Posts for: May, 2018

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
May 23, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  

The thought of undergoing a root canal can be intimidating, but root canal treatment is similar to filling a cavity and can save a damaged tooth from extraction. There are several signs you may need a root canal. Knowing these signs gives you an opportunity to see a dentist asRoot Canal soon as possible so your tooth can be spared. Dr. Joel Johnson is your Columbia, SC, dentist for root canals.

Root Canals

Root canals can strengthen and restore teeth damaged by infection that would otherwise need to be extracted. Teeth damaged by infection can become too weak to perform normal biting and chewing functions. Consequently, there is a tendency to avoid using those teeth, which puts additional strain on surrounding teeth that have to compensate for the weaker teeth. Once the root canal procedure is complete, the previously infected tooth will be free of infection and will be strong enough to perform normal biting and chewing functions again.

When the soft pulpy center of a tooth becomes infected, the infection can spread down through the root and form an abscess below the tooth. An untreated abscess can cause the infection to spread to other teeth and even the jaw bone, resulting in further oral health problems. During root canal treatment, the infection is removed from the interior of the tooth and root. The area is thoroughly cleaned out, then filled in and sealed with dental filling, much like filling a cavity, and the tooth is restored.

Root Canal Signs

Several problems in the mouth can be indications of the need for a root canal. If you develop any of these problems your Columbia dentist can examine your teeth and determine if a root canal is needed. Some of the signs you may need a root canal include:

  • Developing a severe or persistent toothache
  • Developing severe mouth pain
  • Experiencing sharp pain when biting or chewing food
  • Developing persistent pain or pressure in the mouth
  • Experiencing tooth sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages

Benefits of Root Canals

There are multiple benefits to having root canal treatment. A major benefit is avoiding extraction of damaged teeth. Another benefit is how relatively simple the procedure is to perform as it is quite similar to filling cavities in teeth with decay. Additional benefits of root canals include:

  • Avoiding extraction of teeth
  • Strengthening damaged teeth
  • Restoring regular tooth functioning
  • Preventing the spread of infection to other teeth
  • Alleviating tooth pain, discomfort, and sensitivity

There are several signs you may need a root canal, such as sharp pain when biting or chewing food. If you have any of these signs it is important that you see a dentist as soon as possible. Having root canal treatment in time can spare your tooth from extraction. To find out if you may need a root canal, schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson, your Columbia, SC, dentist for root canal treatment, by calling the office at (803) 788-2555.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
May 23, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

In 2016, voters in three states—California, Massachusetts and Nevada—joined Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia in legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. These referenda moved the country closer to what may soon be a monumental political showdown between the states and the federal government, which still categorizes marijuana as a controlled substance.

But there’s another angle to this story often overshadowed by the political jousting: is increased marijuana use a good thing for your health and overall physical well-being?

When it comes to your dental health, the answer might be no. The Journal of Periodontology recently published a study that included frequent marijuana users showing increased signs of periodontal (gum) disease. This harmful bacterial infection triggered by plaque buildup can cause weakening of gum attachment to teeth and create the formation of large voids between teeth and gums called periodontal pockets. Left untreated, the disease can also cause supporting bone loss and eventually tooth loss.

The study looked at the dental treatment data of over 1,900 adults of which around one-quarter used marijuana once a month for at least a year. Marijuana users in the study on average had 24.5% of pocket sites around their teeth with depths of at least eight millimeters (an indication of advanced gum disease). In contrast, non-users averaged around 18.9% sites.

To be sure, there are several risk factors for gum disease like genetics, oral hygiene (or lack thereof), structural problems like poor tooth position or even systemic conditions elsewhere in the body. This published study only poses the possibility that marijuana use could be a risk factor for gum disease that should be taken seriously. It’s worth asking the question of whether using marijuana may not be good for your teeth and gums.

If you would like more information on the effects of marijuana on dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
May 13, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: pregnancy   dental care  

Pregnancy creates enormous changes in your physical body. These changes, especially on the hormonal level, can impact many aspects of your health including teeth and gums.

While it’s easy to let dental care take a back seat to other health concerns, you should actually pay close attention to it while you’re expecting. Here are 4 things to focus on during pregnancy to avoid problems with your dental health.

Don’t avoid dental work unless otherwise advised. You may be concerned about undergoing dental procedures during pregnancy, especially those that involve anesthesia. But both the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Dental Association (ADA) encourage pregnant women to continue regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups. And unless your obstetrician advises otherwise, it’s usually safe to undergo dental work that can’t wait.

Be on the lookout for pregnancy gingivitis (gum disease). Because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, your gums could be more susceptible to gum disease caused by plaque buildup. That’s why you should be on alert for signs of a gum infection like swollen, reddened or bleeding gums. And be sure to practice diligent, daily brushing and flossing to remove disease-causing plaque, as well as regularly visiting your dentist for professional cleanings.

Make sure your diet is “tooth” friendly. Because of the changes in your body, you may experience food cravings that alter your normal dietary habits. So as much as possible, try to keep your food choices in line with what’s best for your teeth and gums: minimize your sugar intake (a prime food source for disease-causing bacteria); and focus on nutritiously balanced meals and snacks.

Keep your entire healthcare team informed. When you make your next dental appointment, tell your dentist you’re pregnant and how far along, any medications and supplements you’re taking, or any complications you may be experiencing. This information could have a bearing on how your dentist approaches any treatment. Likewise, let your obstetrician know about any issues with your teeth and gums, as well as any suggested dental work you may need.

If you would like more information on dental care during pregnancy, 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 “Dental Care during Pregnancy.”


Once upon a time, celebrities tried hard to maintain the appearance of red-carpet glamour at all times. That meant keeping the more mundane aspects of their lives out of the spotlight: things like shopping, walking the dog and having oral surgery, for example.

That was then. Today, you can find plenty of celebs posting pictures from the dentist on social media. Take Julianne Hough, for example: In 2011 and 2013, she tweeted from the dental office. Then, not long ago, she shared a video taken after her wisdom teeth were removed in December 2016. In it, the 28-year-old actress and dancer cracked jokes and sang a loopy rendition of a Christmas carol, her mouth filled with gauze. Clearly, she was feeling relaxed and comfortable!

Lots of us enjoy seeing the human side of celebrities. But as dentists, we’re also glad when posts such as these help demystify a procedure that could be scary for some people.

Like having a root canal, the thought of extracting wisdom teeth (also called third molars) makes some folks shudder. Yet this routine procedure is performed more often than any other type of oral surgery. Why? Because wisdom teeth, which usually begin to erupt (emerge from beneath the gums) around age 17-25, have the potential to cause serious problems in the mouth. When these molars lack enough space to fully erupt in their normal positions, they are said to be “impacted.”

One potential problem with impacted wisdom teeth is crowding. Many people don’t have enough space in the jaw to accommodate another set of molars; when their wisdom teeth come in, other teeth can be damaged. Impacted wisdom teeth may also have an increased potential to cause periodontal disease, bacterial infection, and other issues.

Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed; after a complete examination, including x-rays and/or other diagnostic imaging, a recommendation will be made based on each individual’s situation. It may involve continued monitoring of the situation, orthodontics or extraction.

Wisdom tooth extraction is usually done right in the office, often with a type of anesthesia called “conscious sedation.”  Here, the patient is able to breathe normally and respond to stimuli (such as verbal directions), but remains free from pain. For people who are especially apprehensive about dental procedures, anti-anxiety mediation may also be given. After the procedure, prescription or over-the-counter pain medication may be used for a few days. If you feel like singing a few bars, as Julianne did, it’s up to you.

If you would like more information about wisdom tooth extraction, please call our office to arrange a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”

By Joel E. Johnson, DMD, PA
May 02, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

Learn more about what goes into getting a dental filling in Columbia.fillings

Has our Columbia, SC, dentist, Dr. Joel Johnson, recently told you that you have a cavity? Is this your first cavity? If so, then you may be feeling a bit nervous about your upcoming dental procedure. We are here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Cavities are easy enough to treat and once the cavity has been removed it’s time to place your dental filling.

What is a dental filling?

Everyone has bacteria in their mouths, and if you don’t care for your smile properly this bacteria can affect the health and integrity of tooth enamel, causing cavities to form. This decay must be removed to prevent it from spreading and destroying the integrity of the tooth. Luckily, removing the decay can be done simply and painlessly in just one visit.

Of course, once the decay has been removed you will notice that there are holes where the decay used to be. These holes can affect the strength and function of your teeth over time, so they need to be filled right away. This is where a dental filling comes in. The filling will rebuild these holes and make them non-existent. Plus the filling will also serve to restrengthen the tooth. A filling is crucial. Luckily, placing a dental filling is easy.

What is a dental filling made of?

Maybe you used to have a family member that had metal fillings. Don’t worry; these aren’t used nearly as often. After all, even though metal is pretty durable and tough, having a mouth full of metal can be embarrassing and unpleasant. This is why our Columbia cosmetic dentist is proud to offer tooth-colored fillings, which no one will be able to see. The filling is made from composite resin, which can be matched to the color of your tooth before it’s applied. The filling material is also putty-like and easy to contour and shape over the holes to restore the tooth quickly and painlessly.

Do you have questions about dental filings? Are you concerned that you might be dealing with a cavity? If so, call our Columbia, SC, office today and find out more about the dental services we offer.

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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