Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique?
Dr. Chao: The Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique is a way to repair gum shrinkage through a pinhole in the gum without having to cut.
Do you see this all the time?
Dr. Chao: We see a lot of patients that need gum rejuvenation, but don’t realize it.
Before this procedure, would people rather live with the problem instead of getting it fixed?
Dr. Chao: That happens to a lot of people because they are put in a dilemma of whether they should fix it with a very painful, drawn out gum grafting procedure, just try to ignore it, or try a temporary fix by placing a filling on the exposed root.
How long does the standard gum grafting procedure take?
Dr. Chao: Well, the standard procedure requires cutting out a graft of the gum from the palate and grafting it to where it’s needed. This creates two surgical wounds that patients have to deal with. To delicately cut and remove the graft tissue and attach it with sutures takes about an hour to an hour and a half for just one or two teeth. This requires the patient to recuperate for about two or three weeks.
What’s the key to your procedure?
Dr. Chao: The key to The Pinhole® Surgical Technique is that we don’t have to perform graft. We go through a pinhole which is made by a needle, so there’s no scalpel or cutting at all. Then we can literally shift the tissue down with very little trauma to the tissue. Also, there are no open wounds. It’s so minimally invasive; nothing could be more noninvasive in dentistry than this. I know that if you’re not used to seeing things like this it seems like it’s quite traumatic, but really it’s very, very minimal. There’s so much blood supply and so much collagen in the area that when you see the patient the next day, you can hardly tell if anything was done. The tiny pinhole that’s been made shrinks away by the next day.
So, you’re just moving the collagen around, correct?
Dr. Chao: I’m just moving the gum tissue which has abundant collagen in it. The collagen strips that I put in are used it to stabilize the gum flap. The collagen causes the body to regenerate more collagen tissue, so it serves a dual purpose.
How long will this last?
Dr. Chao: This is expected to be permanent, and last as long as any other procedure. Nothing is forever of course, because there the normal aging process goes on. However, if everything is healthy and there is no over-brushing, I’ve seen this last years and years.
Does this procedure cure gum disease?
Dr. Chao: It’s not meant to cure gum disease. The Pinhole® Surgical Technique is meant to restore the gum line to normal. Any treatment for gum disease treatment must be done before having this procedure. So, we want to do it in a mouth that is not infected with any kind of inflammatory process, such as periodontal disease.
How long have you been doing this?
Dr. Chao: I have been performing this procedure since 2006.
Are there any risks to this technique?
Dr. Chao: The risks are very minimal, especially compared to other procedures.
What does the procedure cost?
Dr. Chao: It's about the same cost as the standard gum grafting procedures, but without the cutting, pain and downtime. Also, there is no limit to the amount of teeth that can be treated with the Pinhole procedure in one treatment session.
How did you even think of coming up with this technique?
Dr. Chao: Well, it was just a necessity. I just didn’t see why dentistry had to have a procedure that hurt so much. So, I investigated it and it dawned on me that there is another way altogether to treat receding gums.
This was published in a very prestigious journal, right?
Dr. Chao: Yes. It was published by the International Journal of Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry, one of the most respected journals in dentistry.