What is the Pinhole Surgical Technique?

Pinhole gum surgery vs. the graft technique; new treatment for receding gums that is minimally invasiveBefore the Pinhole Technique was commonly used, the best way to treat gingival recession (or receding gum line) caused by gum disease was with traditional gum grafting. This required a surgical procedure that would take a section of tissue from the roof of your mouth and graft it onto the existing receding gums in order to make a more natural gum line. This would be done with sutures and required incisions in the existing gum.

Because of the time, expense, and pain involved many patients avoided following up on their receding gums. Unfortunately, the longer you wait to address gum disease the greater your risk for tooth loss, causing more pain and more expense required to repair the damage.

Thankfully, there is now a new technique available to treat gum recession called the Pinhole Surgical Technique. A minimally invasive procedure, PST is also sometimes called the Lunchtime Gum Lift because of the quick recovery time and minimal postoperative discomfort involved. PST does not require grafts to be taken from the roof of your mouth; instead, a small pinhole is made in your gum in the vicinity of the receding tissue and a special tool is inserted to gently loosen the existing gum tissue. That tissue is then lifted and pulled down to cover the exposed bone and form a natural looking gum line. Another unique feature of PST is that sutures are not used to secure the gum. Rather than traditional stitching, special collagen strips are utilized. Resorbable collagen pieces called “Bio-Gide” anchor the loosened gum into place until they reattach themselves in the natural position. No stitches are left behind and the mouth looks natural and back to normal moments after the procedure is done.

Because of the less invasive nature of this technique, a patient can have as many areas of the mouth treated at once as they like. With traditional grafting it can take up to a year to do an entire mouth. PST allows a mouth to be done in a single sitting if so desired. Not only is the procedure easier and less painful, it also requires significantly less chair time overall.

Aside from these benefits, possibly the most important one is a shorter hesitation time. Time lost is gum loss—and can even be tooth loss—so it’s important that once you are diagnosed with receding gums the solution is to make sure you follow-up so as not to increase damage. The idea that receding gums can be treated with less pain and a quicker recovery period is a great thing not only for periodontists but also for the patients they treat.



What are Receding Gums, and Should You Worry About Them?

Receding and inflamed gums needing periodontal treatmentClearly, everyone would love to have healthy gums. Not only do they look better, but they help you to keep your teeth, and are actually connected to the health of other body parts such as your heart. The main cause of gingival recession (receding gums) happens is because of harmful bacteria that live at, and below the gum line.  This bacteria can cause bleeding gums and gum disease called gingivitis. It also allows for bone loss to occur. If the bone loss around the tooth root gets bad enough a deep cleaning with scaling and root planing may be necessary. During this cleaning, a dentist will pull back the gum tissue and scale the pockets where bacteria live so that the tooth surface is smooth and there are no pockets left for the bacteria to hide (sometimes called scaling and planing.) Left untreated periodontal diseases can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. Chronic gum disease also causes bad breath and painful inflammation of the gum. 


Receding gums are an issue everyone has to deal with. Often people don’t notice that their gums are receding because it happens gradually.  Maintaining oral hygiene is an important factor in slowing and preventing gum loss, but there is always the possibility that you will develop gum loss simply due to age. 



How to tell if your gums are healthy:


Healthy gums are dark red but when they recede pink tissue at the roots of the tooth is exposed. The expression long in the tooth meaning having reached old age refers to gingival recession and the fact that the teeth do look longer as people age because of gum disease. Oral hygiene is the key to slowing receding gums but it is important that it be done correctly. For example, brushing the teeth too hard can cause gums to further recede. It is important when you brush and floss that you brush your teeth correctly. It’s also important to know that it’s not normal to see blood when you brush. If you are seeing blood when you brush, you may already have gum disease and should contact your dentist. 


Another cause of gum loss is tooth grinding. Grinding your teeth can misalign them and cause tiny spaces to form between them where plaque and tartar can build up and make harmful bacteria more difficult to remove.  Good daily habits of oral hygiene are the key to avoiding receding gums and gum disease and having healthy gums is both cosmetic and also very import for your general oral health and keeping your teeth into old age.