The gum tissue around your teeth can sometimes deteriorate, exposing more of your tooth to the air. If the root gets exposed, you can experience sensitivity to hot and cold, pain, and may eventually lose your tooth. Your gums can recede for a lot of reasons. Lack of proper dental care is a common reason, although genetics can also play a role. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, can also cause it. It can even be caused by regular, overly vigorous brushing. Besides the health risks that receding gums can cause, many people feel that they are a beauty issue. There are oral surgery procedures that can help, such as pinhole surgery.
Pinhole surgery is a minimally invasive surgical treatment for receding gums. It is an alternative to soft tissue grafting, in which soft tissue is removed from your palate and implanted in the gums around your teeth, to build them back up.
This surgery starts by making a pinhole in the receding gum tissue. A device is then put in the hole to stretch the gum tissue into a better position. Once the tissue is in position, the dentist or oral surgeon inserts collagen strips. These strips hold the tissue in place, avoiding the need for stitches. Over time, the collagen supports the development of new gum tissue around your tooth.
Pinhole surgery is the easiest treatment for gum recession, so it can fix the gums around multiple teeth in one session. You can even have your entire mouth fixed at once. A single tooth can be treated in minutes, and your entire mouth treated in about two hours. Grafting, which is the more traditional surgical treatment, is lengthy, painful, requires stitches, and it can take weeks to recover from it. It requires multiple sessions to fix your entire mouth. The healing process is much faster with pinhole surgery as well, and it usually involves much less pain.
Not everybody is a good candidate for pinhole surgery. If the gum tissue has receded too far, the procedure won’t be of any help. People with extensive tooth decay or periodontal disease are also ineligible, as are smokers and people who grind their teeth. People who experience cold sensitivity because of receding gums that can’t be treated by other means may be considered good candidates for this procedure[iii].
After the procedure, you may experience a little swelling and bleeding, as well as discomfort that could last for a few days. If these symptoms persist, or if you notice further recession, contact your dentist. You should avoid brushing your treated teeth for six weeks after the surgery. You may need to be seen for periodic assessments in the days and weeks afterward[iv].
The results of pinhole surgery are immediate, and although they are expected to be long lasting, further gum infections, physical damage, and the effects of aging can undo them in time. Talk to your care provider about what you can expect in the long term from this procedure.