My Blog

     If you’re 50 or older, chances are you’ve noticed a few grey hairs and maybe a wrinkle or two --- but you probably haven’t noticed the fact that your teeth may be changing, too. In fact, the enamel on their surface may have started to wear away -- putting your smile in serious danger.  And it may be an important symptom of a dangerous condition known as sleep apnea.

      You see, even though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies, it can wear down, exposing the softer dentin inside the tooth and leading to some very serious problems.   When you think about how hard we ask our teeth to work, that’s really no surprise.

     For starters there’s all the biting and chewing we do every day. And there are lots of other factors too, like drinking too many soft drinks, chewing on things like ice, and grinding our teeth – not to mention various medical conditions, drugs and supplements.  Clenching and grinding are main symptoms of sleep apnea.

     All those factors pile up, with the result that by the time you’re 50 or so the enamel on your teeth – particularly the teeth in the front of your mouth – can be so worn that the dentin begins to show through as yellow spots at the middle or edge of a tooth. The dentin can “cup” as well, causing what some dentists refer to as “potholes” in your teeth.  It may be that your teeth are ground down to a straight line across the tooth and the edges are sharp 90 degree angles rather than rounded corners.

Potential Tooth Damage or Loss

     What’s worse, the thinning edges of these “potholes” then begin to develop chips and micro-fractures, setting the stage for a downward spiral that can lead to the need for expensive and time-consuming dental work like root canals and crowns or even the loss of teeth.

     That’s a shame – and totally unnecessary – because there are simple and effective ways to repair worn enamel and prevent future problems, if the condition is caught promptly.  Unfortunately, this potentially devastating condition is not something you’re likely to notice on your own – at least not in its earliest stages.  Most often there’s no pain associated with enamel loss, although some people do notice increased sensitivity to hot and cold.

     As for appearance, you might possibly see areas of yellow dentin if you examined your teeth very carefully using a good magnifying mirror and an extremely bright light. Even using these tools, though, you’d only be able to detect the problem AFTER you had already lost a considerable amount of enamel.

     The good news is that our office looks for signs of enamel wear every time you visit. And, if we see a problem, we have the tools to fix it.

­­High tech repair

     Basically, what we do when we see a problem is very gently reshape the affected area, then flow in an ultra high tech composite resin that matches your enamel in both color and strength.  This resin is bonded to the existing tooth.

     The process is simple, quick and so comfortable it rarely requires anesthetic. And we can reinforce and protect as many teeth as needed in just one visit.  What’s more, this simple repair should last for many, many years – and, if needed, we can touch the resin up or redo it quickly and easily.

     When you consider that this simple procedure can help you keep your teeth – and avoid all the time, drilling, anesthetic and expense of root canals and crowns – it’s hard to think of a more effective way to preserve your smile.  If you’d like to know more, just ask. We’ll be happy to fill you in on all the details about this important treatment.



     You take good care of your teeth and they feel fine except when you eat or drink something hot or cold.  When you start to savor that first cup of coffee or sip a refreshing cold glass of iced tea, the pain begins.  And you find yourself wondering “what’s going on?”

     This is one of the most common problems my patients tell me about.  Fortunately, though, there are ways to stop the pain and get back to enjoying the things you love.  The first step is making sure your pain isn’t caused by a chipped or cracked tooth or a cavity that is close to a nerve.  (Of course, that takes a thorough dental exam and probably an x-ray.)  If neither of these things is the problem, the chances are that your pain is coming from tooth roots that have become exposed.

     In fact, root exposure is the most common source of tooth sensitivity.  To understand how something as common as root exposure can cause so much misery, you need to know some tooth anatomy.  The part of your tooth that you can usually see in a healthy tooth is covered by a layer of enamel—the strongest substance in your entire body.  Below the gum line, a layer called cementum covers the root.  This layer isn’t as dense as enamel but if it’s well covered by your gums, the roots are protected.

     Beneath both the enamel and cementum is dentin and the dentin provides an actual pathway for pain in the form of thousands of tiny hollow tubes that lead directly to the tooth’s pulp and nerve.  So if your gums pull away from the tooth’s root, heat or cold can penetrate to the nerve and cause that sharp, sudden pain you’ve come to dread.

     And it’s not just hot and cold food and drinks.  Sweet, sour, and sticky things can make you miserable, too.  For some people, just breathing in cold air can cause pain.  Fortunately, this irritation of the nerve may not cause any permanent damage but it certainly can keep you from enjoying things you used to look forward to eating or drinking.

     As you can imagine, with a problem as common as exposed roots, there are several possible causes, including tooth grinding, plaque buildup, gums that have receded, aging, or even brushing too hard.  Tooth whitening products that contain baking soda and peroxide are major contributors to tooth sensitivity as is eating a lot of acidic foods.  Even some routine dental procedures can cause temporary sensitivity.  But unlike sensitivity caused by exposed roots, that type of sensitivity usually disappears in a few weeks.

     Taking good care of your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly can help prevent tooth sensitivity.  But if the sound of ice cubes tinkling in a glass of ice cold lemonade or the thought of fresh hot pizza already makes you wince, you don’t have to put up with the pain.

     Today, we can treat tooth sensitivity quickly, simply, and affordably with advanced compounds that bond directly to the roots of your teeth to seal and protect them.  It doesn’t work for everyone, but most people are delighted with the fast, long-lasting relief they get.  And if it doesn’t work for you, there’s no charge for the treatment.

     Sound good?  Then give us a call right now and start enjoying all those things you’ve been avoiding, pain free.

     Dr. Donald Johnson founded Heartfelt Family Dental in Coeur d’Alene to help patients with their dental needs and LIVE FREE WITH NO LIMITS!  His office is at 114 W. Neider Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, near Costco.  The website for more information is and the office phone is 208-667-4551.


April 20, 2016
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

     Everybody worries about their breath from time to time – like after a meal filled with plenty of onions and garlic.  But for some people, though, the worry never goes away.  They buy mouthwash by the gallon and pop breath mints by the handful, but they still worry that their breath is bad. And they’re still afraid to get close to people – even the ones they love most.

     If that sounds like you (or someone you care about), there are some things you should know.  For starters, you need to understand you’re not alone. In fact, experts estimate a full 25% of Americans1 experience severe bad breath every single day.  Second, you need to know your bad breath isn’t a mystery. Today’s dentists know exactly what’s causing it.  Finally, you need to hear the good news that help is on the way – in the form of safe, smart strategies you can use to put an end to your worries and let you enjoy fresh breath for life.

The truth about bad breath

     Researchers have found that in just 10 percent of cases or less, bad breath is caused by an underlying medical condition like diabetes, reflux, sinusitis, certain kinds of cancer, and liver or kidney failure2.   Dry mouth, which can be caused by certain medications, can cause bad breath as well, because saliva helps to keep your mouth clean.  In an estimated 90 percent of cases3, though, bad breath originates in your mouth – where it’s easy for us to diagnose and treat.

Two main causes

     The two primary causes of bad breath are (1) dental hygiene that misses the places where odors can grow and (2) periodontal (gum) disease.

     You see, when food or plaque remains on or between teeth it attracts bacteria that produce bad smelling chemicals called Volatile Sulfur Compounds. The tongue is also a very large contributor to bad breath.  The cells on the top of your tongue have long appendages called papilla.  When the cells inside your mouth die and are shed, some get down in the spaces between the papilla and produce these same chemicals as they break down.  These compounds include hydrogen sulfide – the chemical that makes rotten eggs smell so awful.  Better dental hygiene can help reduce both of these causes.

     What’s more, food and plaque on teeth irritate your gums and cause inflammation  leading to the gaps and pockets around the teeth that are a primary sign of gum disease. These gaps and pockets then collect even more plaque and bacteria.

     Plus, your tonsils can also trap food and plaque and cause the same kind of problems.

     Fortunately, all these problems are very treatable.  The first step is a thorough exam that includes a medical history, full mouth X-rays, examination of your tongue and tonsils, a gum (periodontal) exam and an oral cancer screening.  Then, if needed, we’ll begin phase one gum infection therapy and preliminary treatment of cavities. If your tonsils have collect food and plaque, they may have to be removed and you’ll need a referral to and ENT physician. And you’ll need instructions to help you learn everything you need to know about how to clean your mouth and tongue effectively every day so that bad breath doesn’t have a chance to return.

     And you need to know that ordinary mouthwashes can actually make the problem worse.  Most contain alcohol which draws water out of the tissue in your mouth and increases inflammation.  You need to rinse with an alcohol-free rinse or just plain salt water.

1. ADA, Council on Scientific Affairs Report,

2 Mayo Clinic Staff Report,

3. ADA, Council on Scientific Affairs Report,

     As parents, we absolutely want what is best for our children in every way.  We are well aware of the specific milestones that our children should reach during the first eighteen months of life.   But there are several important growth and development factors that must be evaluated during the first decade of each child’s life.  It may surprise you that your child’s dentist should be the guardian of normal facial growth for your child, not just taking care of your child’s teeth.  The goal of your child’s dentist should be to monitor and guide the growth and development of young child’s face and teeth.       

     Many parents are unaware that 60% of their child’s facial development is completed by age 6, and that 90% is completed by age 12.  This means that the earlier your child sees a dentist that understands this, the better the opportunity to detect and correct developmental problems that are present.

     Facial growth involves the individual growth of each bone in the face.  Several things can cause an unequal growth of these bones and this imbalance may affect a child’s health and appearance. A normal balanced face is the result of more than just bone growth.  It is the balance of normally functioning muscles and teeth, proper nutrition, and the ability to breathe through the nose properly.  Studies show that when the proper balances are altered, changes in health and appearance occur.

      The most common abnormalities in facial growth and development are caused by a compromised airway--the inability to breathe properly through the nose.  These children breath through their mouth which sets up a chain of events which will severely impact not only the health of the child throughout his life, but also will impact the facial features.  The most common cause of this altered mouth breathing is enlarged adenoids and tonsils.

     The effects of a compromised airway on the growth of a child are revealed in many ways. The tongue positions itself between the lower teeth to allow a child to breathe through the mouth, changing the growth of the lower jaw so that it grows more vertically and makes the child’s face look longer. At the same time, the upper jaw and midface (the nasal bones, cheek bones, and bones supporting the tissue of the face) fail to develop outward because the tongue is not on the roof of the mouth 12-15 times per minute (the rate of breathing).  This would have pushed the roof of the mouth wider, counteracting the inward pressure from the cheek muscles.  The result of mouth breathing is a deficiency of growth of the upper jaw and midface which, added to the long facial growth from the lower jaw, directly impacts the facial balance and beauty of the child and later the adult.

     Children are born with small adenoids and tonsils.  They reach their maximum size between the ages of 3-6, and reduce in size during the teen years.  But they can become infected and block a child’s nasal passages resulting in nasal congestion, mouth breathing, and increased snoring.  In severe cases where the adenoids and tonsils block the nasal passages completely, they can cause sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea where breathing is stopped altogether.  A child may be tired all the time as a result of interrupted sleep related to the nasal blockage.  This may also result in a mis-diagnosis of ADHD when it is really sleep apnea.  But, of course, enlarged adenoids and tonsils are not only the cause of mouth breathing in children.  Other causes must be investigated by your physician.

     The ideal treatment for chronically enlarged, obstructing adenoids and tonsils is to have them surgically remove by a qualified surgeon.  The child’s dentist, working closely with an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Specialist, can help to eliminate these things which are causing abnormal facial growth.  In the cases where negative facial growth changes are already significant and facial harmony is already disrupted, the dentist may intervene and use various appliances to modify the abnormal growth pattern and restore the balance to growth.  Taking your child to the dentist as early as possible, yes even before age 3, is very important.

     It is important to bear in mind that no matter what your child’s rate of development and growth, a loving and supportive environment are crucial to his or her happiness and self-esteem.  If you have a concern about your child’s ability to breathe or rate of growth or development of the face or teeth, call our office for a free consultation to discuss the concern and see if anything can be done.

     Dr. Donald Johnson founded Northwest Treatment Center for Snoring & Sleep Apnea in Coeur d’Alene to help patients stop their snoring and LIVE FREE WITH NO LIMITS!  His office is at 114 W. Neider Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, near Costco.  The website for more information is and the office phone is 208-667-4551.





And You Think Snoring Is Just An Annoyance For Your Partner


     Snoring is more than just loud noise—it is a warning sign of a bigger problem that has serious consequences.  Pain is more than just something to get rid of; it is a warning sign of something more serious.  Pain may be from a cut that may become infected—it may be from a tooth that has an abscess—it may be from your bite that is out of balance from the left side to the right side.  But pain always indicates that there is something wrong that needs your attention.  And the attention you need it is not to cover up the pain but to find the cause of the pain and get rid of that cause.

     Snoring is the same.  It’s a warning sign of a serious, life-threatening problem.  Many people who snore just go on the internet to find a quick, cheap way to stop the snoring instead of finding someone who can help them find out what is actually wrong—what is causing the snoring—so they can fix the cause!

     Snoring in children is very serious!  It usually is a warning sign that the airway is collapsing during sleep in the child.  This may be from adenoids that are too large or it may be from tonsils that are too large.  But it is imperative that the parent find out why the child snores and correct it because, among other serious side effects, it can lead to a decrease in the amount of human growth hormone (HGH) that the developing child gets.  This is a very serious situation.  If someone just says that the child will grow out of it later in life, they just do not know that this loss of HGH in childhood is not recoverable—the effects are lifelong.

     Likewise, snoring in adults is serious!  It has been show to lead to cancer, strokes, and heart disease.  It has also been linked to diabetes, ED, and even death.  Some people think they just have a big tongue, especially if there are scallop marks on the sides of the tongue.  One can look in the mirror and see if their tongue has those marks.  The tongue just seems to be too big to fit between the teeth and rests on top of the lower teeth.  But many health professionals never suspect that the jaw may be too small for the tongue—which is usually the case.  And if the jaw if too small, the treatment will be different depending on the age of the person.  Children, adolescents, and adults have to be treated differently.

     So snoring is a serious medical condition that requires that you find a health professional trained specifically in this area it you are going to have it successfully treated.  Only then can you avoid the serious health consequences mentioned above.  Who wants to end up with a stroke that causes you to be unable to walk or talk for the rest of your life?  Especially when it can be easily and successfully prevented with proper treatment.

     Many people will go to the internet to find that quick, inexpensive way to stop the snoring and they think the problem is solved if there is no more nighttime noise.  They use devices like ZQuiet, GMSS, SnoreRx, VitalSleep, Snore Ex, Snore Eliminator, ProSnore, Zyppah (happy z spelled backwards), Snore Guard, etc.  A new one comes out every month; there are even ads for pillows and beds that will solve the problem.  But do they solve the problem?  Have they stopped the cause of the problem?  Are you willing to risk it?  That’s the real question!  It’s kind of like removing a nail from a flat tire and thinking that the nail is the problem when the real problem is the hole in the tire!!

     The beginning step a wise person should take it to have a trained health professional find the cause of the problem and then let them help you to eliminate that cause.  Sleeping in separate rooms or wearing ear plugs or getting a divorce is like removing the nail—the problem is not solved since the cause has not been eliminated.  Serious health consequences still exist.

 Dr. Donald Johnson founded Northwest Treatment Center for Snoring & Sleep Apnea in Coeur d’Alene to help patients stop their snoring and LIVE FREE WITH NO LIMITS!  His office is at 114 W. Neider Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, near Costco.  The website for more information is and the office phone is 208-667-4551.  SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT TODAY!



This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.