Dental Services in Grand Junction
Click to go directly to your area of interest:
|State of the Art Dentistry
Education & Prevention
Dentistry for Children
|Difference between Fillings & Crowns
Gum Disease/Periodontal Disease
When to see a specialist
Treating Sleep Apnea
Modern day dentistry would be unrecognizable to dentists and patients alike from only fifty years ago. Dental techniques, materials and high tech instrumentation and tools have changed dentistry dramatically for the better. Dentistry is easier, quicker and more comfortable and generally lasts longer than it ever has. Dr Johnson uses only the latest and best materials, techniques and instrumentation for all your dental care. This includes fully computerized treatment rooms and digital X-rays and digital intraoral photography.
Despite these changes dentistry is still fighting basically the same problems as always: dental caries and periodontal disease and the resulting damage those problems cause. Dental caries or dental decay is the most common disease among humans. Fortunately, in the United States dental problems are much less prominent than they have ever been. This is due to the efforts of dentists to educate their patients on the causes and prevention of these problems. Much of the effort of Dr Johnson and his staff is to educate you on avoiding problems rather than repairing the resulting damage.
Inevitably, however, almost all of us develop some dental problems over the course of a lifetime. Unless these problems reach a very advanced stage, they can usually be rectified through dental treatment. Dental caries (decay) can be repaired through the use of direct restorations, fillings that are placed directly into the tooth in the mouth: or indirect restorations, crowns, onlays/inlays, or veneers that are fabricated outside the mouth at a lab and then cemented on the tooth. Periodontal disease (gum disease) can be treated in its earliest stages by regular dental prophylaxis (cleaning) and more advanced cleaning procedures.
Occasionally, dental problems advance to the point where teeth are salvageable only through more advanced treatments, including endodontics (root canals), periodontal (gum) surgery, or other types of surgery. Other times dental problems are so severe that teeth are nonrestorable and must be extracted. Another large part of dental practice is devoted to replacing these extracted teeth (prosthodontics).
Again Dr Johnson and his hygienists and assistants would much rather educate you and assist you in avoiding dental problems rather than repairing the damage once it has occurred.
In the past decade, cosmetic or esthetic dentistry has grown considerably. Improving the appearance of one's smile can make a large difference in one's overall appearance. Many patients equate cosmetic dentistry with great expense and difficulty. This is not always the case. The truth is many patients benefit greatly from relatively simple and easy cosmetic procedures. Often, simple bleaching of teeth and some selective recontouring and polishing of teeth can make a huge difference at little cost.
There are some situations that require more extensive restorations and/or replacement of missing teeth. This can be more expensive but there are usually several different options available, some of which can be much less expensive.
If you or a family member or friend is interested in improving your appearance, let us know. We can provide an initial consultation at no cost.
We are a family dental office, and as such we have always seen a lot of families and a lot of kids. All of us who work here have children of our own. We love kids and children have always been a large part of this practice.
We find that even the most anxious of children can learn to relax and even enjoy appointments in the office. This, however, takes some extra time and effort on our part. We often like to schedule young children or any child who has not had previous dental treatment for a few "Get acquainted" appointments. These consist of familiarizing the child with the office and some of the equipment in a non threatening way, while the child understands that no treatment will be accomplished that appointment. This allows the child to become familiar with us and the office and gain trust. Some kids need one of these easy get acquainted appointments: a few kids need three or four. There is never a charge for these preliminary get acquainted appointments.
Dr Johnson and staff have come to expect a few common questions about dental treatment. Some of these questions (and the answers) are:
- What is the difference between a filling and a crown?
- A filling is a restoration that is placed directly into a tooth after caries (decay) has been cleaned out of the tooth or a fractured section has been removed. This can be a metal or composite (glass filled composite resin) material. Dr Johnson does not use silver/mercury amalgam fillings, but they are still used in many offices. Typically a filling is cheaper than a crown and is the preferred restoration when the decay or broken section of a tooth is small to medium size. Fillings are less expensive and can last ten to twenty years if small. For larger areas of decay or fractured areas of a tooth, fillings will not last long or may even be impossible to place correctly. Then it is necessary to place crowns. These are cast restorations, often tooth colored porcelain, that are fabricated at a lab and subsequently cemented on the tooth. Crowns are more expensive than fillings but will last much longer and are sometimes the only way to salvage a tooth. Crowns can be made to look very natural and are often used to improve cosmetics for patients.
<< Back to Top
- What is a root canal?
- Occasionally, a tooth is decayed so severely that the bacteria which cause the decay have reached the pulp tissue, or nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue inside the tooth. This pulp tissue provides feeling, moisture and nutrients to the inside of the tooth. When those bacteria reached the pulp, that tissue becomes infected or abscessed. When that occurs it is no longer possible to just restore the tooth with a restoration. Instead, the infection must be removed. Often it is possible to perform a root canal and save the tooth. This subspecialty of dentistry is called endodontics or endo. Endodontics consists of removing the infected tissue from within the tooth, disinfecting the spaces within the roots, the canals, and filling all those spaces so that the infection can not recur. This allows us to save teeth which would otherwise be extracted. Extraction is the only other option for an infected tooth if root canal is not possible or wanted.
We do some root canals here, but we are blessed in Grand Junction to have several endodontists who are specially trained and do nothing but root canals. If your root canal is difficult or unusual, we will almost always refer you to an endodontist. See our questions regarding specialists, below.
<< Back to Top
- What is gum disease or periodontal disease?
- We all have lots of bacteria in our mouth. Many of these bacteria are harmless and some are even beneficial in maintaining a health microbial balance in our mouths and gastrointestinal tract. Other oral bacteria are harmful, some can cause decay in teeth and others can cause infection in our gums. We brush and floss our teeth to keep the levels of bacteria to a minimum. If bacteria are allowed to flourish and especially if a patient has other predisposing factors, such as smoking, certain of those bacteria can cause an infection in our gums or supporting structures.
At first this infection is mild and confined to the gums alone. This is referred to a gingivitis and is easily eliminated with cleaning alone usually, with no long term damage. Gingivitis is evident by changes that occur in any soft tissue infection. The soft tissue becomes red and bleeds easily, it can be puffy or swollen, warm and hurt.
If that infection is not eliminated and allowed to persist in the gums, it will spread to those supporting tissues, bone and ligamental fibers which attach the tooth to the bone. Once the infection reaches the bone you no longer get the classic signs of infection that you find in soft tissue. There is no swelling or redness or soreness. There are no nerve endings in bone. Rather bone just disappears in the presence of chronic infection. Therefore, many patients are unaware of this bone loss until there is so much bone loss that their teeth are getting loose and may be lost soon. Treatment of this more advanced periodontal disease is more difficult and outcomes less certain. It involves more detailed and extensive cleaning under the gums and sometimes more advanced treatment including minor surgeries. If you have a more advanced case of periodontal disease, we will almost always refer you to a specialist, a periodontist who treats gum disease exclusively. We are lucky in Grand Junction to have several very good periodontal specialists.
<< Back to Top
- When should I see a specialist?
- Dr Johnson practiced in Breckenridge, Colorado prior to moving to Grand Junction. There were no specialists in Summit County and patients were reluctant to drive to Denver or Colorado Springs. Therefore Dr. Johnson developed a lot of experience in all phases of dentistry out of necessity. Fortunately, we have here in Grand Junction, many very good, talented and experienced specialists in all dental specialties, who Dr Johnson refers to regularly. If you have an unusual or complex problem, Dr Johnson will most often encourage you to obtain the help of a specialist. Dr Johnson and staff will coordinate your treatment and appointments with the specialist to insure you receive the best possible outcome. Please let us know if you have any questions and/or concerns regarding these referrals.
<< Back to Top
- What is sleep apnea. How do you treat it? How do I know if I have it?
- Sleep apnea is a condition where patients have a narrowed airway from the mouth into the trachea. During sleep this airway can become closed off, inhibiting or even stopping breathing. Sleep apnea is associated with snoring but is not the same as snoring. Snoring is caused by a narrowing of the airway which causes heavy vibration in the soft tissues of the palate and a loud vibrational sound, snoring. Apnea is the actual closing down of the airway. Many patients who have sleep apnea snore, but apnea is often noticeable when the snoring abruptly ceases as all airflow is blocked off by apnea.
Sleep apneas is a very dangerous condition. It is associated with higher incidences of heart disease and stroke. Sleep apnea is a medical condition. Its diagnosis is best performed by a qualified specialist physician. We are extremely lucky in Grand Junction to have a pulmonologist who also specializes in sleep medicine. Many of the signs of sleep apnea, morning and daytime drowsiness, a feeling of not ever sleeping well as well as extreme snoring are obvious, but the actual diagnosis of sleep apnea should be done by a physician using a sleep study. This type of test only requires that you go to a clinic in the evening and go to sleep with a few electrical leads connected to monitor your vital signs. Often it is not necessary to remain there all night: you will be awoken and sent home to finish your nights sleep.
If you are diagnosed by a physician with sleep apnea, there are different treatment methods available. Traditionally, treatment has involved CPAP which is a mask you wear when sleeping that provides positive air pressure to keep the airway open and eliminate the cessation of breathing. In some milder to moderate cases, we can assist the physician in treating sleep apnea by the custom fabrication of a particular adjustable oral appliance which aids in opening the airway. This is usually preferable for patients over the CPAP as it is less obtrusive and doesn’t interfere with normal routines as much. Occasionally, an oral appliance will be used along with the CPAP in difficult cases. If you feel that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, please let us know and we will assist you in getting an appointment for evaluation. Do not wait. This is a serious medical problem.
<< Back to Top