Oral Exams and Cleanings
Regular brushing and flossing is vital to the health and well-being of your mouth, but maintaining good dental hygiene also requires routine professional dental cleanings and oral exams. Individuals should have professional dental cleanings and oral exams at least every six months or so, depending on their particular needs.
Professional dental cleanings and oral exams are meant to be preventative in nature, helping patients avoid such problems as decay, gum disease, and infection or catching these problems early before they progress to more advanced stages. A professional dental cleaning (called a prophy by most insurance companies) includes scaling, root planning, and polishing, plus recommendations for further preventative or restorative care. To schedule a cleaning, contact our staff at 334-687-0088.
A tooth may need to be extracted for a number of reasons, the most common of which is advanced tooth decay. If a tooth has decayed to a point where restorative procedures such as drilling and placing crowns, onlays, or inlays will not save it, then an extraction is needed to protect the mouth from further infection and damage. Tooth extractions are also performed on patients who have impacted teeth or who need more room in their mouths in order to receive the benefits of orthodontic treatment.
When the tooth is visibly above the gum line, we perform a simple tooth extraction that only requires local anesthesia. For teeth that are still below the gum line, a surgical extraction is necessary. Patients undergoing a surgical tooth extraction may opt for nitrous oxide to help them relax in addition to local anesthesia.
Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy involves the removal of damaged dental pulp (the soft tissue composed of nerves and blood vessels inside the canal of the tooth). In order to avoid infection, permanent deadening of the tooth nerve, or an abscess, root canal therapy is often necessary.
A cracked tooth or a severe cavity may allow germs to enter into the canal, where they can infect dental pulp. If allowed to progress, the infection may cause so much damage that the tooth needs to be removed. Root canal therapy is designed to prevent the kind of damage that leads to the need for a tooth extraction.
During treatment, we remove the patient’s diseased pulp, clean the canal to free it from germs and bacteria, and then seal it to keep other germs and bacteria out. A crown will then be bonded to the tooth, returning it to full functioning capacity.
Gum disease is a serious oral health issue that, if left untreated, can eventually lead to tooth loss. Dr. Johnston provides patients with both preventative options for maintaining healthy gums and corrective options for addressing gum disease already in progress.
Periodontal care begins with a thorough examination of the patient’s teeth and gums. We establish whether there has been any breakdown in gum tissue and whether pockets have formed between teeth and gums. We may also take X-rays of the patient’s mouth to determine whether there has been any bone loss below the gum line. If necessary, we treat gum disease by removing microbial plaque and calculus deposits below the gum line. For more advanced gum disease, periodontal surgery may be necessary.
If you are experiencing bleeding, receding, or swollen gums; mouth pain; persistent bad breath; or shifts in the way your teeth fit together, we recommend that you contact us today to schedule an appointment.
TMJ syndrome causes a number of troublesome symptoms, including joint pain in the jaw, shoulder pain, headaches, earaches, and tooth pain. The clicking or popping of the jaw (when it is opened very wide) is one of the telltale signs of TMJ syndrome. Among the most common causes of TMJ syndrome are teeth grinding or jaw clenching, which put the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) under extreme pressure.
Dr. Johnston provides bite therapy for patients complaining of TMJ disorder symptoms. Bite therapy involves a careful analysis of the jawbones, joints, and muscles in order to assess the cause(s) of the TMJ disorder symptoms. We also instruct patients in jaw exercises that help mitigate jaw misalignments, promote jaw control, and reduce clenching and grinding.
TMJ Therapy & Splint Therapy
TMJ therapy is available at our office for addressing some of the causes and symptoms of TMJ and other types of craniofacial pain. For jaw clenchers and teeth grinders, we can custom design a MRD (mandibular repositioning device) using an impression made of the patient’s teeth. The MRD will inhibit patients from grinding and clenching and promote optimal jaw alignment.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment
Excessive snoring may merely be a nuisance, disturbing sleep for both the patient and his or her partner. But it may also be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition. Sleep apnea is the obstruction of the breathing passage between the nose and the voice box, a situation that can reduce oxygen in the blood to dangerously low levels.
We offer dental appliances that can reduce or prevent the disturbing nighttime noises and health risks associated with these sleep disorders. For many of our patients with snoring disorders, we can design a custom device which works by moving the lower jaw and tongue forward. This repositioning of the tongue opens up the breathing passageway and inhibits snoring.
To prevent cavities from forming, sealants are bonded to teeth to act as barriers against cavity-causing bacteria. Typically, they are placed on the surfaces of back teeth that have cracks, fissures, and deep grooves-teeth most susceptible to decay.
Sealants create a smoother chewing surface so that teeth do not as easily trap plaque. Smooth surfaces also make brushing more effective. Made out of a plastic, tooth-colored composite resin, sealants are not easily seen in most situations. In fact, in most cases only a dentist can tell if someone has sealants on his or her teeth.
Sealants are often recommended for children and teens because grooves and fissures in teeth tend to form in childhood and adolescence. However, many adults are good candidates for sealants as well.
Good oral hygiene is a lifelong process. The best oral hygiene begins during childhood so that the benefits of learning good oral care habits can be enjoyed throughout life. We provide comprehensive dental care for children and teens that include oral exams, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatment, gum disease prevention, sealants, and cavity repair.
We make every effort to teach our young patients about the importance of regular brushing and flossing and provide instruction that yields the best possible results. Our caring staff maintains a safe and comforting environment for children so that they can learn early that going to the dentist doesn’t have to be a scary experience.
Emergency Dental Care
Our staff is adept at handling emergencies that occur due to sports injuries. Aggressive sports such as soccer, baseball and football can cause oral injuries with heavy bleeding and severe damage. Dr. Johnston can care for these and other sports-related emergencies.
Whether it’s a toothache, a swollen face, or an athletic injury, you can rest assure that we’ll be there in your time of need.