Think of it as a facelift for your gums. Pinhole gum grafting is the latest way to deal with gum recession. Created in California, pinhole gum grafting is often referred to as a lunchtime gum lift.
“Basically pinhole gum grafting is a newer way to treat gum recession, which creates less post-operative discomfort and is very predictable in the long-term,” says Dr. Msitry Dentistry’s Dr. Ketan Mistry. The conventional method of gum grafting involves taking a piece of donor tissue from the roof of the patient’s mouth and grafting it onto the area of recession. “The technique worked, but the donor site was so painful that people often declined the procedure,” Dr. Mistry says.
What is Pinhole Gum Grafting?
Pinhole gum grafting requires no incision and no stitches. “It involves releasing gum tissue so it’s mobile and advancing it to cover the area of recession,” explains Dr. Mistry. “The area is stabilized with a specialized collagen material that gets reabsorbed.” The collagen helps to stabilize the area until the gums are healed and stay in place themselves. There is some swelling following the procedure, but Dr. Mistry Dentistry patients have rated the pain as 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.
“With less pain our patients are able to return to their daily activities a lot faster,” Dr. Mistry says. “With the old way, they would experience 5 to 7 days of discomfort. Now we have patients who go back to work the next day.” Those who experience discomfort usually need only ibuprofen to reduce any pain.
While the whole mouth can be treated at once, Dr. Mistry opts to do one arch per visit, either the top or bottom. For an entire arch, the patient’s time in the dental chair is 2.5 to 3 hours. Most people who are motivated to fix their gum recession are good candidates for pinhole gum grafting. People with active gum disease will need treatment for that before undergoing the procedure.
Often patients treated with pinhole gum grafting once had the old type of gum grafting without success. Others had fillings along the gum line to cover up the exposed root. “It’s not really fixing the problem,” Dr. Mistry points out. “It’s kind of masking the issue more than anything else. In the long run, we are much better off restoring the gums to their previous form.” Fillings wear out and require replacement over time, especially close to the gum line where plaque tends to accumulate.
What is Gum Recession and Why is it Bad?
Pinhole gum grafting is a new solution to an old problem – gum (or gingival) recession. Your gum tissue protects your teeth. When it recedes and exposes the tooth’s root, you may experience sensitivity. Tooth decay also becomes more likely, as the softer root surface decays more easily than the enamel on the crown of the teeth.
What Causes Gum Recession?
“The number one cause of gum recession is aggressive tooth brushing,” Dr. Mistry says. There are other contributing factors, such as heredity and trauma to the gums, but most patients have simply been too abrasive with their toothbrushes. The issue is most often seen in the early twenties and onward. “A couple years of going to town on your gums with a toothbrush will wear away that gum tissue quite quickly,” Dr. Mistry says.