Technically Speaking

By Lori Sichtermann


2Drs-together-photoshop-1Ron Cohen, DDS, MSD, and Joel Johnson, MS, DMD, MSDIn many ways, Fort Wayne, Ind-based Cohen & Johnson Orthodontics is a demonstration of an ideal partnership. Each doctor brings to the practice a unique perspective—Cohen a technology guru, Johnson, an artistic musician who once performed in an opera. While their personal characteristics are distinct, both doctors posses a vivid understanding and a deep-rooted respect for the orthodontic profession.

For Ron Cohen, DDS, MSD, the path to becoming an orthodontist was a bit unconventional. “The choice for me was to become an engineer like my father or become a physician or dentist,” Cohen explains. “In eighth grade I decided to be a dentist, and pursued that career choice throughout college and dental school. After practicing for 5 years, the need for more engineering became evident. Thus, I entered a career path that melded engineering and dentistry: orthodontics. I could be a dental engineer!”

Cohen received his DDS from The Ohio State University and then returned to academia to obtain a Master of Science in Dentistry from Saint Louis University.

Joel Johnson, MS, DMD, MSD, took an even less conventional path to orthodontics. After high school, he spent 2 years as a missionary in Uruguay. After his work in South America, Johnson earned a Bachelor’s degree in biology and then a Master’s degree in education, both from Utah State University. With his education degree, Johnson taught high school for several years—a career that would influence his choice to pursue orthodontics after he decided to change his career course and enter dental school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“[As a teacher], I fell in love with working with young people and watching their lives transform,” Johnson says. “That, coupled with my interest in the mechanics of dentistry and orthodontics, is what led me to where I am today. Looking back on it, being an orthodontist was an obvious career choice for me.”
After dental school, Johnson and his young family, including his wife, Bridgett, who is a certified dental hygienist, moved to Ann Arbor, Mich, for his orthodontic residency.

In June 2011, Johnson joined Cohen at his practice in Fort Wayne. By the end of that year, the business officially changed its name to Cohen & Johnson Orthodontics. “Dr Johnson had many options, as most talented people do,” Cohen recalls. “We’ve had a tremendous working relationship since he joined the practice.”

Together, Cohen and Johnson established a practice that married the characteristics of both doctors. “I wanted to practice with an orthodontist who was on the cutting edge of technology and patient care,” Johnson recalls. “Dr Cohen fit the bill perfectly! Our treatment philosophies, personalities, and goals are all in sync, and working together is a joy.”

Making a Difference

Cohen & Johnson Orthodontics is a practice of passion. Both orthodontists work closely with patients and their parents, providing the most advanced treatment, while simultaneously maintaining their former passions to further their knowledge of orthodontics.

Even with a successful practice, Johnson’s love of educating remains. He currently teaches twice a month as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry.

Cohen also lectures on behalf of SureSmile and TruDenta about the advances in technology-driven orthodontics as it relates to such treatments as sleep apnea, TMJ, and advanced orthodontic surgical procedures. These aspects of the profession are of enormous interest to both doctors. Over the last several years, they’ve become increasingly involved with various studies using Cone Beam CT (CBCT) and orthodontics.

“The Cone Beam CT provides a 3D image of the entire head; this method of x-ray helps determine whether there are any potential problems with airway constriction, TMJ issues, root and impacted tooth positions, or other abnormalities that cannot be seen with the old standard two-dimensional radiographs,” Cohen explains. “When there are problems with airway constrictions, the CBCT helps to locate these, allowing us to either designate a specific treatment plan to help fix it or refer to appropriate medical personnel. Early detection is important.”

“We use CBCT for our patients in conjunction with SureSmile. That enables us to finish cases on average 9 months faster than with conventional orthodontics,” Johnson adds. “We are always looking for ways to improve treatment for our patients, and we are currently looking for a way to integrate electronic bite registrations with our SureSmile treatment.”

The creed at Cohen & Johnson states that the doctors use “only the best and most proven methods” to help patients obtain an incredible personalized smile. For Cohen and Johnson, growth and development, cosmetics, profile, joints, neuromuscular system, airway analysis, retention, lasers, microesthetics of smile design, and a logical comprehensive approach to functional relationships of the teeth are all considered to be specialties at the practice.

A Nurturing Environment

While the orthodontists at Cohen & Johnson Orthodontics are dedicated to their continued growth and education in the field, both doctors also feel strongly about making sure the patient knows he or she is the real priority.

“The patient comes first,” Cohen explains. “The teeth are attached to the patient, so we make sure each individual is treated well in our office.”

Practice Name: Cohen & Johnson Orthodontics
Location: Fort Wayne and Churubusco, IN
Specialty: Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
Patients Per Day: 75
Years in Private Practice: Cohen—30 years; Johnson—1 year
Day worked per week: 4

In order to make each patient feel welcomed and informed, Cohen and Johnson place much of the responsibility on their staff of talented individuals. “Our staff is magnificent,” Johnson adds. “They are always looking for ways to ensure that patients are as comfortable and happy as possible. Scheduling is built to provide for minimal to zero amount of time waiting. What’s more, the staff really gets to know our patients and are interested in their success in other aspects of their lives besides treatment.”

The welcoming environment created by the staff parlays well with the mood behind the scenes. As a working partnership, Cohen and Johnson have immeasurable respect for each other, and their rapport is evident, if not contagious. “We both love to have fun and laugh,” Johnson notes. “It’s great to bounce ideas off of each other for treatment. I believe that our patients benefit from having two of us to serve them.”

Even with the application of advanced technology and modern techniques—not to mention a great working relationship between doctors and staff—Cohen & Johnson Orthodontics would be substantially less successful if it weren’t for the operation’s dedication to communication.

“Because we do much more than just straighten the teeth, it is imperative to be able to communicate completely with all parties involved,” Cohen explains. “For example, our Web access allows patients access to their records, and we can, at any time, initiate a GoToMeeting communications portal to further communicate with our patients.”

As the evolution of orthodontics marches on, the orthodontists at Cohen & Johnson see some substantial changes on the horizon. “I think that we’ll continue to see more practices integrating the 3D concepts into their work, with computers becoming more powerful tools to help diagnose and treat patients,” Johnson says.

“Orthodontists truly specialize for the more involved cases, including surgical and nonsurgical treatment modalities,” Cohen explains. “Proper distribution of force values and condylar and neuromuscular positioning will be the specialist’s standard, not just straight teeth. I see orthodontists in the future treating patient health as well as esthetics.”

Both Cohen and Johnson had other career aspirations prior to becoming orthodontists. And for this, each brings a unique perspective to the profession and the practice. As the two continue to educate themselves, the orthodontic community, and their patients about advances in technology and procedures, they often pause to reflect on their decision to join the orthodontic community.

“Being able to be on the cutting edge of our profession while changing lives in the process is the best anyone can ask of a chosen profession,” Cohen proclaims. “The patient and professional interaction is always stimulating and rewarding. It is just plain fun!”

And, for Johnson, the feelings are similar. “I am a perfectionist, so being an orthodontist plays to that personality trait quite well,” he explains. “I love that I get to laugh every day with patients. Changing their smiles not only affects the way their teeth look and their bite fits, it changes how they feel about themselves and about life in general. I never tire seeing the change in people as we transform their smiles!”


Lori Sichtermann is a contributing writer for Orthodontic Products. For more information, contact [email protected].