Aroostook County – There’s a new addition to TAMC’s Active Medical Staff, and young mouths all over the region will benefit from the collaboration.
Dr. Erik Johnson, DMD, is a pediatric dentist who works at the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic in Presque Isle. Under the new agreement with TAMC, Dr. Johnson will utilize TAMC’s operating rooms when his patients have specialized needs for procedures which are difficult to perform in the confines of his dental office.
“Although most of his patients are seen in the clinic, there are those patients with special physical or behavioral needs that require their dental procedures to be done under general anesthesia in a controlled operating room setting with professional anesthesia personnel (CRNAs and anesthesiologists) in attendance,” explained Jay Reynolds, MD, who is the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Clinical Officer at TAMC.
Dr. Johnson came to The County with the goal of providing dental care for children and adults with special health care needs by providing compassionate, comprehensive dental treatment in a child-friendly environment.
“When I was practicing in Bangor, many of my patients were travelling 300 miles for dental treatment, one filling at a time. It was a big struggle for their families,” explained Dr. Johnson. “Seeing the need in the Aroostook County area for a pediatric dentist was a big driving factor in moving to the area. My wife Denise grew up in Van Buren, and we wanted to come home to The County.”
Dr. Johnson began practicing as a general dentist, but realized that a number of his pediatric patients needed a higher level of care than he was experienced to provide. He decided to complete a two-year residency program in pediatric dentistry at Lutheran Medical Center so he could learn how to better work with these patients, including how to treat pediatric patients under anesthesia in the office or in the operating room.
When he looked to move to northern Maine, the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic and TAMC were a natural fit for him. In addition to the care he is providing at the clinic, his addition to the TAMC active medical staff gives him access to the OR, as well as adds him to the rotation of specialized providers who provide on-call coverage for TAMC’s emergency department. Dr. Johnson will perform his first procedure in the OR in mid-April.
“Many of my patients have medical conditions that make cooperating in a dental chair challenging. Others are either too young to sit still or have so many teeth that need work that it would be very difficult for them. For those who need a lot of work, it can often be easier to complete it all at once, so they can start fresh and we can then concentrate on health and prevention,” said Dr. Johnson. “Being able to use general anesthesia in the OR will make such a difference for these patients. We can now treat them here without them having to travel to Bangor for this type of service.”
Dr. Reynolds says the collaboration between Dr. Johnson and TAMC will benefit the community, which is something the hospital always strives to do.
“This is a first time service for TAMC. This will result in care that is safer and more comfortable for the patients. This collaboration allows TAMC to live its mission to improve the health of our friends and neighbors,” he said.
A native New Englander, Dr. Johnson grew up in Manchester Connecticut. He graduated from the Loomis Chafee School and then Hamilton College with a B.A. in biology. He received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine.
While in dental school, Dr. Johnson worked in emergency medicine as a volunteer firefighter in the East Farms Fire Department in Farmington, Connecticut. Following graduation from dental school, he worked at the Penobscot Community Health Center for three years as a general dentist where he treated many children. He sought further education in advanced behavior management, sedation, dental rehabilitation under general anesthesia, and treating patients with complex medical conditions.
At the St. Apollonia Dental office, he provides preventative, restorative, endodontic, and oral surgery dentistry. He provides sedation for children and adults with special needs in the pediatric office as well as dental treatment under general anesthesia for children in The County at TAMC.
Dr. Johnson and his wife Denise enjoy hiking, fishing, and biking in Maine, and spending time with their 18-month-old boy and 12-week-old girl.
To make an appointment with Dr. Johnson, interested persons can call his office at 207-554-5045. The clinic sees patients with all types of insurance, including Maine Care, as well as patients who self-pay.