Dentist works to replace painful surgery with smiles

FRESNO, Calif.

No surgery, no sutures, all smiles. That's what Doctor John Chao wanted for his patients.

"I just didn't see why dentistry has to have a procedure that hurts so much," said dentist Dr. John Chao.

Conventional gum grafting is painful. Dentists remove tissue from the roof of the mouth and then graft it onto the receded gum. Now, doctor Chao has developed a new, almost painless procedure called the pinhole surgical technique.

Doctor Chao does not cut but uses a needle to make a small hole above the diseased area.

"We'll loosen up the gum and let it drape down to where it's supposed to be. We'll reinforce it with some collagen," Chao said.

The pinhole procedure uses a needle, can correct 10 to 14 teeth at once, takes about 20 minutes for up to three teeth, and recovery is less than a day. Traditional surgery requires two incisions, only corrects one to two teeth at a time, takes almost two hours, and there's a three-week recovery.

Joyce Ann Flint was one of the first to have it done three years ago. Doctors say it is a permanent procedure and should not need to be repeated.

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