Chances are if you have sensitive teeth, you could be suffering from a receding gum line. This is usually the result of gum disease or aggressive brushing. Fifty percent of people have some form of gum recession. A painful surgery with a long recovery used to be the only answer. Now, a local dentist is trying to ease the pain for his patients and millions of others.
No surgery, no sutures, all smiles. That's what Dr. John Chao of Alhambra Dental wanted for his patients.
"I just didn't see why dentistry has to have a procedure that hurts so much," said Chao.
Conventional gum grafting is painful. Dentists cut and remove tissue from the roof of the mouth and then graft it onto the receded gum. Chao has developed a new, almost painless procedure called the Pinhole Surgical Technique.
Chao doesn't cut, but uses a needle to make a small hole above the diseased area. A specially-designed, small instrument frees the gum tissues from the bone; then the gums are moved down to a healthy position. Chao then places collagen strips under the gums to keep the tissue in place.
"We'll loosen up the gum and let it drape down to where it's supposed to be. We'll reinforce it with some collagen," said Chao.
The pinhole procedure can correct 10 to 14 teeth at once, takes about 20 minutes for up to three teeth, and recovery is less than a day.
Traditional surgery requires two incisions, only corrects one to two teeth at a time, takes almost two hours, and there's a three-week recovery.
Joyce Ann Flint was one of the first to have it done three years ago.
"It was a miracle, an absolute miracle," she said.
Chao says he hasn't seen any higher risk with the pinhole technique than with traditional methods. The cost is comparable to traditional methods and can range from $500 to $1,800. Right now, Chao is the only dentist doing this procedure, but he's beginning to train dentists around the world.