How Successful Are Pinhole Surgical Techniques for Gum Recession?

How Successful Are Pinhole Surgical Techniques for Gum Recession?

Mar 01, 2024

If you’ve noticed your gums receding and exposing more of your teeth, you may consider options to fix the issue. One relatively new technique is called the pinhole surgical technique. It’s a minimally invasive gum grafting procedure that can help regrow gum tissue and cover areas of recession. But how successful is pinhole surgery? What type of regrowth and improvement can you expect?

How does pinhole surgery fix receding gums?

The pinhole surgical technique is an alternative to traditional gum grafting. During traditional grafting, the Periodontal Treatment In San Jose, CA, takes tissue from the roof of the mouth (the palate) and stitches it over the receded gum area after scraping away diseased tissue. It can be quite painful, and recovery is difficult.

With the pinhole technique, your dentist makes a tiny “pinhole” incision of just a few millimeters into the gums above the receded area. Special dental instruments gently loosen the gum tissue and slide it down over the exposed root surfaces through this pinhole. There are no scalpels or sutures used. The tools expand and graft the existing gum tissue over the recession. The small entry incision is left to heal on its own.

It is considered a minimally invasive way to restore gum coverage without grafts. The pinhole approach only uses your existing gum tissue, so there’s no need to take donor tissue from the palate.

What percentage of pinhole patients see gum regrowth?

Studies show the pinhole surgical technique has an excellent success rate for increasing gum coverage over exposed roots. In a particular clinical study published in the International Journal of Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry, the pinhole method treated 115 areas of gum recession. Six months after treatment, 99% of the treated areas showed complete root coverage.

Other studies have backed up these results. A 2021 systematic review of 10 studies on pinhole surgery found an average root coverage of 89% six months after treatment. After a year, studies still showed an average of about 80% root coverage.

Four out of five pinhole surgery patients see significant gum regrowth and coverage of their receding areas after a year. The procedure is highly likely to cover exposed root surfaces effectively.

How long does it take for gums to heal after surgery?

With the minimally invasive pinhole approach, patients experience much faster healing than traditional grafting. There are no sutures, the bleeding is minimal, and there is little to no pain afterward.

Patients report mild post-op symptoms, like slight sensitivity, for the first few days. After 1-2 weeks, most patients feel completely healed and back to normal. Within a couple of weeks, you should be able to resume a normal dental hygiene routine and eat as usual.

In contrast, traditional grafting requires several weeks for the palate to heal fully, and the grafted gums take even longer. The pinhole procedure allows patients to heal in a fraction of the time.

Do results last, or do gums recede again over time?

Excellent root coverage is a lasting result of pinhole surgery. Studies examining the long-term outcomes of pinhole surgery find stable gum levels are maintained.

One study followed patients for three years after pinhole treatment. After three years, the average root coverage was still an impressive 91.5%. Another 5-year study found that, on average, about 85% of root coverage was retained.

As long as excellent oral hygiene is maintained, results can last for years. It is comparable to traditional grafting techniques. However, pinhole surgery achieves similar lasting coverage with faster healing, less pain, no need for donor tissue, and fewer complications.

What is aftercare needed post-pinhole procedure?

Aftercare following pinhole surgery focuses on keeping the area clean while it fully heals. Your dentist in San Jose, CA, will have you follow plaque control instructions like:

  • Brushing twice a day using a soft brush. Avoid the treated area for the first week.
  • Antibacterial rinses should be used daily, starting 24 hours after surgery.
  • Avoid flossing around the pinhole site for one week.
  • Rinsing with warm salt water to keep the area fresh and clean.
  • Taking any prescribed medication as directed.
  • Avoiding smoking, tobacco, alcohol, and spicy/crunchy foods.
  • Using pain medication as needed for mild sensitivity.

Follow up with your dentist in about two weeks to ensure proper healing. With good oral hygiene after pinhole surgery, you can expect improved gum coverage to be maintained long-term.

Are there side effects and downsides to pinhole techniques?

The pinhole approach helps minimize complications and side effects. Patients selected for pinhole surgery must have adequate amounts of gum tissue above the recession.

The most common side effects are temporary increased tooth sensitivity, mild pain, and swelling. These were resolved within a few weeks. Rare complications like infection or reaction to anesthetic can occur.

The main downside is that pinhole surgery may not work for all severe recession cases, especially if little gum tissue remains. Traditional grafting is still often needed for more significant gum loss. But pinhole offers a less invasive option for mild to moderate recession.


Research shows pinhole surgical techniques can achieve around 85% root coverage on average that lasts for years. This minimally invasive approach allows patients to fix receding gums with less pain and faster recovery and avoid palate grafts compared to traditional grafting.

If you have mildly to moderately receding gums, consider pinhole surgery an effective gum restoration option. Schedule a consultation today with Neeshat Khan, DDS in San Jose, CA, to determine if you’re a candidate for pinhole treatment.



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