“SOOOO, I have been told by my dentist and hygienist that I have receding gums! What does that mean? My mouth isn’t sensitive except for when I drink really cold things or the hygienist puts her instruments there…”
This conversation is all too common and can be a result of brushing hard with a medium bristle toothbrush or grinding. Many things may contribute to gum recession: periodontal disease, teeth clenching, grinding, overly aggressive brushing habits, and the natural aging process. Sometimes genetics may be a factor as well as hormones and tobacco use that may increase the risk of recession.
Many people don’t realize recession is occurring because it is happening gradually. Typically, people experience sensitivity or the appearance of longer teeth. Recession can cause pockets to form between the teeth and gum line, causing food to get caught and allowing harmful bacteria and tartar to build up. This can lead to more advanced periodontal disease, tissue and bone deterioration, and eventual tooth loss.
At Lowes Island Dentistry, we take photographs of our patients gums to document the amount of recession and to determine what may be a contributing factor. I often tell patients that have more recession on the top left teeth, that if they are right handed they are baring too hard with their toothbrush with their teeth closed while brushing! Many of us have too many things to think about in the morning when we are brushing our teeth…pack turkey for kids’ lunches, meeting at 9am, after school soccer, what’s for dinner, etc…that we may not be paying attention to how much pressure we are applying with our toothbrush. Some may be grinding their teeth unconsciously at night. When I see that recession is present all over the mouth, top and bottom, right and left, then I do think it could be more grinding then brushing. If you had 1mm of recession 2 years ago and this time you went to the hygienist and she said it’s 2mm, it means it’s an active process. There is something you are doing that is still contributing to the gums receding.
“If it doesn’t hurt, why should I do anything about it?”
We know that the bone that houses your tooth in the jaw is 2-3mm from the edge of your gum and if your gum recedes this amount, then so is the bone that is holding your tooth in the jaw. This is the bigger issue – to make sure we stop recession of the bone, as it is not possible to regrow bone very easily. Even if it doesn’t hurt, and you have gum recession as seen in the pictures below, not only should you try to eliminate contributing factors but also consider Gum Grafting.
Today, there are 2 types of Gum Grafting procedures: Traditional Gum Grafting and the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique®. With the Traditional method, gum is harvested from the roof of your mouth and placed in the receded areas after a surgical flap is laid and sutured together. Not only does this method sound invasive, there is gum cutting and sutures involved. At Lowes Island Dentistry, the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique® can be used to treat most patients with gum recession. Our dentist, Dr. Uzma Ansari has been trained to perform this surgery by Dr. Chao himself. Once periodontal health is stable, Dr. Ansari can perform the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique® to treat gum recession. Dr. Ansari has already seen great success with this technique as you can see in the pictures here:
The Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique® is the first minimally invasive procedure to treat gum recession effectively. This scalpel- and suture-free treatment uses healthy gum tissue already present at the treatment site, which is re-positioned using instruments inserted through a very small opening in the gums. The procedure is virtually pain-free and requires minimal recovery time. It is a quick and effective treatment for gum recession that is virtually pain-free with a short recovery time. Patients can resume normal activities the same day as their procedure.
As with all surgical procedures, there is the risk of bleeding, discomfort, and infection. For six weeks following your procedure, you will need to use a prescription mouthwash in place of brushing the treated area in order to prevent irritation. Eating a soft diet will also prevent irritation to the treated area. Any discomfort can be easily managed with over-the-counter medication. You will have a series of follow-up appointments to ensure that everything is healing properly and that you do not require any additional treatment.
The cost of the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique® is comparable to traditional gum grafting procedures or may be even lower because multiple teeth can be treated in a single visit. The treatment involves no incisions, minimal discomfort, and a minimal recovery time, which is why more and more patients are choosing this procedure over the traditional approach. See the results of one of Dr. Ansari’s patients:
Although it is similar to soft tissue grafting in many aspects, the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique® has many advantages for the right patients. Being a minimally invasive procedure, patients can benefit from a shorter recovery time, fewer side effects, and better treatment outcomes. Comparing the costs, advantages, risks, and timelines of both procedures can help our patients make an informed decision and determine which treatment is best for their individual needs. Schedule a consultation today with Dr. Ansari, the area expert for the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique®.