New surgery for receding gums patients

It's a breakthrough that could help ease the pain for millions of people suffering from receding gums.

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 Doctor John Chao wanted for his patients.

"I just didn't see why dentistry has to have a procedure that hurts so much," said Dr. Chao.

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, Doctor Chao has developed a new, almost painless procedure called the pinhole surgical technique.

"There's some recession of the gums going up this way," he explained.

Maria Becerra got the procedure.

Doctor Chao doesn't cut but uses a needle to make a small hole above the diseased area.

"We'll loosen up the gum and let it drape down to where it's supposed to be. We'll reinforce it with some collagen," said Dr. Chao.

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,” said Joyce Ann.

It's expected to be a permanent procedure and shouldn't need to be repeated.

As for risks, in the past six years, Doctor 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 to $1,800.

Right now, Doctor Chao is the only dentist doing this procedure, but he is beginning to train dentists around the world.


REPORT: MB # 3627

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:

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:
* Irregular or abnormal tooth position
* Genetics
* Periodontal disease
* Overly aggressive tooth brushing
* Gum trauma (Source:

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:

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:

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John Chao, DDS
Alhambra Dentist, Ca.
(626) 308-9104

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