My Blog

Posts for: May, 2018

By Jeffery J. Johnson & Jodi B. Johnson DDS
May 23, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

Gum DiseaseDr. Jeffery Johnson and Dr. Jodi Johnson, your family and general dentists in St. Louis, MO, ensure that both your teeth and your gums stay healthy. Unfortunately, they find that gum disease threatens the smiles of both young and old. Gum disease? Do you know much about it? Do you have it? How is it treated? Find the answers to these important questions here.

What is gum disease?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), it's a condition which threatens both the oral and the general health of nearly half the American adult population. Not only does this infection harm soft oral tissues and underlying bone, it's also linked to systemic health problems.

Additionally, the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research says gum disease is today's most prevalent cause of tooth loss. As such, Drs. Jeffery and Jodi Johnson urge their patients to take good care of their teeth and gums through careful brushing and flossing, smoking cessation and consuming a nutritious diet. Routine exams and professional cleanings every six months are important, too, because these practices keep ahead of the plaque, tartar, and their associated bacteria.

The symptoms of gum disease

Sometimes, symptoms of periodontal problems are obvious to patients, and other times, people are surprised to learn they have gum disease when their dentist in St. Louis, MO, informs them. Symptoms can include:

  • Gum swelling
  • Bleeding when brushing and flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Gum tenderness and recession
  • Mobile teeth
  • Changes in dental bite or in the fit of a denture
  • Dental pain and sensitivity to heat, cold, and pressure
  • Exposed tooth roots
  • Deep periodontal pockets

An in-office examination readily reveals this last symptom. Periodontal pockets are the normal spaces between your teeth and the collar-like gum tissue surrounding them. When this collar no longer fits tooth surfaces snugly and starts to pull away, pockets deepen. Your dentist or hygienist will measure and track your gum pocket depth as an accurate indicator of oral health.

What can be done

Peridontics involves diagnosing and treating gum disease. Milder forms of periodontal disease response well to better brushing and flossing techniques at home. More advanced problems may require tooth scaling and something called root planing in which the hygienist uses special instruments to debride exposed roots. She also instills antibiotics at selected sites to ensure gums heal and re-attach to teeth.

More advanced forms of periodontitis may need:

  • Gum grafting, a specialized oral surgery, which uses the patient's own gums to cover exposed roots
  • Laser gum surgery, which removes infected soft tissue and seals the gums without sutures or cutting

Better gums and better health

Have both when you keep ahead of gum disease. If you're exhibiting any worrisome symptoms, please contact our office in St. Louis, MO, right away for an appointment. Dr. Jeffrey Johnson and Dr. Jodi Johnson can help you have your best smile. Call today at (314) 427-7400.

By Jeffery J. Johnson & Jodi B. Johnson DDS
May 23, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: braces   orthodontics  

Orthodontics relies on certain mechanics in the mouth to move teeth to better positions. As the specialty has advanced, we've become ever more precise in moving teeth with braces, the “workhorse” of orthodontics, and other specialized appliances and techniques.

But although cooperating effectively with the mouth's natural ability for tooth movement is crucial for success, there's another aspect to consider if that success will be long-term: the growth and development of oral and facial structure. And not just development during childhood and adolescence: indeed, facial structure continues to change throughout a lifetime, including the senior years. Research has shown that although the rate of growth slows over time, it doesn't stop even for someone 80 years or older.

Our emerging understanding in this area has had an important impact on how and when we perform orthodontic treatment. As we develop a treatment strategy for an individual patient we consider not only the immediate outcome of a treatment, but also how it may change their facial appearance in the future. By taking continuing facial growth into consideration, we're more likely to achieve a new smile appearance that remains attractive later in life.

A key factor is to be sure we're initiating treatments at appropriate ages. We may detect developing bite problems as early as age 6, which might prompt preventive treatment at that time to diminish or even eliminate the problem. But it may also be prudent to wait on full-scale orthodontic treatment until late childhood or puberty. Furthermore, some form of orthodontic treatment might need to continue into early adulthood to ensure the most optimal outcome.

By taking a longer view of the treatment process, we're better able to work within the natural growth and development taking place now and in the future. As a result, a person is more likely to enjoy an attractive and youthful appearance even in their later years.

If you would like more information on aging factors for cosmetic enhancement, 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 “Understanding Aging Makes Beauty Timeless.”

By Jeffery J. Johnson & Jodi B. Johnson DDS
May 13, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sedation dentistry  

Although dental visits are routine for most people, it’s a different experience for a few. About one in ten adults have high anxiety or fear of going to the dentist and may avoid it altogether—even when they have an acute situation.

If you’re one of those with dental visit anxiety there’s good news—we may be able to help you relax and have a more positive experience. Here are 3 things you need to know about reducing your anxiety at the dental office.

It starts with the dentist. While every patient deserves a compassionate, understanding dentist, it’s especially so if you suffer from dental visit anxiety. Having someone who will listen to your concerns in a non-judgmental way is the first step toward feeling more comfortable in the dentist’s chair. It also takes a sensitive practitioner to work with you on the best strategy for relaxation.

Relaxation often begins before your visit. There are various degrees of sedation (which isn’t the same as anesthesia—those methods block pain) depending on your level of anxiety. If you experience mild to moderate nervousness, an oral sedative an hour or so before your appointment could take the edge off and help you relax. Oral sedatives are also mild enough for use with other forms of sedation like nitrous oxide gas, and with local anesthesia.

High anxiety may require deeper sedation. If your level of anxiety is greater, however, we may recommend IV sedation to induce a much more relaxed state. The sedation drugs are delivered directly into your blood stream through a small needle inserted into a vein. Although you’re not unconscious as with general anesthesia, we can place you into a “semi-awake” state of reduced anxiety. The drugs used may also have an amnesiac effect so you won’t remember details about the procedure. This can help reinforce positive feelings about your visit and help reduce future anxiety.

If you’re anxious about dental visits, make an appointment with us to discuss your concerns. We’re sure we can work out a strategy to reduce your anxiety so you can receive the dental care you need.

If you would like more information on sedation therapy, 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 “IV Sedation in Dentistry.”

By Jeffery J. Johnson & Jodi B. Johnson DDS
May 03, 2018
Category: Oral Health

If you’ve just received a dental implant restoration, congratulations! This proven smile-changer is not only life-like, it’s also durable: more than 95% of implants survive at least 10 years. But beware: periodontal (gum) disease could derail that longevity.

Gum disease is triggered by dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that builds up on teeth. Left untreated the infection weakens gum attachment to teeth and causes supporting bone loss, eventually leading to possible tooth loss. Something similar holds true for an implant: although the implant itself can’t be affected by disease, the gums and bone that support it can. And just as a tooth can be lost, so can an implant.

Gum disease affecting an implant is called peri-implantitis (“peri”–around; implant “itis”–inflammation). Usually beginning with the surface tissues, the infection can advance (quite rapidly) below the gum line to eventually weaken the bone in which the implant has become integrated (a process known as osseointegration). As the bone deteriorates, the implant loses the secure hold created through osseointegration and may eventually give way.

As in other cases of gum disease, the sooner we detect peri-implantitis the better our chances of preserving the implant. That’s why at the first signs of a gum infection—swollen, reddened or bleeding gums—you should contact us at once for an appointment.

If you indeed have peri-implantitis, we’ll manually identify and remove all plaque and calculus (tartar) fueling the infection, which might also require surgical access to deeper plaque deposits. We may also need to decontaminate microscopic ridges found on the implant surface. These are typically added by the implant manufacturer to boost osseointegration, but in the face of a gum infection they can become havens for disease-causing bacteria to grow and hide.

Of course, the best way to treat peri-implantitis is to attempt to prevent it through daily brushing and flossing, and at least twice a year (or more, if we recommend it) dental visits for thorough cleanings and checkups. Keeping its supporting tissues disease-free will boost your implant’s chances for a long and useful life.

If you would like more information on caring for your dental implants, 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 “Gum Disease can Cause Dental Implant Failure.”