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The Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST™): A Minimally Invasive Alternative to Gum Grafting

Gum recession can have a negative impact on the aesthetics of your smile. When the roots of your teeth show, it can add years to your appearance. Most significantly, recession can result in extreme tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets. Traditionally, the only way to treat recession was through extensive gum grafting. Fortunately, The Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST™), created by Dr. John Chao, has made it possible to treat gum recession with a minimally invasive procedure. At Creative Smiles in Vancouver, WA, Dr. Futenma performs the PST for patients who wish to improve the aesthetics and health of their smile.

The Importance of Treating Gum Recession

The roots of the teeth are not protected with enamel. Unlike the crown of a tooth that extends beyond the gum line, the outer surface of the root is made of dentin, which is softer than enamel. In a healthy patient, the roots are protected by gum tissue. When the gums recede, or pull away from the tooth, the cementum is exposed, making the tooth vulnerable to dental damage and tooth decay. When the gums recede, the level of underlying bone does, as well. Therefore, untreated gum recession can eventually lead to mobility and tooth loss. For these reasons, it is important to address gum recession early to preserve your long-term oral health.

How is PST Different from Traditional Gum Grafting?

Traditional gum grafting is a surgical procedure in which donor tissue is placed in the area of recession. The donor tissue is either taken from the patient’s palate or purchased from a bone and tissue bank. Because conventional surgery involves incisions and stitches, patients typically require a substantial amount of healing time. Patients who have tissue transplanted from their palate will have two surgical sites rather than one, which can sometimes make recovery uncomfortable.

The PST does not require donor tissue, nor does it require incisions or stitches. To perform the PST, Dr. Futenma will make tiny pinhole access points in the gums. He will then place specially designed dental instruments through the pinholes, and gently move the gum tissue into a more favorable position. To add volume and aid in tissue regeneration, Dr. Futenma will add small strips of collagen underneath the gums. Much like laparoscopic procedures in the field of medicine, PST completes the necessary steps without the need for scalpels. Therefore, patients experience a quicker and more comfortable recovery.

Benefits of PST

Because PST is minimally invasive, it offers numerous advantages over conventional procedures. PST is incredibly effective for treating generalized recession. Therefore, patients who need several teeth treated can address all areas of recession in one office visit. This is a vast improvement over traditional surgery, which typically requires multiple procedures. Additionally, the aesthetic enhancement is virtually immediate following PST. The pinhole access points heal quickly, and are typically unnoticeable the day after treatment.

Recovery following PST

Most patients experience little to no discomfort after the PST. Swelling is a normal part of the healing process, and can be addressed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen. During the first 24 hours, a cold compress can be applied to the external surface in 20-minute increments to help reduce swelling. Post-treatment instructions will be provided by Dr. Futenma. Following these guidelines closely will help ensure a rapid and successful recovery.

Learn More about PST

If you have gum recession, but have been avoiding treatment, the PST is an excellent alternative to traditional gum grafting. To find out if you are a candidate, schedule an appointment with Dr. Futenma. Call our office at (360) 574-3061 or contact us online.