Posts for: March, 2018


Root canal treatments are an essential part of dental care — countless teeth with deep decay would be lost each year without it. Now, this traditional dental care procedure is advancing to a new level of precision through lasers.

Root canal treatments have a simple goal: access a tooth's infected pulp and root canals, clean out the infected tissue and fill the empty pulp chamber and canals with a special filling. Once filled, the access is sealed and a porcelain crown later placed for additional protection against re-infection.

In the traditional procedure, we perform these steps manually with a dental drill and hand instruments. We may also need to remove a good portion of tooth structure, both healthy and infected tissue. A laser, on the other hand, is a highly focused beam of light with the ability to interact with healthy and infected tissues differently: destroying infected tissue while having no effect on nearby healthy tissue. The end result: we may be able to remove less healthy tissue with lasers than with the conventional procedure.

Lasers are also helpful with softening and precisely molding the filling material within each canal's particular shape. And, early reports seem to indicate a higher degree of comfort for patients (less drill noise and need for anesthesia), less bleeding and faster recovery times than the conventional approach.

But as a tool for root canal treatments, lasers do have a couple of disadvantages. While light travels in a straight line, root canals are rarely straight — conventional instruments with curved designs usually accommodate odd canal shapes better than a laser. Lasers can also raise temperatures within a tooth that can damage healthy tissue, both within the pulp and outward into the dentin.

Still, lasers for root canal treatments appear promising with some dentists using a combination of lasers and manual techniques to garner benefits from both approaches. While you won't see lasers replacing the traditional root canal treatment anytime soon, the future looks bright for more efficient ways to treat deep tooth decay.

If you would like more information on your options for root canal therapy, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
March 14, 2018
Category: Oral Health

Everyone knows that in the game of football, quarterbacks are looked up to as team leaders. That's why we're so pleased to see some NFL QB's setting great examples of… wait for it… excellent oral hygiene.

First, at the 2016 season opener against the Broncos, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers was spotted on the bench; in his hands was a strand of dental floss. In between plays, the 2105 MVP was observed giving his hard-to-reach tooth surfaces a good cleaning with the floss.

Later, Buffalo Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was seen on the sideline of a game against the 49ers — with a bottle of mouthwash. Taylor took a swig, swished it around his mouth for a minute, and spit it out. Was he trying to make his breath fresher in the huddle when he called out plays?

Maybe… but in fact, a good mouthrinse can be much more than a short-lived breath freshener.

Cosmetic rinses can leave your breath with a minty taste or pleasant smell — but the sensation is only temporary. And while there's nothing wrong with having good-smelling breath, using a cosmetic mouthwash doesn't improve your oral hygiene — in fact, it can actually mask odors that may indicate a problem, such as tooth decay or gum disease.

Using a therapeutic mouthrinse, however, can actually enhance your oral health. Many commonly available therapeutic rinses contain anti-cariogenic (cavity-fighting) ingredients, such as fluoride; these can help prevent tooth decay and cavity formation by strengthening tooth enamel. Others contain antibacterial ingredients; these can help control the harmful oral bacteria found in plaque — the sticky film that can build up on your teeth in between cleanings. Some antibacterial mouthrinses are available over-the-counter, while others are prescription-only. When used along with brushing and flossing, they can reduce gum disease (gingivitis) and promote good oral health.

So why did Taylor rinse? His coach Rex Ryan later explained that he was cleaning out his mouth after a hard hit, which may have caused some bleeding. Ryan also noted, “He [Taylor] does have the best smelling breath in the league for any quarterback.” The coach didn't explain how he knows that — but never mind. The takeaway is that a cosmetic rinse may be OK for a quick fix — but when it comes to good oral hygiene, using a therapeutic mouthrinse as a part of your daily routine (along with flossing and brushing) can really step up your game.

If you would like more information about mouthrinses and oral hygiene, contact us or schedule a consultation.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
March 01, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

If you wish you had a brighter or whiter smile, you are in luck. You can improve the appearance of your dull or stained smile with teeth teeth whiteningwhitening, a simple, in-office procedure which can provide dramatic results. But is teeth whitening right for you? Find out more about this procedure and how it can help you with Dr. Joel Johnson at his practice in Columbia, SC.

How does teeth whitening work? 
Teeth whitening uses a chemical reaction between the chemicals in the whitening materials used during the treatment and the stains on your teeth. The chemicals break down the bonds holding together the stain’s molecules. By breaking these bonds, the stain breaks up and its molecules go their separate ways, allowing a whitened appearance.

Can teeth whitening help my smile?
In-office teeth whitening can benefit anyone who wants to brighten or whiten their smile. However, nursing or pregnant women or those with serious teeth sensitivity may not be a good candidate for the procedure. Additionally, patients with porcelain dental restorations like veneers do not make good candidates for teeth whitening since porcelain does not react to the whitening procedure like your natural teeth. This can cause an uneven result.

What to Expect During a Teeth Whitening Procedure 
First, your dentist will separate the teeth from the gums using a dental dam. This ensures that the whitening procedure’s chemicals do not irritate the gums or cause discomfort. Then, your dentist applies the whitening gel and lets it sit on the teeth for about 45 minutes. Depending on the kind of whitening method your dentist uses, a UV light directed at the teeth may help with the whitening process. After the procedure, your dentist will rinse the teeth and you may return to your daily activities immediately.

Teeth Whitening in Columbia, SC
It is important to consult with your dentist prior to receiving a teeth whitening treatment. This will ensure that you are a good candidate for teeth whitening and that other cosmetic procedures, like veneers, are not more suitable to your situation. It also allows you the time you need to ask questions or bring up any concerns you have with teeth whitening. 

For more information on teeth whitening, please contact Dr. Johnson at his practice in Columbia, SC. Call (803) 788-2555 to schedule your appointment today!

Columbia, SC Dentist
Joel E Johnson, DMD, PA
9 Office Park Ct.
Columbia, SC 29223
(803) 788-2555
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