By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
January 23, 2020
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: Veneers  

Are you unhappy with your smile but don't want to undergo extensive dental work just to fix a relatively minor tooth flaws? Dental veneers offer a simpler solution. Whether you've have a small chip in a tooth, a discolored tooth or other cosmetic issues, your Columbia, SC, dentist, Dr. Joel Johnson, can help you transform your smile with veneers.

What are veneers?

Veneers conceal minor damage and imperfections without any major alterations to the structure of your teeth. Made of porcelain or plastic, veneers are no thicker than a fingernail. They're attached to the fronts of the teeth, the area where flaws are most noticeable.

Are veneers right for me?

Veneers are an excellent choice for many people in the Columbia, SC, area. They're often used to conceal chips in teeth, hide shallow cracks, or make bumpy or uneven surfaces look smoother.

Orthodontic treatment is very effective in straightening teeth, but it's not always needed if you only have one or two crooked teeth. Adding veneers to the teeth makes them look perfectly straight. The restorations can improve the shape of any oddly shaped tooth, improving the symmetry of your smile.

Veneers also lengthen teeth that have shortened due to wear and tear or grinding. If you grind your teeth, your dentist may recommend that you wear a nightguard while sleeping to prevent damage to your new veneers.

The restorations provide a simple way to close slight gaps between teeth and hide discolorations. If you have one or two discolored teeth, your veneers will match the shade of nearby teeth exactly. When whitening is your goal, you'll choose the perfect shade of white for your smile.

What happens during the veneer process?

During your first veneer appointment, your dentist will lightly file your teeth to remove a tiny amount of tooth enamel. Filing the teeth ensures that your veneers fit comfortably and don't look bulky or unnatural. Your dentist will also make an impression of your mouth, which the dental laboratory will use when creating your restorations.

In about two weeks, you'll return to the office to receive your new veneers. Your dentist will use water or glycerin to temporarily attach the veneers and assess the fit. A few minor alterations may be necessary at this point. After the veneers are adjusted, your dentist will permanently attach them to your teeth with dental cement, completing the transformation of your smile.

Enhance your appearance with veneers! Call Dr. Johnson's office in Columbia, SC, at (803) 788-2555 to schedule your appointment.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
January 23, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Veneers  

Just like adults, teenagers experience chipped, stained or disfigured teeth. And during a life stage where issues with appearance can be acutely painful, these defects call out for a solution.

And, there is one: porcelain veneers. These thin wafers of custom-made porcelain are bonded to the front of teeth to cover dental flaws. They’re one of the least invasive—and most affordable—methods for smile enhancement.

There is one caveat, though: The affected teeth will most likely need alteration. Veneers can look bulky when bonded directly to teeth, so we compensate for this by removing some of the surface enamel. This changes the tooth permanently, to the point that it will always require a veneer or some other form of restoration.

But although this may be a minor issue for an adult, it could pose a problem for a teenager. That’s because the pulp, the innermost layer of a tooth containing nerves and blood vessels, is larger in a younger adolescent tooth than in an older adult tooth. Because of its size, it’s closer to the tooth’s surface. During enamel reduction for veneers on a young tooth, this could lead to inadvertent nerve damage. If that happens, the tooth may need a root canal treatment to preserve it.

If the adolescent tooth needing a “facelift” has already been root canaled or sustained significant structural damage, then altering it for veneers may not be too concerning. Likewise, if the teeth are smaller than normal, the bulkiness of a veneer may actually improve appearance and not require alteration. We’ll need to examine a young patient first before making any recommendations.

There are also alternatives to veneers for improving smile appearance. Enamel staining could be enhanced temporarily with teeth whitening. Small chips can be repaired with bonded dental material, or in skilled hands be used to “build” a veneer one layer at a time with no enamel reduction. Although not as durable as regular veneers, these bonding techniques could buy time until the tooth is more mature for veneers.

Whichever path we take, there are effective ways to transform a teenager’s flawed tooth. And that can make for an even better smile.

If you would like more information on dental restorations for teenagers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Veneers for Teenagers.”

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
January 13, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: pain management  

The ongoing opioid addiction epidemic has brought together government, law enforcement and healthcare to find solutions. The focus among doctors and dentists has been on finding ways to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions.

Opioids (or narcotics) have been a prominent part of pain management in healthcare for decades. Drugs like morphine, oxycodone or fentanyl can relieve moderate to extreme pain and make recovery after illness or procedures much easier. Providers like doctors and dentists have relied heavily on them, writing nearly 260 million narcotic prescriptions a year as late as 2012.

But although effective when used properly, narcotics are also addictive. While the bulk of overall drug addiction stems from illegal narcotics like heroin, prescription drugs also account for much of the problem: In 2015, for example, 2 million Americans had an addiction that began with an opioid prescription.

The current crisis has led to horrific consequences as annual overdose deaths now surpass the peak year of highway accident deaths (just over 54,000 in 1972). This has led to a concerted effort by doctors and dentists to develop other approaches to pain management without narcotics.

One that’s gained recent momentum in dentistry involves the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin work by dilating blood vessels, which reduces painful inflammation. They’re available over the counter, although stronger doses require a prescription.

NSAIDs are effective for mild to moderate pain, but without the addictive properties of narcotics. There are some adverse health consequences if taken long-term, but limited use for pain or during post-procedure recovery is safe.

Many dentists are recommending NSAIDs for first-line pain management after most dental procedures. Narcotics may still be prescribed, but in a limited and controlled fashion. As part of this new approach, dentists typically combine ibuprofen and acetaminophen: Studies have shown the two work together better at reducing pain than either one individually.

Still, many aren’t eager to move away from the proven effectiveness of narcotics to primarily NSAIDs. But as these non-addictive drugs continue to prove their effectiveness, there’s hope the use of addictive opioids will continue to decrease.

If you would like more information on pain management practices in dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
January 10, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Dental Filling  

Do you need a dental filling? If you have active tooth decay, you likely do. Your dentist in Columbia, SC, Dr. Joel Johnson, detects cavities and as needed, places white fillings that strengthen and beautify compromised teeth.

What is tooth decay?

The source of dental cavities, tooth decay is caused by the oral bacteria that is contained in plaque and tartar on tooth surfaces and interdental spaces. These bacteria give off corrosive acids which create the holes in tooth enamel. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that 91 percent of adults under age 65 have at least one cavity. Sadly, untreated cavities may lead to tooth loss.

Signs you have tooth decay

When Dr. Johnson examines a patient's teeth, signs of dental decay are obvious to him. Cavities look like dark spots or even holes on chewing surfaces and interdental spaces.

To the patient, however, signs differ. Depending on how extensive it is, a cavity may give you a throbbing toothache. Or, you may experience sensitivity when you:

  • Chew on something sugary
  • Drink a hot or cold beverage
  • Simply apply the pressures of biting and chewing

Also, you may notice decay if you lose part of an existing filling.

What you can do about tooth decay

Of course, preventive practices help people of all ages avoid tooth decay. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss every day to remove harmful plaque. See your dentist in his Columbia, SC, office every six months for a prophylactic examination, X-rays, and cleaning. Additionally, eat a low sugar diet, and drink plenty of water every day to increase your production of beneficial saliva.

If you do exhibit signs of tooth decay or Dr. Johnson discovers it, count on his advanced treatment techniques to restore your tooth to full form and function. Most of today's fillings are made from tooth-colored composite resin. Durable, natural-looking, and able to withstand normal oral function, these restorations bond directly to tooth structure and require less enamel reduction than dark amalgam fillings.

Contact us

Don't wait if you think that you have a cavity. Call Dr. Joel Johnson for an appointment, and get the care you deserve. Phone our office team in Columbia, SC, at (803) 788-2555.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
January 03, 2020
Category: Oral Health

As a parent, you’re all about helping your kids grow up healthy. But there are some obstacles that can make that difficult. One in particular is tooth decay, which could interfere with their dental development.

A bacterial infection, tooth decay destroys dental tissue—and untreated it could lead to tooth loss. This could severely derail a child’s normal development, even if it’s one of their primary (“baby”) teeth. That’s why preventing tooth decay or treating it promptly when it occurs should be one of your top priorities for your child’s dental health.

Here are 3 things you can do to minimize your child’s risk of tooth decay.

Start oral hygiene early. Your best defense against tooth decay is to clean your child’s teeth daily of dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that’s the main driver for dental disease. The best way to do this is with brushing and flossing, so begin performing these tasks with your child as soon as their teeth begin to appear. Oral hygiene is also important before their teeth come in—simply wipe your infant’s gums after nursing with a clean damp cloth to reduce bacteria in the mouth.

Start dental visits early. By age 1, most children already have quite a few teeth, making it the recommended time to schedule their first dental visit. Not only will this and subsequent visits support your plaque removal efforts, they also give your dentist an opportunity to catch any emerging dental issues. Early visits can also help get your kids used to seeing the dentist, reducing the chances they’ll develop dental visit anxiety later in life.

Avoid “baby bottle decay.” Sugar is one of decay-causing bacteria’s favorite food sources, so restricting your child’s intake of this carbohydrate can lower their decay risk. ┬áBesides limiting sugary snacks and sweets, be sure you do one more thing: eliminate sugar from the nighttime or naptime baby bottle. Parents often lay babies down to sleep with a bottle filled with sugary liquids like juice, milk or formula. Either avoid giving the bottle or make sure it only contains water.

If you would like more information on how to help your kids’ dental development stay on a healthy track, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”

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