What is Preventive Dental Care?
Preventive dental care is an important element in maintaining good oral health. It includes practices that support teeth and gums such as; brushing, flossing, maintaining a healthy diet, and seeing a dentist regularly for checkups and routine cleanings.
The basics of Preventative Dental Care
The most obvious, and no doubt the most important element of preventative dental care, is brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing helps to remove plaque from the surfaces and in between the teeth. Some basic recommendations that can easily be followed at home include;
- Brush twice a day
- Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles (biodegradable toothbrushes are a good choice)
- Use a gentle, circular motion
- Brush the tongue or use a tongue scraper
- Replace toothbrush every three or four months (sooner if the bristles begin to wear)
- Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner (wide floss is best)
- Rinse using a fluoride and alcohol-free mouth wash such as Xylitol based rinses
Use a Natural Mouthwash
Using a natural mouthwash in combination with routine brushing and flossing is the best way to reduce oral bacteria and maintain (or achieve) optimal oral health and hygiene. In addition to being gentle for people with sensitive mouths, the essential oils and herbal extracts found in many natural oral rinses are also valued for their therapeutic properties. Natural preservative-free oral rinses that contain specific essential oils can offer antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties – beyond what you might typically expect to find in commercial mouth wash products.
Healthy Diet – Healthy Teeth
Good nutrition combined with a well-balanced diet is one of the best defenses against tooth decay and periodontal disease. Choosing the right combination of vitamins, minerals and supplements can help to support teeth and gums and also promote a healthy immune system – which in turn helps to ward off disease and decay. Eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates all too often leave behind harmful acids and bacteria that linger in the mouth and lead to tooth decay and serious gum issues. The biggest culprits include carbonated beverages, sugary fruit juices and starchy foods such as pasta, bread and cereal.
Maintaining a healthy diet to support healthy bones, gums and teeth is paramount for maintaining optimal oral health. The best diet is low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, high in fresh ‘alive’ foods such as vegetables and fruits, as well as nuts and legumes and contains a healthy dose of natural probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, kombucha tea, and kefir. An alkaline rich diet sourced naturally from dark green vegetables, root vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, etc.) is nutrient dense and offers important teeth and bone supporting elements such as; beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C, E, and K; folate; calcium and numerous other minerals.
Your doctor may also provide patients with an oral flora analysis which helps to determine what combination of supplements, homeopathy and probiotics will help a patient rebalance oral flora. An oral flora analysis helps patients to resolve gastrointestinal issues such as candida albicans overgrowth which can affect both the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. This process helps to reduce oral inflammation and eliminate oral pathogens by rebalancing the gut bacteria to support overall healthfulness.
Exercise Prevents Periodontal Disease
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Dentistry reported that people who exercise regularly are at a reduced risk of periodontitis (gum disease). Although some of the data pertaining to exercise and periodontitis may be due to people in the study also engaging in an overall healthy lifestyle (including diet, weight, etc.), but the impact of exercise revealed in this study is significant. The study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University, involved more than 12,000 people and identified three key factors that resulted in better oral health – with an average of 40 percent reduction in gum problems. They included:
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining optimal weight
- Healthy Diet (Low in Sugars)
Researchers concluded that engaging in the recommended level of exercise is associated with lower incidents of periodontitis (especially among never and former smokers).
How often should I see my dentist?
Poor oral hygiene can lead to a variety of dental and medical problems such as inflammation, dementia, bone loss, heart disease, arthritis, strokes and more. Routine checkups and teeth cleanings can lower a persons’ risk of developing many chronic illnesses while helping to ensure a healthy oral environment.
The general rule of thumb for healthy people with a low risk of developing cavities or gum disease is to see their dentist about once a year. People with a high risk of dental disease such as smokers or diabetics might need to visit more frequently – up to every three or four months, or as recommended by the dentist. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Glenn Sperbeck call 310-670-6944 or to learn more visit our website.
Who’s Afraid of a Little Dentistry?
It turns out that quite a few people are afraid of the dentist; up to 75 percent of adults report that they experience some form of dental anxiety. For the vast majority of dental anxiety sufferers, it’s the more invasive procedures – such as oral surgery – that really sets them off, while more routine procedures are much easier to deal with and provoke only a mild sense of anxiety.
Up to 10 percent of those same adults lean towards phobic on the fear scale, to the point that they avoid dental work until it’s too late. This, of course can lead to more severe dental issues resulting in the necessity of more time in the dentist’s chair, which then results in … more fear of the dentist. A vicious cycle for anyone trying to avoid the dentist. What’s the alternative for someone who experiences anxiety when it comes to dentistry? One answer is; sedation dentistry.
What is sedation dentistry?
Sedation dentistry describes the use of medication to induce a sense of relaxation in patients during dental procedures. Most patients choose the mildest form of sedative, making it possible for them to be awake yet still very relaxed (Conscious Sedation Dentistry). The opposite end of that spectrum is general anesthesia which induces complete unconsciousness. The full range of options runs from minimal – awake and relaxed, moderate – more deeply relaxed (may not remember procedure), deep – still aware but on the edge of consciousness and can be easily awoken, to deep sleep under general anesthesia. Sedation dentistry may also be appropriate for people who:
- Have a low pain tolerance or very sensitive teeth
- Require extensive dental work
- Have anxiety associated with needles
Patients who chose to remain fully to somewhat conscious during the procedure are undergoing what is generally called ‘Conscious Sedation’. Although patients are not completely unconscious while undergoing Conscious Sedation Dentistry, many patients are so relaxed that they may nap through the dental appointment and very few associate any unpleasant memory following the experience. Some added benefits of sedation dentistry may include;
- A shorter treatment time
- Less jaw pain following procedure (particularly in people who suffer from TMJ)
- More dental work can be done in a session
- Less back/neck/shoulder strain (sometimes associated with sitting in a dental chair)
For sedation dentistry, a prescription medication is administered which induces a drowsy, relaxed feeling. This medication can be administered orally or intravenously (IV), depending on the desired results. The use of any sedation medication – with the exception of nitrous oxide – requires the patient to have someone available to drive them to and from the dental office, due to the relaxing effects of the medication that tend to linger after the procedure. The patient’s vital signs are monitored throughout any procedure involving sedation.
Most Common Sedatives Used in Dentistry
Inhaled minimal sedation. This form of sedation uses nitrous oxide (laughing gas) mixed with oxygen which is inhaled through a mask over the nose. The dental practitioner is able to control the amount of sedation, and the effects of the gas usually wears off quickly.
Oral sedation. The level of sedation achieved using oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. This involves the ingestion of a pill called Halcion, (related to Valium). This pill is usually taken about an hour before the procedure resulting in a drowsy wakefulness. A slightly larger dose produces a moderate level of sedation – the level most commonly associated with sedation dentistry.
IV moderate sedation. This requires the use of a sedative applied intravenously. It works quite rapidly and is readily adjustable by the dentist making it possible to regulate the dosage to a patients’ comfort level easier than some other sedation medications
Deep sedation and general anesthesia. Using the above method of application, medications are administered that result in near-to-total unconsciousness during the procedure. While under general anesthesia the patient cannot be easily awakened until the effects of the anesthesia wear off, or until they are reversed with medication.
Who Should Avoid Sedation Dentistry?
As with any medication there is a risk in taking anesthesia. When administered by an experienced dentist who has pre-screened the patient for any potential complication, sedation dentistry is quite safe. Some high risk groups should talk to a doctor before undergoing any type of anesthesia, including those who have a known heart condition, are obese or who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Other known risk factors include;
- High blood pressure
- Recent heart health incident
- Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism
- Angina pectoris
- People taking antidepressants, beta blockers or cocaine
Armfield JM, Stewart JF, Spencer AJ (2007). “The vicious cycle of dental fear: exploring the interplay between oral health, service utilization and dental fear”. BMC Oral Health 7: 1. doi:10.1186/1472-6831-7-1. PMC 1784087. PMID 17222356.
Rai, K, Hegde, A, and Goel, K. Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, 2007; vol 32: pp 1-4.
American Dental Association: “Policy Statement: The Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists.”
Joel M. Weaver, DDS, PhD, dentist anesthesiologist; emeritus professor, College of Dentistry, The Ohio State University; spokesman, American Dental Association.
American Dental Association: “Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and Anesthesia by Dentists.”
Reviewed by Michael Friedman, DDS on November 29, 2015
© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kleinknecht RA, Thorndike RM, McGlynn FD, Harkavy J (January 1984). “Factor analysis of the dental fear survey with cross-validation”. J Am Dent Assoc 108 (1): 59–61. PMID 6582116.
Armfield JM, Stewart JF, Spencer AJ (2007). “The vicious cycle of dental fear: exploring the interplay between oral health, service utilization and dental fear”. BMC Oral Health 7: 1. doi:10.1186/1472-6831-7-1. PMC 1784087. PMID 17222356.
Armfield JM, Spencer AJ, Stewart JF (March 2006). “Dental fear in Australia: who’s afraid of the dentist?”. Aust Dent J 51 (1): 78–85. doi:10.1111/j.1834-7819.2006.tb00405.x. PMID 16669482.
Correcting A Misaligned Bite Can Add a Youthful Look to Your Years
Do you suffer from nagging neck pain, persistently stiff jaw, severe headaches and/or do you habitually grind your teeth? If so, you may have a misaligned bite or ‘malocclusion’. A malocclusion exists when the teeth and jaw joints do not properly fit together. It manifests as an under-bite, overbite or spacing between teeth and overcrowding problems. These types of malocclusions can cause a wide range of dental and secondary issues, and dramatically impact facial esthetics – which can take a real toll on a person’s self-esteem. Seeing your holistic dental practitioner for a bite assessment can lead to a better profile, healthier teeth, more restful nights and fewer headaches.
Malocclusion vs. Misalignment
When a person’s bite is misaligned, an uneven distribution of pressure is put on both the teeth and jaw, particularly while chewing. This misalignment can cause many issues including tooth pain due to loose fillings, broken crowns or chipped and crooked teeth, recessed gums, TMJ (clicking and popping of the jaw), difficulty opening or closing the mouth and ringing in the ears. It can also lead to muscle strain which can cause frequent headaches or sinus pain, and difficulty or discomfort when biting or chewing.
A malocclusion is also considered one of the most likely culprits in patients who complain of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Chronic headaches are a well-recognized symptom of malocclusion that results from the uneven pressure placed on the teeth and jaw. The poor alignment of the teeth can be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, can result from an injury or stem from several childhood factors including inadequate nutrition. A bite analysis conducted by a dental professional can help to determine the level of correction needed and the type of treatment options a patient and dentist might consider.
Why You Should Seek Treatment of Malocclusion and TMJ
When looking at malocclusion, holistic dentistry focuses on the relationships of the teeth, facial muscles and jaw as a way to bring the whole body into healthy balance. Proper functioning of the temporomandibular joint or ‘TMJ’ is important for a well-aligned bite and healthy teeth. When injury to the jaw occurs, or if a malocclusion has been diagnosed, TMJ dysfunction may result, and create any number of problems that can impact a person’s overall health.
Benefits of treating malocclusion are many and include; a reduced risk of tooth decay as a malocclusion often causes an uneven wear pattern on the teeth which can lead to early tooth erosion and decay; improved oral hygiene by reducing overcrowding and making it easier to clean the teeth and gums effectively. There is also a reduction in the risk of TMJ or temporomandibular jaw syndrome which is often linked to a malocclusion. And, by realigning the teeth, pressure on the jaw is reduced, thereby eliminating many of the painful symptoms associated with malocclusion. Malocclusion correction can also improve facial aesthetics and lead to a greater sense of self-esteem.
How to Tell If You Have a Malocclusion
The best way to test for a malocclusion is by way of a bite analysis which is a relatively simple procedure that is done in a dental office. For this procedure, the patient bites down on the mouth piece of a handheld scanning device. This device measures the pressure and force of a person’s bite from all angles. It will reveal which teeth undergo more pressure, determine where upper and lower teeth do not meet, and if there is a misalignment of the teeth or jaw. A bite analysis is quick, simple and painless – and it can provide valuable information regarding oral health and reveal many complications associated with malocclusion.
The most ideal treatment for a malocclusion doesn’t involve painful braces, surgery or grinding on healthy teeth – and of course, the best treatment is non-surgical and non-invasive. For some patients, dental aligners such as Invisalign® is the preferred treatment. These braces are removable, invisible to the naked eye and work in much the same way as fixed dental braces, without distracting from the aesthetics of the smile.
A simple mouth guard may be the prescribed treatment in milder cases, and in some people, can make a significant difference at relieving symptoms of a misaligned bite.
Patients who have suffered from bite malocclusion for many years are often interested in the non-surgical treatment Face Lift Dentistry®. This exclusive treatment can reverse the appearance of years of aging while replacing old fillings, bridges and crowns with healthy biologically matching restorations that are made to idealize the bite and the shape of the patients face.
A preferred treatment for malocclusions is with the use of the functional osteopathic teeth straightening palate expansion device called Advanced Lightwire Functionals (ALF). This device addresses misalignment of teeth, facial bone reformation, TMJ pain, as well as troublesome sleep apnea. For many patients, the ALF orthodontic appliance helps to relieve chronic pain and remedy many of the common physical ailments associate with malocclusions. It offers far less discomfort than braces, is much less painful, and is easily removable for cleaning.
Malocclusion and Orthodontics: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tc/malocclusion-and-orthodontics-topic-overview
Those ‘Silver’ Fillings Are Actually Quicksilver
For years now, groups like the Environmental Protection Agency and The National Institute of Standards and Technology have been working to curtail the use and proliferation of mercury thermometers1 because of the dangers that they pose to both consumers and the environment. Wikipedia says, “Mercury is used primarily for the manufacture of industrial chemicals or for electrical and electronic applications,” but did you know the EPA estimates that over half the mercury used in the U.S. today is currently resting in the mouths of dental patients2? “Silver” dental amalgams are actually comprised of about 50% pure mercury.
Use of mercury amalgam fillings is still allowed and surprisingly widespread in the U.S., though an increasing number of patients and doctors are choosing to avoid them. Some countries in Europe have started banning them3, as the dangers of mercury amalgam dental fillings are becoming more and more well known.
Even at room temperature, mercury evaporates. This being the case, silver fillings will continuously secrete mercury vapor over their entire lifetime. Chewing, consuming hot foods, and grinding teeth are among the activities that will increase the rate at which this vapor is released. This is significant, because mercury vapor can easily invade your body through the respiratory system or even be absorbed through your skin into the bloodstream. From there, the toxic metal can spread throughout the body or accumulate in more concentrated pockets, most commonly in the liver4, kidneys5, and brain6.
Mercury vapor inhalation produces a molecular lesion in brain protein that is similar to those found in 80% of alzheimer’s patients’ brains7. The damage to neuronal cells can be evident in behavioral symptoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability, or physical symptoms such as tremors, headaches, and fatigue. Mercury also damages the blood brain barrier making the brain more susceptible to damage from other heavy metals to which we all have environmental exposure.
Studies suggest a correlation between mercury exposure and fatty liver disease. Oxidation of cells in the liver along with inflammation of the lymph nodes caused by mercury toxicity can lead to allergies and other complications of the immune system.
While the most common effect of acute mercury toxicity is kidney damage and renal failure, mercury exposure also leads to gastrointestinal complications and circulatory problems. It is especially detrimental to early childhood and fetal development. In essence, mercury can and will wreak havoc on almost any biological system with which it comes into contact, and there is no safe level of mercury exposure.
Minimizing the Danger During Removal
While patients with mercury amalgam fillings are continuously exposed to mercury vapor, the concentration of said vapor and level of exposure is generally at its highest when the filling is being placed. The removal of these fillings also releases exceptionally high levels of vapor, especially when certain methods are used. Unfortunately, the standard of care for removing metal fillings is very inconsistent in the dental industry. This makes it crucially important for patients seeking the safe removal of their mercury fillings to choose a dentist that has a carefully implemented mercury removal protocol.
Multiple precautions must be taken8 to ensure that the patient is not exposed to mercury through the skin or to vapors through the respiratory system. There are environmental concerns with regard to the disposal of this toxic material. Furthermore, protective measures are needed to ensure that other patients and staff are not subject to mercury vapor exposure in the office as a result of these procedures.
These precautions include keeping the temperature of the amalgam as low as possible during removal, so as not to release excess levels of vapor. The office should have an effective suction system with proper discharge disposal. Protective material should be strategically positioned to protect the soft tissue in and around the mouth as well as the airway. The patient should have clean air piped in through the nose during the procedure, so as not to be breathing the air immediately surrounding the mercury removal site. Ambient air evacuation or filtration are needed to protect others in the office from mercury vapor exposure. All staff involved in the removal procedure should cover all of their skin and wear respirators to avoid the immediate and accumulative toxic effects of mercury exposure.
Dr. Sperbeck has long understood the importance of practicing mercury free dentistry. Furthermore, he is one of the few dental practitioners in all of Los Angeles with both the knowledge and experience to free patients from ongoing exposure to mercury vapor without exacerbating the problem in the process. If you would like to make your mouth a mercury-free zone, call today to schedule a consultation.
1 Peter Gwynne. “Mercury Thermometers Face Final Phase Out.” USNews.com. Inside Science News Service. 25 Feb. 2011. Web. 29 Feb 2016. 2 “A Comprehensive Review of the Toxic Effects of Mercury in Dental Amalgam Fillings on the Environment and Human Health.” iaomt.org. The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. 2016. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. 3 Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. “Mercury Dental Amalgams Banned in 3 Countries.” Orthomolecular.org. International Schizophrenia foundation. 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. 4 Nicole Cutler. “Update on Toxins Harming the Liver.” LiverSupport.com. Natural Wellness. 20 Apr. 2008. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. 5 Boyd ND, Benediktsson H, Vimy MJ, Hooper DE, Lorscheider FL. “Mercury from Dental ‘Silver’ Tooth Fillings Impairs Sheep Kidney Function. iaomt.org. Am J Physiol. 1991; 261(4 Pt 2):R1010-R1014. PubMed ID: 1928419. 2016. Web. 29 Feb. 2016 6 “Get the Mercury Out: The Effects of Mercury on the Nervous System.” Faculty.Washington.edu. Washington University. n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. 7 Russell Blaylock, M.D. “How Mercury Causes Brain Degeneration.” Online video. YouTube.com. University of Calgary. 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. 8 “Safe Removal of Amalgam Fillings.” iaomt.org. International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.
Ozone Therapy in Dentistry and Beyond
When most people hear the word ‘ozone’ the first thing that comes to mind usually has something to do with atmospheric conditions over the Antarctic. For those of us in the holistic dental field, ozone means much more.
The Facts About Ozone
Ozone, a gas known as O3, is a versatile bio-oxidative therapy in which oxygen/ozone is administered to a patient to obtain therapeutic benefits. Ozone therapy has been used for treatment of various diseases for more than a century. Its unique properties, noninvasive nature, absence of side effects or adverse reactions drew attention from healthcare practitioners who rightly viewed it as an important medical treatment. In dentistry, Ozone is used today in a variety of ways; in its gaseous form, as ozonated water and as ozonated oils. In all aspects of the medical field, the high oxidation potential of ozone makes is an exciting element in the fight against:
- Protozoa (an advanced type of fungus)
Laboratory studies have long proven the promising potential of ozone therapy in dentistry, and it is used more and more in applications at dental offices all over the world. Recognized as a preventive therapy in dental cavities or caries and an effective disinfectant in root canal work, ozone has also been used successfully in the treatment of more severe conditions including bone diseases of the jaw. It is powerful in the prevention of plaque formation and it is sometimes added to the dental unit water line to purify and disinfect water.
No matter how it is used, ozone is completely painless in its application, biocompatible and helps to stimulate blood circulation while increasing the body’s natural immune response.
Ozone Applications are Endless
Research on the use of ozone indicates that it may lend itself to a variety of health optimizing therapies in many medical modalities. The natural oxidizing properties of O3 is known to promote health in a variety of ways including;
- Increases oxygenation in blood cells
- Boosts the immune system
- Increases energy production in cells
- Reduces acidity in the body
- Kills cancer cells
Prevention and Ozone Therapy in Dentistry
The use of ozone therapy in dentistry is particularly exciting when it comes to preventative care. With its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties it can not only stop the growth of cavities it may actually prevent and reverse the damage caused by cavities. Ozone’s capacity to oxidize – or essential dissolve bacterial cells makes it possible to completely halt the production of bacteria. As an agent of oxidation, ozone proves lethal to a range of harmful microorganisms without damaging healthy living cells in this process.
When ozone is used in conjunction with re-mineralizing agents it promotes the regeneration of hard, healthy tooth structure. And under the right conditions ozone therapy can lead to remineralization of a decayed tooth, potentially restoring it to complete health.
Another way ozone lends itself to healing and prevention is in the treatment of periodontitis, or gum disease. Periodontitis is bacterial in nature and since ozone has been proven effective at eliminating bacteria, it is the perfect treatment for this disease. In addition to its antimicrobial aspects, ozone’s anti-inflammatory properties make it highly beneficial in fighting gum disease and promoting long-term healing process.
The Bottom Line on Ozone
The availability of ozone treatment in both the medical field and the dental field is rather low in the United States when compared to its use in other developed nations. But, as research continues to prove that ozone is an effective and safe treatment, demand for its use can only continue to rise. While traditional dental practices prefer to stick with the tried-and-true methods of invasive dentistry alone, ozone therapy is fast becoming a fundamental element in the standard of care for modern holistic and natural dentistry practices. Today ozone is used in almost all aspects of dentistry.
Dr. Sperbeck works in unison with qualified health experts, creating complete dental and general health programs for patients. When it comes to something as valuable as your teeth, you want to be sure they remain strong and beautiful for a lifetime. To learn more about what Ozone Therapy can do for you call our office at 844-855-8821.
Well, if you’re the patient getting operated on, maybe you don’t think it’s so cool. Unless you’re the rare exception who likes needles in your gums.
But you should be excited, because this technique will allow your gums to be shaped with minimal risk, pain, and down-time. Its inherently minimally invasive and low-maintenance. There is no cutting or suturing, and healing is quick.
This technique was developed fairly recently by a man named Dr. Chao, and it is taking off internationally as the preferred method of gum shaping after periodontal or gingival treatment.
Note that this is solely meant to restore the gum line for the purpose of aesthetics and functionality. It is not gum disease treatment, and it must be done in a disease-free mouth. So this is something I’d do after my patient has successfully undergone therapy for gum disease and only needs the gums to shrink back up around the teeth.
It sure beats the traditional method, however, of grafting gum tissue from another area of the mouth.
Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles
How do people end up with recessed gums? Gum recession is a common result brought about by gum disease (or its more advanced stages of gingivitis and periodontitis) and abrasive over-brushing (brushing your teeth too harshly too often with the wrong brush). Perhaps poor dental work in the past has caused an imbalance in the mouth, possibly a bite malfunction that has, over time, negatively affected occlusal (bite) functionality.
As a side note, yes, even slight imbalances in bite mechanics can cause long-term diseases and vulnerabilities that seem unrelated. That’s why holistic dentistry is so important: we get to the root of the problem, considering the whole patient. If you try treating gum recession without first considering the possibility of TMJ problems, mercury poisoning and tissue rejection from amalgam fillings, or miscalculated restorations, you may only have to do it again, with poorer results each time.
So why is gum recession a problem? Recessed gums weaken and loosen the roots of teeth, exposing the vulnerable parts to physical injury and infectious bacteria. Gum recession sets the stage for tooth decay and tooth loss. Practicality aside, bad cases of gum recession are not aesthetically pleasing and may cause patients to be self-conscious.
In my next post, I’ll talk a little bit more about the Pinhole Surgery Technique (PST) by Dr. Chao that’s used to correct gum recession without surgery.
What about you? Have you had any experience with gum recession, or do you know someone else who has? News of this Pinhole Surgery Technique may be a welcome relief, then… or maybe something you wish your dentist knew a long time ago.
Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles
Traditionally, the way gum recession is treated is by performing gum grafts. Gum grafts are essentially stitching extra gum tissue (taken from elsewhere in the patient’s mouth) to the affected area, sewing everything up, and waiting several months for it to merge and heal and return the patient to normal. This method is effective and is how dentists are trained to treat more severe cases of gum recession. However, gum grafting is slow, invasive, riskier, and generally an involved, expensive process that interferes with the patient’s daily life.
That’s why I am so excited about the PST. If you saw the video I previously shared, you can see an illustration of the two methods compared side-by-side. The PST is a quick, simple, low-maintenance procedure with healthy and natural-looking results. I imagine patients would watch it and think, “Why on earth have dentists not come up with this sooner?” I agree. Sometimes solutions come along that are just so logical, so sensible, it makes you wonder why we even started out with more complicated treatments. Kudos to Dr. Chao!
PST is a method by which a tool is inserted directly into the gum tissue and is used to gently, partially separate the tissue from the underlying facial bones. The tool is like a hooked needle, which sounds awful, but it means nothing gets sliced up; the only mark left behind is — you guessed it — a little pinhole that heals up in a matter of hours.
After the insertion and loosening of the gum tissue, the gums are then pushed downward (or upward, depending on where we’re working) in sweeping motions around sterile teeth. When the gums are nice and cozy up against the teeth again, treatment is finished. Collagen is then inserted behind the gums to stabilize them and speed up the healing process.
Essentially, the Pinhole Technique not only physically manipulates the gums so that they once again surround and envelop the teeth, but also stimulates the surrounding area so the gums continue to grow and flourish and stay put in their proper place. A clean, disease-free environment is important, however, and this technique is not appropriate while gum disease is present.
Healing takes place in a matter of days, even overnight for some cases. The patient may not have to take time off work or interrupt his or her busy life. The pain and medical risks are minimal, if any. It is truly amazing, and I’m excited to incorporate it into my practice. I hope many future patients will benefit from this new technique.
Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles