YOUR HEALTH: A better smile without surgery

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ALHAMBRA, California – Marichel Esguerra had two gum grafts, trying to fix recession at the base of her dental implants.

Neither worked.

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

Marichel flew from her home near San Francisco to L-A when she heard about Dr. John Chao's Pinhole Implant Rejuvenation technique.

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

Nearly three million Americans have dental implants, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

Most of the procedures go well but sometimes there is gum loss that causes self-consciousness and tooth sensitivity.

When this recession occurs, gaps can occur between the teeth and the gum line making it easy for bacteria to build up.

If left untreated, the structure of the teeth can be damaged, and may eventually result in tooth loss.

It is a common dental problem which most people do not realize they have because it happens gradually.   Usually it begins with tooth sensitivity or a tooth may look longer than normal, and a notch may be felt near the gum line.

In this procedure, Dr. Chao removes the tooth's crown and the abutment it sits on.  Then he 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 it needs to be and the gums will grow to where it needs to be to attach to the implant," he said.

Pinhole implant rejuvenation takes 30 minutes, then an hour for one implant.  It can take longer for more teeth.

Dr. Chao says the cost is similar to the cost of grafting, but there's less pain, less swelling, and less recovery time.

He has trained about 2500 dentists across the country to use this technique.

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

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

NEW TECHNOLOGY: John Chao, DDS, MADG, invented a scalpel-free and suture-free procedure to correct gum recession. Through a small hole using a needle, specifically designed instruments are used to gently loosen gum tissue and slide it over the receded part of the tooth or teeth. With no cutting or stitching, patients can expect minimal post-operative symptoms. The procedure takes about one to two hours, depending on how many teeth need to be covered. Patients in most cases are back to work the next day after the procedure.  (Source:

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at


Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.