Soft Tissue Grafting San Diego
Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. If you’re embarrassed by receding gums or experience discomfort due to increased sensitivity, you might hide your mouth behind your hand or refuse to grin at all. Traditional gum recession treatment, while effective, involves a painful procedure with a lengthy recovery process. Patients hesitant to undergo surgical gum grafting have had limited options for restoring a healthy smile—until now.
At San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, we’re proud to offer our patients a scalpel-free and suture-free restorative gum recession treatment that provides instant cosmetic improvement with minimal downtime.
What causes gum recession?
Research shows that 88% of individuals over the age of 65 have receding gums in at least one tooth. Receding gums, also known as gingival recession, is a loss of gum tissue that exposes the roots of the teeth. When these fragile roots are introduced to bacteria, plaque, and decay, patients may experience tooth sensitivity, pain, or infection. Cosmetically, receding gums makes the teeth appear longer and create the illusion of black triangles where the tooth meets the gum.
Gum recession is often caused by poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease, but receding gums can happen to people who regularly visit the dentist, too. Some have a genetic predisposition for receding gums due to tooth position and gum thickness. Others who vigorously brush their teeth or use a hard bristled toothbrush may physically wear down the gums and cause gum recession. Lip piercings, smoking and using other tobacco products, misaligned teeth, and damage caused by dental treatment are also common culprits.
Gum Recession Treatment With Soft Tissue Grafting
Soft tissue graft treatment is a long-term way to treat gum recession, allowing you to immediately identify and resolve your periodontal issues. Soft tissue grafting involves taking healthy tissue from elsewhere in the mouth and using it to treat the receding gums, covering the exposed tooth roots.
What Are the Different Types of Soft Tissue Grafts?
Different techniques exist to regenerate lost gum tissue. Some techniques use your own gum tissue (autograft) and other techniques may involve donor tissue, either originating from a cadaver source (allograft) or animal source (xenograft). Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages; it just depends on your individual case and what you and the periodontist are trying to achieve.
Autografts (From Self)
Normal gum tissue is typically composed of two layers: an outer “epithelial” layer and an inner “connective tissue” layer.
Free Gingival Graft
In a free gingival graft, a small piece of tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth and attached to the recession site to encourage natural growth. This involves the removal of both the outer and inner layer of gum tissue to be removed. This technique is used if there is a recession area that needs to be reinforced or thickened with strong gum tissue. Typically a second procedure may be necessary to move the gum tissue up to cover the roots. Color matching of the gum tissue is not ideal and there may be more postoperative discomfort.
Connective Tissue Graft
The connective tissue graft is the most common type soft tissue autograft. A small inner layer of connective tissue is removed, typically from the roof of the mouth, and is then placed onto the recession area to attach and cover the exposed tooth roots. This method is more esthetic as it blends to the surrounding gum tissue and is less invasive than the free gingival graft. It can help resolve areas of sensitivity caused by recession.
Allograft or Xenograft (from donor or animal source)
The advantage of using allograft or xenografts is that you don’t have to get gum tissue from your own mouth. Allografts do not limit how many recession areas can be treated at one time compared to an autograft so that a whole arch or whole mouth can be all completed in one visit. However we must note that it does not work in all cases.
Some techniques that use this type of graft are the Edward Allen Tunneling Technique, the Chao Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation Technique, and the VISTA technique. All of these techniques are minimally invasive as they utilize minimal incisions to access and peel the gum tissue from the underlying bone, compared to the larger traditional flap access. Because it is less invasive, there is also less postoperative discomfort.
The Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique®
Another minimally invasive procedure, the Chao pinhole technique is considered the best treatment for receding gums, as it involves zero incision, zero grafting, and zero suturing. The periodontist creates a pinhole in the gum and uses specialized instruments to loosen the gum away from the tooth, gently repositioning it to restore the gum line and cover the exposed tooth root. The improvement is instant, and the recovery time is minimal. Read More
Pat Allen Tunneling Technique
This minimally invasive surgical grafting technique involves the creation of a small tunnel around the tooth with gum recession. Human donor tissue material is inserted into the tunnel, which is then closed with a special suturing technique.
Dr. Kwok explains What is the Pinhole Technique?
The Pinhole Technique is a scalpel-free, suture-free gum recession treatment that combines techniques from traditional restorative methods to correct receding gums. The procedure involves making tiny holes with a syringe needle to gently loosen the gum tissue and slide it over the receded part of the teeth. From here, Dr. Kwok can gently shift the gum tissue into the desired shape. After repositioning the gums, Dr. Kwok will add collagen strips to the recession sites to ensure the gums stay in the desired position during the healing process.
There is so much collagen and elastin in the gum tissue that the pinholes created are unnoticeable a day following treatment. What’s more, there is no limit to the number of teeth that can be treated in a single session. Since there is no cutting, stitching, or grafting, patients can expect minimal pain and downtime. With gentle brushing and routine dental care, the results of the Pinhole Technique will last years.
Pinhole Gum Surgery Before and After Photos
Am I a good candidate for the Pinhole Technique?
The Pinhole Technique is a quick, minimally invasive gum recession treatment designed to rejuvenate the gums and protect the sensitive tooth root.
You may be a good candidate for the Pinhole Technique if:
- You are bothered by the appearance of receding gums
- You have significant tooth sensitivity due to gum recession
- You do not have periodontal disease (gum disease)
- You are a non-smoker or are willing to quit
- You have adequate gum tissue adjacent to receding gums
Candidates for the Pinhole Technique should be in good general health. The teeth and gums to be treated should also be healthy. An infected tooth may not benefit from gum recession treatment, and a tooth that’s loose might not serve as an adequate anchor. The best way to find out if you’re a good candidate for the Pinhole Technique is to schedule an appointment at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry.
How Do I Prevent Receding Gums?
Whether you currently have receding gums or if you want to prevent gum recession, here are a few tips to prevent or even slow down the rate of recession:
- Removing plaque buildup with proper oral hygiene
- Use a soft bristle toothbrush
- Avoid brushing your teeth too hard or applying too much pressure when brushing
- Review with your dentist or hygienist the proper techniques of brushing
- Changing your toothbrush regularly
- For thin or weak gums, consider gum grafting which can help increase the amount of stronger gum tissue
- Consult with your dentist about getting a nightguard, which can minimize the effects of clenching and grinding
If you have receding gums and are in need of a soft tissue graft treatment (Pinhole Technique), contact us today and book a consultation with Dr. Kwok who is experienced and certified periodontist in San Diego, call us at (619) 543-0905.
Chao J. The Pinhole Surgical Technique, A Novel Approach to Root Coverage, Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent 2012;32:521-531.