John C. Chao, D.D.S.

Research Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Ostrow School of Dentistry, USC

(626) 308-9104

News & Press

Alhambra Dentist Honored for Revolutionary Patent for Gum Repair

Alhambra dentist, Dr. John Chao, was honored on June 11, 2012, at his office, by the Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina for inventing a method of repairing receded gums, for which he was awarded two patents and a trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with the assistance of patent specialist, Attorney Kumar Maheshwari from the law firm of Foley and Lardner, LLP. An article describing and authenticating this method, called the "Pinhole Surgical Technique"®, has been accepted for publication by the International Journal of Periodontics and Restorative Dentistry and will be published online in July and will be published in print in October, 2012.

Mayor Barbara Messina honored Dr. Chao and made this statement:
"As mayor, I'm extremely honored to recognize one of Alhambra's finest dentists, Dr. John Chao, for his revolutionary gum repair process – the Pinhole Surgical Technique® – which has been awarded two patents and a trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In less than 20 minutes and with minimal discomfort, Dr. Chao’s innovative process will enable literally millions of people to obtain immediate restoration of their gum lines without the customary pain, swelling and bleeding associated with traditional methods. Alhambra is extremely proud that Dr. Chao is a member of our community and that Alhambra will soon become the training ground for the dissemination of this cutting-edge new technique!"

>There are literally millions of people who are self-conscious about showing a "long tooth" when they smile, according to Dr. Chao, a faculty member of the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. This long-tooth appearance resulted from over-brushing the front teeth and causing the gums to recede away from the normal gum line. Left untreated the gums may recede further and seriously affect the long-term prospects of the tooth. Dental decay can attack the tooth as well as sensitivity to cold.

"Up until now, the gold standard for repairing receded gums (long-tooth syndrome) is to harvest a small piece of tissue from the roof of the mouth and graft it onto the tooth where the gum shrunk away. Unfortunately this time-honored, reliable method is associated with a great deal of unwelcome symptoms, such as pain, swelling and bleeding during the healing period. The Pinhole Surgical Technique® calls for the use of specially designed, patented instruments that, in the hands of the experienced dentist, can restore the gums to its normal position through one tiny "pinhole," which measures less than 1/25th of an inch, without cutting or stitching. The average surgical time per tooth is only 20 minutes, less than half the time of the traditional method. Discomfort of any sort is minimal. The patients in the study only took 1.2 non-prescription, over-the-counter pain pills on the average. Almost without exception, patients in this study reported that they were very pleased to see immediate restoration of the position of the gum line."

Asked whether this method is available anywhere else at this moment, Dr. Chao said, "Although this service is only available at my practice right now,  plans are underway to use my office on First Street as a weekend training center to teach as many dentists as possible to be competent in this method. I am also looking into possibilities of collaborating with dental schools in California and other states to widely disseminate information regarding the Pinhole Surgical Technique® and eventually facilitating the incorporation of this method into their pre-doctoral and post-doctoral curriculum."

Dr. Chao is the well-known host of Smile Talk, a dental radio show on KFWB, AM 980, which airs 7-8 p.m. on Sundays. He is a lecturer and clinical instructor at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC on the subject of Anxiety & Pain Management and Ethics & Professionalism. Dr. Chao was recently named the Outstanding Faculty of Year for 2012 at his alma mater, USC.  He has been a regular columnist for Around Alhambra since 1995.

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