Treatment for gum recession explained by experienced dentist in San Francisco, CA
An estimated 88 percent of people over the age of 65 have receded gum tissue around at least one tooth. Make no mistake, though, this condition is NOT limited to seniors. It can occur at any age, impacting the appearance of the smile and increasing risk of oral sensitivity and tooth decay. For more than 34 years, Dr. Leo Arellano, has been caring for patients in the San Francisco, CA area with the latest technologies and methods. Here, his contemporary treatment for gum recession is explained in detail.
What is gum recession?
Gums are a mucous membrane. Healthy gum tissue is dense and rosy pink, full of blood vessels that supply a continual source of nourishment. They fit snugly around teeth, without dark triangles (spaces) between teeth, providing a barrier against infection and disease.
Gums are tough and resilient, but when subjected to chronic irritation, they pull away from teeth, exposing root structure. Recession at younger ages can be a result of brushing teeth too hard, soft tissue trauma (such as a sports injury), genetic predisposition to thin gums, an ill-fitting partial denture, or use of any kind of tobacco.
Collagen is a strong, fibrous protein. Collagen is vital for the structure of skin, hair, nails, ligaments, tendons, and bone. It is a primary component of gum tissue as well. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen. Plus, over time, environmental stressors deplete stores of collagen in our bodies. This is one of the reasons skin gets thin and sags into wrinkles. It is also a contributing factor in gum recession.
The most prevalent cause of gum recession, though, is periodontal disease. When harmful pathogens attack gum tissue, it becomes inflamed and infected, loosening and retreating from teeth. Early stage gum disease (gingivitis) can be halted, and more advanced periodontal disease treated and managed. Bite forces and other hereditary factors are also common causes that need to be managed. However, improving gum health will not reverse recession, once it has occurred.
Gum recession treatment explained
In San Francisco, CA, beautiful smiles are abundant. No one wants their look aged by long teeth, yellowed at the gum line. Yet most people are not enthusiastic about the idea of an invasive gum graft procedure. The traditional treatment for receded gums requires a sample of healthy tissue from another spot in the mouth, sutured into place at the site of recession. This procedure typically takes an hour or more per tooth treated and requires several weeks of recovery time.
Dr. Arellano is one of only a few dentists in the area trained and certified as an Advanced Pinhole Clinician in the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique, a more natural, minimally invasive method of gum rejuvenation. This approach causes little discomfort or downtime, and the aesthetic improvement is immediate.
The procedure basically follows these steps:
- A thorough oral examination is conducted to be sure the patient is a suitable candidate for treatment.
- Dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease are addressed first.
- For the pinhole surgical gum lift, the treatment area is numbed with local anesthetic.
- One or more tiny entry points (depending on how much of the mouth is to be treated) are made with a needle. These holes are no larger than the tip of a ballpoint pen, made near teeth with receding gums.
- A small, specially-designed dental instrument is inserted into the access hole.
- Gum tissue is carefully loosened and precisely moved back into normal placement.
- Little strips of collagen are inserted into the holes, placed where they will help to anchor newly repositioned gum tissue. Collagen strips serve a dual purpose – they also stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen to supplement gingival tissue.
- The procedure usually takes a couple of hours, depending on how many teeth are treated. An entire arch or even the whole mouth may be done in one appointment.
- Improvement in appearance is visible right away and continues as collagen builds.
- There is little downtime – patients may return to work or other limited activities. A soft diet may be recommended for a couple of days.
- Entry points heal quickly and are typically undetectable the next day.
- There can be mild swelling, but it resolves naturally in a few days.
- Results are long-lasting with proper oral hygiene and the management of bite forces.
A scientific study published in 2012 indicates the pinhole technique is as successful as traditional gum grafting . . . without cutting, bleeding, sutures, discomfort, or an extended healing period.
Get your smile back into great shape, with the help of Dr. Arellano. Call his San Francisco, CA office at 415-881-4343 to schedule a consultation.