Most oral routines focus on keeping the teeth white, healthy, and clean. Nevertheless, many overlook the need for healthy gingiva or gums to maintain the natural system and prevent tooth loss. If you brush your teeth aggressively, chew tobacco, have periodontal disease, wear braces, or have a lip or tongue piercing, you risk gum recession. When your gum tissue starts to recede, it exposes your tooth root and the gum line, creating pockets that allow for bacteria buildup, causing decay.

Many patients experiencing gum recession want to restore their gum line and overall smile. Nevertheless, they fear the painful and lengthy conventional gum grafting treatment. If you wish to treat a soft-tissue recession and are afraid of grafting, you should look for an alternative medicine. At Washington Dental in Lomita, we recommend pinhole gum rejuvenation procedures to our patients because the treatments are minimally invasive and virtually painless. Below is what you need to know about the process.

Gum Recession Causes

Gum recession is a periodontal disease that occurs when the soft tissue pulls away from the teeth, exposing the roots below. The side effects of gum recession are the pockets created between the gum line and the tooth. The holes enable plaque buildup and bacteria breeding, resulting in severe oral problems like tooth decay, infection, and tooth loss if the condition is left untreated.

Gingival recession is gradual; many people rarely know they have the condition until they develop symptoms. The first apparent sign of gingival recession is tooth root exposure, which causes your teeth to appear longer than usual. Recession exposes the tooth's dark yellow section, and you can feel a notch on the gum line.

Other signs that could indicate you have gum recession are:

  • Pain on the gum line.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold substances.
  • Sensitivity when cleaning the teeth.

If you notice these signs, you should immediately consult your general dentist to arrest the condition before it becomes severe. Even as you seek treatment for the oral problem, you should understand its causes to prevent recurrence.

One common cause of gingival recession is aggressive brushing. People tend to believe that when you brush your teeth vigorously, they become cleaner. Nevertheless, they fail to understand that aggressive brushing causes the soft tissue to recede. To prevent recession, you must use proper brushing techniques. First, the bristles of your brush must be soft enough to avoid irritating the soft tissue. Again, it would help if you brushed your teeth gently.

Another leading cause of gingival recession is periodontal or gum disease. The condition occurs when plaque or calculus collects on the gum line, causing the soft tissue to pull away from the teeth. The buildup occurs due to poor oral hygiene, like failure to brush and floss the teeth regularly. If you fail to brush and floss the teeth, the tooth surface is never adequately cleaned, allowing for plaque accumulation. When the plaque accumulates for a long time, it turns into tartar, which typical brushing cannot remove. For this reason, you are encouraged to visit your general dentist semiannually for a professional cleaning and examination. If you fail to do so, the tartar allows harmful bacteria to breed, resulting in gum disease and gum recession.

Tooth grinding while asleep or awake can cause your gingiva tissue to recede. Therefore, if you have a tooth-grinding problem, wear a mouth guard to protect the teeth and soft tissue.

Lastly, gum recession can be caused by genetic predisposition. If your family has a history of people developing gingival recession, you are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Proper treatment and care can delay or prevent gingival recession and its effects.

Treatments for Gum Recession

If your gums have receded to the point that it is a significant health concern, you should consider seeking treatment because improving oral hygiene will not do the trick. When your dentist discovers the condition early and administers the proper treatment, you enhance oral health and prevent tooth loss. The standard treatment for receding gums is surgery.

Usually, your general dentist will recommend gum grafting to treat gingival recession. However, this traditional soft tissue grafting procedure is lengthy, painful, highly invasive, and takes a long time to recover. In the past, many dental patients referred to a periodontist for a gum graft never started the treatment, and those who did never completed it because of its horrific pain. Many patients would be terrified that they would rather have severe oral health issues than undergo a gum graft.

Luckily, at Washington Dental in Lomita, we are up to date with the latest dental science advancements and offer the newest procedure for treating receding gums, the pinhole gum rejuvenation procedure. The treatment is minimally invasive, virtually painless, and has a shorter recovery duration, making it a perfect alternative to the traditional soft tissue graft.

Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation

Also called the pinhole surgical technique (PST), pinhole gum rejuvenation is the latest method general dentistry services use to restore gum contours. The procedure is scalpel and suture-free. It involves making small holes in the soft tissue using special tools that guide and manipulate the gums over the section of the tooth that has receded to secure the exposed part. Because no cutting or stitching is involved in the procedure, you should not expect bleeding, pain, or swelling, making it a preferred alternative to the more invasive gum graft procedure. Also, the treatment can be completed in a single visit to the dentist and has a minimal recovery period.

Candidacy for the Pinhole Process

PTS is a less invasive alternative to bone grafts. The treatment aims at restoring receded gums to their natural position by covering exposed tooth root sections and thickening the gingiva tissue to prevent future recession. You must not have active gum or periodontal disease if you want to undergo the procedure.

When you visit us at Washington Dental in Lomita with a soft tissue recession, our general dentists will evaluate your gums to diagnose and develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Our full gum review involves:

  • An entire soft tissue and pocket chart for all the teeth.
  • Intra-oral pictures and a 3D scan for record-keeping.
  • A thorough evaluation of your overall gum health, including a complete diagnosis.
  • Discussion of the available treatment options and substitutes.
  • A detailed quotation of the treatment plan.

If, after the check, we discover that you have ongoing gum disease, you will not undergo the treatment immediately. We will first arrest the condition, after which you will be eligible for a pinhole procedure.

The Pinhole Procedure

Our PST treatment involves several phases. The first is the comprehensive review of your soft tissue before the surgery. After establishing that you are a candidate for the treatment, we will review the treatment plan and send a predetermination submission to your dental insurance.

Our general dentists recommend a thorough cleaning before the pinhole surgery because, after the procedure, you will not clean your teeth for around three months. When you book a day for the process, we will provide you with post-operative instructions, which must be reviewed before the surgery.

During the procedure, your oral surgeon will make a tiny hole using a small needle in the affected gum tissue. The oral surgeon will insert a unique tool to manipulate or gently loosen the soft tissue through the pinhole. The special equipment helps expand and push the gum line to cover the exposed root section.

No grafts, sutures, or cuts are involved in this treatment. Your surgeon only adjusts the soft tissue, and once it is in the desired position, they secure it using small collagen strips to provide support and ensure it maintains the same position even in the future.

The treatment takes around one hour, and the cosmetic results are instant. Also, you will return to your regular routines within one to two days.

Precautions to Take After a Pinhole Procedure

The PST is a one-time procedure whose results are permanent. The outcome of the treatment lasts for a lifetime if you make a few lifestyle adjustments, like wearing a mouthguard at night to prevent teeth grinding. Correct and gentle brushing and flossing of the teeth will ensure the results last a lifetime. Nevertheless, a relapse is highly likely when you continuously put pressure on the gingival tissue and teeth after the treatment. If you adhere to our post-operative instructions and observe good oral hygiene, your first visit to our clinic for gum recession treatment will be the last.

Pinhole Procedure Cost

PST is typically cheaper than conventional soft tissue grafts because of the extra surgeries required to harvest the gum graft from the palate. However, no additional surgeries are required with pinhole surgery, making the treatment affordable. The amount you pay for a pinhole procedure depends on the number of affected teeth. A PST procedure costs $1,750 to $3,500 per recession area. This is a lot of money for many patients, but luckily, many health insurers provide coverage for this treatment. When you book the procedure with our clinic at Washington Dental in Lomita, we will send a predetermination to your dental insurer on your behalf.

The Gum Graft Procedure

To date, many general dentistry services recommend the conventional bone graft as an effective treatment for receding gums. Although the treatment achieves the same results as the pinhole procedure, PST has a superior advantage, so we recommend it to our patients. However, to better appreciate the benefits of a pinhole procedure, it is crucial to understand gum grafting.

A gum graft surgery is an oral procedure that treats gum recession by covering exposed tooth structures and thickening the gum line to enhance general oral health. The treatment involves removing gum tissue from the roof of your mouth (palate) and transferring it to the recession area through surgery. If you do not want the soft tissue extracted from your palate, the periodontist can purchase a substitute graft from an accredited bone or soft tissue bank.

The oral surgeon administers anesthesia during graft surgery to numb the teeth and gum area. A soft tissue graft is extremely painful, so you must understand the sedation options and choose the one that will relax you during the treatment. You can choose IV, oral, or nitrous oxide sedation.

Once you have been sedated and comfortable, your dental specialists will cut the area of receding gums and create a flap. Doing so exposes the teeth's roots, making cleaning them and removing any plaque or tartar buildup easy and thorough.

After creating a flap and cleaning the tooth roots, the next step involves harvesting the soft tissue for the graft. The dental surgeon harvests the tissue by cutting your palate to extract a small wedge of your inner soft tissue. The outer layer of the palate remains intact. Once the surgeon harvests the internal tissue, they cover the extraction site with the outer layer and stitch it back. The process is long and extremely painful. Therefore, to skip the harvesting step, you must speak to your surgeon about using a substitute for inner or donated tissue.

The surgeon then attaches the soft tissue graft to the recession area or the exposed structure of your teeth.

Lastly, the oral surgeon repositions the soft tissue and sutures it into place, covering the entire recession area. During stitching, you will have two options for sutures: those that fall out on their own and those that require a follow-through for removal.

On average, a single soft tissue graft takes one hour. Therefore, the total duration of the treatment depends on the number of grafts required.

Even though the treatment is associated with pain, numbing before the surgery makes the treatment painless. However, you will experience soreness after the surgery, although you will go over post-operative instructions to help you manage the symptoms.

Aftercare and Recovery Duration

You will have gauze and a periodontal dressing after the surgery. You will only have the gauze for thirty minutes, but for the periodontal dressing, it will be in place for a couple of days after the treatment. Unlike pinhole surgery, where you can go home immediately after the treatment, with gum surgery, you must remain in the hospital for a few hours until the surgeon can clear you. Even when you are safe to go home, you will need someone to drive you because of the sedation.

You will experience bleeding, inflammation, and pain on the first day of the treatment. Therefore, you should rest and avoid strenuous activities. Heavy lifting and strenuous activities increase your heart rate and can increase pain, bleeding, and inflammation. You must avoid strenuous activities for at least a week.

A single gum graft takes at most two weeks to recover, but multiple grafts can take longer because one graft must heal before the other can be performed. Also, you risk complications like excessive bleeding, infection, or gum graft failure. You can tell if the procedure failed if you see white tissue fall off your teeth. The white color indicates that the soft tissue has lost blood and is dying. Additionally, you can tell the treatment has failed if there is pus on the operation site or a fever above 38.33 degrees. Immediately after you experience these symptoms, you should contact your oral surgeon.

Benefits of the Pinhole Treatment as an Alternative to Soft Tissue Graft

As you can see from the pinhole and tissue graft procedures, the pinhole treatment offers several benefits over the gum graft. This explains why Washington Dental in Lomita recommends the PST for our gingival recession patients over the gum graft.

  • You Treat Multiple Recession Areas in One Visit

First, the pinhole technique corrects multiple recession areas with one visit to the periodontist. Other soft tissue treatment procedures, like the gum graft, only target one gum graft at a time. Once the first graft has been performed, you must wait one or two weeks for the surgery area to heal before returning for another graft. It means that if you require multiple grafts, you will make several visits to the dental clinic.

The treatment is terrifying, and having to return to the dentist for the same treatment every two weeks scares many patients. Most go for the first visit and do not follow up with the rest. Nevertheless, with the pinhole surgery technique, you will only need a single visit to our dental clinic, and the entire treatment will be completed without the need for repeat appointments.

  • You Experience Minimal Side Effects

PST has minimal side effects as it is incision and suture-free. Our oral surgeons only make a small hole using a unique instrument; hence, the side effects like bleeding, inflammation, or pain are minimal. Instead of suturing, we use collagen strips to hold the soft tissue in place so you do not have to worry about future recession. However, gum grafts involve incisions during harvesting and root opening. Also, a lot of stitching is involved, hence the severe side effects like bleeding, swelling, and pain.

  • Short Recovery Period

Furthermore, our pinhole treatment services offer a quick recovery time. The PST procedure is fast and precise, providing a shorter healing duration than a gum graft. A soft tissue graft takes two to three weeks to heal for a single graft. Nevertheless, with the pinhole technique, you can treat multiple recession areas and recover within a day. No incision is required to treat the recession area, reducing the recovery duration. You can return to your routines the following day after treatment. Even if recovery is almost immediate, you should avoid crunchy or hard foods for the first few days.

  • Near Immediate Cosmetic Impact

Our pinhole treatment offers immediate cosmetic results. Many people seek gum recession treatment when the tooth roots are exposed, impacting their smile. Therefore, as much as the treatment aims to improve your oral health, it also helps improve your overall appearance. After a pinhole procedure, the cosmetic results are immediate and significant, as you can smile and talk as you walk out of our clinic.

  • Natural Outcome

The results from a pinhole treatment are natural-looking. Even though gum grafts help correct gingival recession, they do not provide the best aesthetic outcome. The multiple stitches in the recession area are visible after the procedure, and until they fall off, your smile will not look natural. Besides, harvesting the inner tissue from the palate and transferring it to the recession area denies your gums their natural look. Nevertheless, our pinhole procedure enables our oral surgeons to restore natural-looking gums by manipulating the gum line into its original position without using a gum graft or stitches.

  • Less Invasive

Lastly, pinhole gum rejuvenation is minimally or less invasive, reducing trauma to the oral cavity and patient. Our oral surgeons pierce a tiny hole in the mucosa apical to the mucogingival junction in the recession area during the procedure. A unique tool is inserted into the pinhole to elevate a complete thickness flap in an apical-coronal direction. The gum is then manipulated to the desired position, and collagen strips hold it in place to prevent recession. No incisions or sutures are involved in the treatment, so we recommend it for our patients over a tissue graft. 

Limitations of the Pinhole Technique

Like conventional soft tissue graft surgery, the pinhole treatment has limitations in treating gum recession. For instance, accurate prediction of root coverage in advanced bone loss areas is challenging because there could be a lack of bone structure to support the newly repositioned tissue.

Also, to undergo the pinhole procedure, you must be free of gum disease, inflammation, or active infection during the pinhole technique. You must address the active condition before a PST procedure. Also, it would be best to stop traumatic activities like aggressive brushing to prevent a relapse.

Find a Reputable Lomita General Dentistry Service Near Me

Gum or gingival recession can be discouraging as they directly interfere with your smile and oral health. Luckily, when your gums are receding, and you are afraid of seeking treatment because of the previous horrific experiences or terrifying stories you have heard of gum graft surgery, you should talk to a general dentistry service that offers the revolutionary pinhole gum rejuvenation technique. You are welcome to learn more about the treatment by contacting Washington Dental in Lomita at 310-326-5183 to schedule a meeting.