Health Beat

Health Beat: Dental surgery: No scalpel needed

Health Beat: Dental surgery: No...

LOS ANGELES - Marichel Esguerra had two gum grafts, trying to fix recession at the base of her dental implants. Neither worked.

"My gums have receded and it's showing all the roots when I smile, so I have this insecurity all the time," Esguerra said.

Esguerra flew from her home in the Bay Area to Los Angeles when she heard about Dr. John Chao's pinhole implant rejuvenation technique.

"We can basically move the gums down to where they should be without any of the cutting or stitching that's required of a normal grafting procedure," Chao explained.

After removing the crown and the abutment it sits on, Chao makes pinholes in the gum and loosens tissue, pulling it down over the exposed root. A few strips of collagen and sometimes growth factor follow.

"And lo and behold, we have the gums where they need to be, and the gums will grow to where they need to be to attach to the implant," Chao stated.

"This procedure is beyond my expectations," Esguerra said. "The result was amazing, and I'm speechless."

She took Advil the day of treatment and was back to her job as a nurse almost immediately.

Pinhole implant rejuvenation takes 30 minutes, then an hour for one implant and longer for more teeth. Chao said the cost is similar to the cost of grafting, but there's less pain, less swelling, and less recovery time. He has trained about 2,500 dentists across the country to use the technique.

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