a day. Traditional surgery requires two incisions, only corrects one to two teeth at a time, takes almost two hours, and there's a three-week recovery. Joyce Ann Flint was one of the first to have it done three years ago.
"It was a miracle, an absolute miracle," Joyce Ann Flint told Ivanhoe.
It is expected to be a permanent procedure and should not need to be repeated. As for risks, in the past six years Dr. Chao says he has not seen any higher risk with the pinhole technique than with traditional methods. The cost is comparable to traditional methods and can range from 500 dollars to 1,800 dollars. Right now, Dr. Chao is the only dentist doing this procedure, but he is beginning to train dentists around the world.
BACKGROUND: Receding gums are when the gingival tissue around a tooth begins to wear away or pull back, causing more of the tooth to be exposed. The gums can even recede to the point where the root of the tooth is also bare and unprotected. While gum recession can cause the teeth to look longer and feel more sensitive, the real problem is that when gum tissue pulls back from the teeth, a gap is formed between the gum line and the tooth. Bacteria can easily build-up in these gaps and cause disease or even severe damage to the teeth and supporting bone and tissue if left untreated. So anyone who suspects their gums may be receding should see a dentist to prevent it from turning into a real problem. (Source: www.webmd.com)
CAUSES: Having some degree of gum recession is common, especially as people get older, but certain factors can increase the likelihood of receding gums. Here are a few common causes:
TREATMENT: If gum recession is addressed early on when the problem is still minor, changing your oral hygiene methods like excessive brushing or getting a special cleaning called scaling and root planning at the dentist's office may be all that is needed. However, if the gum recession is too advanced for simple measures, then dentists will use a soft-tissue graft known as a gum graft. In a gum graft, a piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth and grafted where the gum has receded. The graft covers the once-exposed tooth root, prevents future recession, helps to reduce tooth sensitivity, and improves the overall appearance of the gums. (Source:www.ada.org)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: The Pinhole Surgical Technique was created by John Chao, DDS, as an alternative to gum grafts. In gum grafting, tissue is cut from the roof of the mouth and then sutures are used to close the wound. Sutures are also used to attach the graft to the new site. With Dr. Chao's new technique, no suturing is used and only a single 0.1 inch incision is made. Once the small incision is made on the gums, the dentist uses special tools to displace the gum tissue to its normal position and a special collagen material is applied to stabilize the gums. The Pinhole Surgical Technique has been shown to be effective over 90 percent of the time, and patients experience less pain and a shorter recovery time compared to a gum graft.
Rate of success of the pinhole surgical technique is comparable to the highest rate attributed to traditional methods, according to the 33-month study of 43 patients with 121 sites treated; pinhole surgical technique shared the same 90% success rate as the traditional graft technique. The pinhole technique was accepted and published by the International Journal of Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry, a highly acclaimed, peer-reviewed journal with world-wide readership. (Source: www.alhambradental.com)
John Chao, DDS, Dentist at Alhambra Dental, California, talks about a new procedure that could ease the pain for patients with receding gums without invasive surgery.
What is the Pinhole Surgical Technique?
Dr. Chao: The Pinhole Surgical Technique is a way to repair gum shrinkage through a pinhole in the gum without having to cut.
Do you see this all the time?
Dr. Chao: We see a lot of patients that need gum rejuvenation, but don't realize it.
Before this procedure, would people rather live with the problem instead of getting it fixed?
Dr. Chao: That happens to a lot of people because they are put in a dilemma of whether they should fix it with a very painful, drawn out gum grafting procedure, just try to ignore it, or try a temporary fix by placing a filling on the exposed root.
How long does the standard gum grafting procedure take?
Dr. Chao: Well, the standard procedure requires cutting out a graft of the gum from the palate and grafting it to where it's needed. This creates two surgical wounds that patients have to deal with. To delicately cut and remove the graft tissue and attach it with sutures takes about an hour to an hour and a half for just one or two teeth. This requires the patient to recuperate for about two or three weeks.
What's the key to your procedure?
Dr. Chao: The key to The Pinhole Surgical Technique is that we don't have to perform graft. We go through a pinhole which is made by a needle, so there's no scalpel or cutting at all. Then we can literally shift the tissue down with very little trauma to the tissue. Also, there are no open wounds. It's so minimally invasive; nothing could be more noninvasive in dentistry than this. I know that if you're not used to seeing things like this it seems like it's quite traumatic, but really it's very, very minimal. There's so much blood supply and so much collagen in the area that when you see the patient the next day, you can hardly tell if anything was done. The tiny pinhole that's been made shrinks away by the next day.
So, you're just moving the collagen around, correct?
Dr. Chao: I'm just moving the gum tissue which has abundant collagen in it. The collagen strips that I put in are used it to stabilize the gum flap. The collagen causes the body to regenerate more collagen tissue, so it serves a dual purpose.
How long will this last?
Dr. Chao: This is expected to be permanent, and last as long as any other procedure. Nothing is forever of course, because there the normal aging process goes on. However, if everything is healthy and there is no over-brushing, I've seen this last years and years.
Does this procedure cure gum disease?
Dr. Chao: It's not meant to cure gum disease. The Pinhole Surgical Technique is meant to restore the gum line to normal. Any treatment for gum disease treatment must be done before having this procedure. So, we want to do it in a mouth that is not infected with any kind of inflammatory process, such as periodontal disease.
How long have you been doing this?
Dr. Chao: I have been performing this procedure since 2006.
Are there any risks to this technique?
Dr. Chao: The risks are very minimal, especially compared to other procedures.
So are you teaching other dentists around the country?
Dr. Chao: At this moment I'm not, but I'm preparing to teach the dentists as much as I can. The ultimate goal of this method is to make it available to everybody. So, we're gearing up to train doctors.
Joyce said it was expensive, but worth every penny. How expensive is it right now?
Dr. Chao: It's about the same cost as the standard gum grafting procedures, but without the cutting, pain and downtime. However, the overall cost can be much less because we can do so many teeth at the same time. We can reduce the cost by quite a bit when we do more than one. We can do up to 15 teeth at one time and it doesn't take that much more time.
How did you even think of coming up with this technique?
Dr. Chao: Well, it was just a necessity. I just didn't see why dentistry had to have a procedure that hurt so much. So, I investigated it and it dawned on me that there is another way altogether to treat receding gums.
This was published in a very prestigious journal, right?
Dr. Chao: Yes. It was published by the International Journal of Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry, one of the most respected journals in dentistry.
After that did you get a lot of calls?
Dr. Chao: I got a lot of calls from all over the world because it was published in an international journal. So, we've had a lot of interest and because of the interest I expect that this will be available to the rest of the country in a very short time.
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