When you look in the mirror and smile, you might notice that some of your teeth seem longer than others. No, the light’s not playing a trick on you. If you have gingival, or gum, recession, more of your tooth is exposed, which makes it look longer. Receding gums cause more than just cosmetic concerns. Gingival recession can be an early sign of gum disease. Without treatment, the recession can continue, leading to increased sensitivity in the teeth and a progression of periodontal disease.
There are several ways for a dentist or periodontist to treat receding gums. Some methods are more invasive than others. The Pinhole Surgical Technique™ is a relatively new treatment that’s less invasive and less painful.
What Are Receding Gums?
Recession occurs when the gum around the root of the tooth starts to pull away from the tooth. A number of factors can cause the gums to recede. Your genes might play a part, for one thing. About 30 percent of people are genetically predisposed to periodontal disease and gum recession, even if they take excellent care of their teeth.
Taking care of your teeth can also lead to gingival recession, if you’re not careful. Brushing your teeth in a very vigorous way or using a hard-bristled brush can cause the tooth’s enamel to wear off and the gums to recede. On the other side of things, not caring for your teeth properly, say, by not flossing daily or by not brushing often enough, can also cause the gums to pull back.
Other factors that contribute to gum recession include grinding your teeth, using tobacco, and having piercings in areas that can irritate the gums, such as your lips or tongue. Changing hormone levels, such as during pregnancy or menopause, can also trigger gum recession. If your teeth aren’t aligned properly or if you have an overbite, you have also have an increased risk for developing gum recession.
Traditional gum disease treatments involved taking a small portion of tissue, usually from the upper part of the mouth, or the palate, and transferring it to the gum area. To graft the tissue onto the gum, the periodontist makes an incision over the teeth, peeling back the gums and inserting the graft into the opening. The graft is then sutured into position so that it covers the exposed tooth root.
While the gum graft procedure is usually effective, it has a number of downsides. For one thing, it’s common for patients to experience some pain or discomfort in the particular area of the mouth that the graft has been taken from. Bleeding from the area is also common. Since the grafted tissue comes from a different part of the mouth, there’s a chance that it won’t match the tissue on the gums and that the graft will be visible.
Treatment options such as Alloderm don’t require a graft from the patient’s mouth. Instead, it uses donated tissue that is well screened as the graft. Since the tissue doesn’t come from the patient’s mouth, there is no need for two surgical areas. But, since Alloderm requires incisions at the gums, patients do feel some discomfort.
The Pinhole Surgical Technique™ offers several advantages over other gingival recession treatments. It doesn’t require the use of a scalpel, incisions, or sutures. No tissue is grafted from one area or one donor to another. During the technique, the periodontist uses a small pointed tool to create a tiny “pinhole,” or 0.1 inch opening in the gum tissue. Using the tool, the dentist loosens and maneuvers the gum tissue, so that it slides down and covers the tooth root.
Benefits of the Pinhole Surgical Technique™
The Pinhole Technique™ has several benefits compared to gum grafting surgery. Since there are no incisions made, the patient doesn’t have to experience bleeding or discomfort. There is no need for sutures with the technique, either. The recovery time is usually shorter compared to other treatments and the results are typically obvious right away.
If you are suffering from gum disease or have noticed that your teeth look longer than before when you smile, the pinhole surgical technique™ might be right for you. To learn more about your treatment options when it comes to receding gums or gum disease, contact Miami periodontists Dr. Gallardo and Dr. Lamas for a consultation today. Call (305) 447-1447 to schedule your appointment.