There is one thing you probably dread the most and that’s being told by your dentist that the only way to resolve your receding teeth is to have them removed and replaced with dentures. This is not the sort of news anyone wants to hear. There are ways of improving the effects of gum recession, but in the last few years a new technique has been developed called the pinhole surgical technique. At present this technique can cost quite a lot of money and is not yet normally available on the NHS. The approximate overall cost starts at around £1,000 depending on the dentist.
It’s not just the aging process that causes gum recession. Genetics and gum disease may also be contributing factors, just as brushing too hard when cleaning your teeth can cause inflammation that leads to gum tissue becoming misplaced. Gum recession makes the teeth appear longer and the tooth root which is normally hidden can become exposed. Also, pockets or spaces begin to form at the point where the teeth join to the gum line. This is a great opportunity for bacteria to take hold, causing more damage to the surrounding tissue and bone.
The pinhole surgical technique for severe gum recession is only a recently developed technique
The usual treatment available for gum recession is a connective tissue graft normally used in the worst cases of gum recession. A flap of the victim’s skin is cut off the palate and some tissue is taken away from beneath the flap and sewn onto gum tissue surrounding the exposed root.
This procedure isn’t usually available on the NHS. The treatment takes some time to complete because only 1 or 2 teeth can be treated in a single appointment and it can up to 2 weeks to heal. However, the pinhole surgical technique is less invasive, less painful and there is a shorter healing time. It involves a small puncture hole in the gum with no need for any cutting and stitching. It’s only been in use in Britain in the last 2 years and was developed by John Chao, a U.S. dentist.
The process for the pinhole surgical technique
A 2 millimetre hole is made using a needle, well above the gum and just inside the cheek. The dentist then loosens up the gum tissue from the jaw bone and a needle manipulates it gently downwards to its correct position following the tooth’s normal curvature where the tooth’s enamel joins the root. At this point, collagen strips, which are materials that offer elasticity to the skin, are dropped into the baggy area of the gum using the first incision. This gives the area bulk and offers support.
Mild pressure is then exerted using the fingers, which manipulate the gum into its correct position. The gum will bleed but when it clots it seems to mix well with the collagen. This helps the gum to bind to the nearby bone’s surface. It is not necessary to use stitches for such a tiny pinhole and it will heal naturally.
A local anaesthetic is usually used and it takes around one hour to complete the process which does not involve any pain but only a slight feeling of discomfort.
Price comparison of a connective tissue graft and the pinhole surgical technique
The usual gum graft treatment costs from £400 to £600 for each tooth, while this new procedure, when used to treat up to sixteen teeth, only runs up a bill a fraction of that cost.
This new treatment is not suitable for everyone and strict guidelines involving food intake and teeth cleaning have to be followed after completion of the treatment.