Posts for category: Dental Procedures

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
December 14, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: fillings  

Dental amalgam—also known as “silver fillings”—has been used for nearly a hundred years to treat cavities. There are several reasons why this mixture of metals has been the go-to material among dentists: Malleable when first applied, dental amalgam sets up into a durable dental filling that can take years of biting forces. What’s more, it’s stable and compatible with living tissue.

But there’s been growing concern in recent years about the safety of dental amalgam, with even some wondering if they should have existing fillings replaced. The reason: liquid mercury.

Mercury makes up a good portion of dental amalgam’s base mixture, to which other metals like silver, tin or copper are added to it in powder form. This forms a putty that can be easily worked into a prepared cavity. And despite the heightened awareness of the metal’s toxicity to humans, it’s still used in dental amalgam.

The reason why is that there are various forms of mercury and not all are toxic. The form making headlines is known as methylmercury, a compound created when mercury from the environment fuses with organic molecules. The compound builds up in the living tissues of animals, particularly large ocean fish, which have accumulated high concentrations passed up through their food chain.

That’s not what’s used in dental amalgam. Dentists instead use a non-toxic, elemental form of mercury that when set up becomes locked within the amalgam and cannot leach out. Based on various studies, treating cavities with it poses no health risks to humans.

This also means there’s no medical reason for having an existing silver fillings removed. Doing so, though, could cause more harm than good because it could further weaken the remaining tooth structure.

The most viable reason for not getting a dental amalgam filling is cosmetic: The metallic appearance of amalgam could detract from your smile. There are newer, more life-like filling options available. Your dentist, though, may still recommend dental amalgam for its strength and compatibility, especially for back teeth. It’s entirely safe to accept this recommendation.

If you would like more information on updating your dental work, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
December 04, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Veneers  

Veneers are able to transform the appearance of teeth with various imperfections, including cracks, chipped areas, and discolorations in Veneerorder to give you a flawless smile. Here at our dental practice in Columbia, SC, Dr. Joel Johnson can help you decide if veneers are the right cosmetic dentistry option for you—read on to learn more!


What are Veneers?

Veneers are extremely thin laminate covers that are placed over the front of teeth to conceal imperfections. Commonly made from porcelain and crafted to look like thin shells, veneers readily blend into your smile for a naturally beautiful look.


Benefits of Veneers

Veneers can be used to improve the appearance of teeth with a variety of imperfections, including:

  • Stains or discolorations
  • Chipped or cracked areas
  • Crooked or oddly-shaped
  • Rough or uneven surfaces
  • Small gaps between teeth

Veneers perform this action with a natural look, as well Here at our Columbia dental office, the veneers we use are made from porcelain, a material that looks strikingly similar to tooth enamel. Additionally, the size, shape, and color of each veneer are customized for its respective tooth. Customizing the size, shape, and color allows for the best fit and the most natural look possible.

An additional benefit of veneers is that they are permanent. A dental adhesive is used to affix each veneer to the front surface of its corresponding tooth. Cementing the veneers to the teeth means you will not have to worry about the veneers staying in place when eating, drinking, or speaking. Furthermore, they are easy to care for. In fact, you can brush and floss your teeth in the same exact manner as before!


Interested? Give Us a Call

If you are bothered by discolorations, chipped teeth, or other concerns, you can renew your smile with porcelain veneers. To schedule an appointment with your Columbia dentist, Dr. Johnson Joel, call our office today at (803) 788-2555.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
December 04, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures

Every year many parents learn their “tweenager” or teenager needs their bite corrected, often with specialized orthodontics. Imagine, though, if these families could go back in time to when their child’s poor bite was just developing to stop or slow it from forming.

Time travel may still be science fiction, but the approach suggested isn’t. It’s called interceptive orthodontics, a group of techniques and procedures performed during the early stages of jaw development. The focus is usually on getting abnormal jaw growth back on track, enough so that a poor bite won’t form.

The upper jaw, for example, may be growing too narrow, reducing the amount of available space for tooth eruption. If it isn’t corrected, teeth can erupt out of position. To correct it, an orthodontist places a palatal expander in the roof of the child’s mouth (palate). The appliance applies gentle pressure against the inside of the teeth, which stimulates the jaws to develop wider.

The expander works because of a separation in the bones at the center of the palate, which later fuse around puberty. The pressure applied from the expander keeps this gap slightly open; the body then continues to fill the widening expansion with bone, enough over time to widen the jaw. If you wait until puberty, the gap has already fused, and it would have to be reopened surgically to use this technique. Ideally, then, a palatal expander should be employed at a young age.

Not all interceptive techniques are this extensive—some, like a space maintainer, are quite simple. If a primary (baby) tooth is lost prematurely, teeth next to the empty space tend to drift into it and cause the intended permanent tooth to erupt out of place due to a lack of space. To prevent this an orthodontist places a small wire loop within the space to prevent other teeth from moving into it.

These are but two examples of the many methods for stopping or slowing a developing bite problem. To achieve the best outcome, they need to be well-timed. Be sure, then, to have your child undergo an orthodontic evaluation around age 6. If an interceptive orthodontic approach is needed, it could eliminate the need for more extensive—and expensive—treatment later.

If you would like more information on treatments to get ahead of bite problems, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
December 02, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Dental Crowns  

Dental crowns restore teeth that were previously too weak or worn down to perform normal biting and chewing functions to resume their crownsabilities once again. Here at our office in Columbia, SC, our dentist, Dr. Joel Johnson, uses crowns to protect, strengthen, and restore your teeth—read on to learn more!


What are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are hollow tooth-like caps that fit over damaged teeth, completely encapsulating them to protect against further damage or wear-and-tear. By giving damaged teeth a strong, new exterior, crowns make it possible for normal biting and chewing functions to resume without pain or sensitivity.

Additionally, dental crowns can also be used to securely hold bridgework in place when replacing missing teeth. Dental crowns are placed on each end of a dental bridge containing pontics or artificial teeth. The crowns fit over existing teeth on either side of the space where teeth are missing and hold the dental bridge in place. At our office in Columbia, SC, Dr. Johnson can discuss if crowns are right for your situation.


Benefits of Dental Crowns

The benefits of dental crowns are numerous. They can be used to restore damaged teeth, replacing missing ones, and even improve the appearance of teeth with cosmetic concerns. Examples of cosmetic issues that can be improved by placing a dental crown over the affected tooth include:

  • Stains and discolorations
  • Chipped or cracked areas
  • Misshaped teeth
  • Crooked teeth

Another exciting benefit of dental crowns is that they look just like natural teeth. In fact, once in place, you will not be able to tell the difference between the dental crowns and your other teeth. One of the reasons dental crowns look so natural is that each crown is custom made. The color, size, and shape can all be customized to ensure each dental crown fits perfectly in place and readily blends in with the surrounding teeth.


Need Dental Work? Give Us a Call

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson, call our office today at (803) 788-2555.


Orthodontic braces are a familiar sight, especially among tweens and teens: metal brackets and wires attached to the front of the teeth for all to see. Now imagine the opposite: much the same hardware, but now positioned out of sight on the back of the teeth.

It's not your imagination: It's the latest development in orthodontic technology called lingual braces. Developed simultaneously by two orthodontists in Japan and Beverly Hills, these appliances are placed on the tongue or “lingual” side of the teeth rather than the traditional labial or “lip-side.”

Generally, lingual braces can correct any bite problem labial braces can. The difference lies in how each method does its job: Traditional braces exert pressure or “push” against the teeth, while lingual braces “pull” the teeth into better alignment.

So, why choose lingual over labial? For one, they're “invisible” to others: all the hardware is on the backside of the teeth, out of sight. They're also not as readily exposed to blunt force facial trauma, which can damage traditional braces (a driving impetus for the Japanese doctor to develop them for his martial arts patients, and his American counterpart for a law enforcement patient working in a rough area).

Patients may also prefer lingual braces over removable clear aligners, another popular tooth-movement option. Fixed lingual braces achieve the same quality of “invisibility” as removable aligners, but without the inconvenience of removing them as patients must with aligners for eating, snacking or cleaning.

They can, however, be costly, running 15-35% more than labial braces. Patients may also have difficulty adjusting to them because they can affect speech and tongue comfort. However, any discomfort and initial regret with choosing lingual braces tends to fade as most patients grow more accustomed to them after a week or so.

There's one other “perk” to lingual braces—unlike patients with traditional braces who have to wait for their removal to see the finished bite correction, patients with lingual braces get an unobstructed view of their progress all during wear. That can definitely boost morale during the long treatment period!

Lingual braces haven't been around long, so not every orthodontist offers them. But the list is growing, and there soon may be a provider near you for this new teeth-straightening alternative.

If you would like more information on lingual braces, 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 “Lingual Braces: A Truly Invisible Way to Straighten Teeth.”

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


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