All posts by Lou Donato

What is the Difference between Implants, Root Canals and Crowns?

Dental implants

Your dentist has recommended some dental work for you. He used terms like dental implants, root canals, and crowns. Truthfully, you got a little lost in the discussion. Now, you’d like to know exactly what each procedure means. Read on for an explanation of each and what the differences are.

Dental Implant – A dental implant is chosen when the root of the tooth is beyond repair. The dental implant is a metal component that fuses to the jaw bone to become a prosthesis to hold a new tooth. It acts as the root of the tooth to hold it in place. An artificial tooth is then attached to the false root. A dental implant can be done on any tooth. This is a more invasive procedure than a root canal or crown; however, the results are excellent.

Root Canal  A root canal is done in an attempt to save a tooth that is severely decayed or infected. During this procedure, the dental professional repairs the tooth by removing the nerve and the pulp. Once these are removed, the tooth is sealed. This prevents further infection and can save the tooth. A person may need a root canal if they have severe decay; large fillings; a crack, chip, or trauma to the tooth; or even repeated dental procedures. Often a root canal can save a tooth, and nothing more needs to be done.

Crown – A crown is a tooth-shaped piece placed over the tooth to restore its shape and size, strength, or improve its appearance, according to WebMD. Crowns are sometimes used in conjunction with other dental work, like dental implants or repairing a broken tooth. Sometimes this is the first line of defense in dentist offices before other more invasive dental work, like a dental implant.

Tooth diagram.


Which procedure is best?

When it comes to deciding what procedure is best, these are not always interchangeable. Sometimes there is a clear line of which procedure is best for you; other times, you may need to decide with the help of your dental professional. For instance, a crown may be a simple fix for a large cavity, while a root canal may work if you have an infected tooth. You may need a dental implant if there is no chance of saving the root or tooth.

A dental implant is necessary if the tooth needs to be extracted. Usually, once an implant is done, the replacement tooth will simply need the same care as your other teeth and last a lifetime. It is a more invasive procedure than a root canal, though.

The best thing to do is talk to your dentist and ask questions. If you would like to speak with one of our expert professionals, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. We are a dentist office that’s committed to helping our patients!

7 New Years’ Resolutions for a Healthy Mouth

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It’s time for those New Year’s Resolutions — 2019 is just about here. While thinking about getting to the gym or cleaning your closets out, don’t forget about your mouth. This is a great time to establish New Year’s Resolutions related to your dental health. If you need a little inspiration, check out the following ideas for resolutions.

Schedule your dental cleaning. If you don’t have it on the books already, go ahead and schedule your six-month cleaning, even if it’s a few months away. If you have a concern you’ve been putting off, schedule an appointment to get that checked. Do this for all of your family members.

Establish good daily care. Many of us brush twice a day but forget to floss on a daily basis. Buy yourself a supply of floss so that you have it on hand and make sure to floss at least once a day. Also, remember that two minutes of brushing each time is the recommended time. Practice these good habits and make them part of your routine.

Buy your family new toothbrushes. You should replace toothbrushes every 3-6 months (or if you have been sick with something like strep throat). It’s much easier to do if you have a supply already. Start the new year off with a new toothbrush, and you’ll remember when it’s time to replace.

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Help your kids get excited about good oral hygiene. Let them pick out a new toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste and begin to establish their own good oral hygiene habits. Help out with age-appropriate care, whether they need your help, your supervision or can be independent.

Cut out any tobacco use. If you smoke or use tobacco, the new year is a great time to quit this habit. Not only is this a bad habit for your overall health, but also your oral health. Look into programs or medical support to help you be successful in letting this habit go.

Look into cosmetic dentistry. If you have been thinking about whitening your teeth, veneers, or even adult braces; check into it. This can be a holiday treat to yourself and let you begin your new year with a brand new, confident smile. Contact your dentist office or find a dentist that can help you out with this.

Schedule with an orthodontist for your child. It may be time for your child to see one of the orthodontists in your area. You can get a consultation or begin an orthodontic treatment plan. Often your family dentist can recommend an orthodontist for you.

The new year is a time to reset and take care of yourself after the mad rush of the holidays. Take the time to implement good oral hygiene and let this new year be a healthy one all around. If you need a new dental home, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates for any of your needs. Happy New Year!

How to Keep your Smile its Whitest, Even Beyond Whitening

Dentist office

It’s easier now than ever before to get your teeth looking great. In a matter of minutes, you can see a brighter smile with teeth whitening.

So how do you whiten your teeth? Many options exist from in-office whitening at your family dentist’s office to doing it at home yourself through a number of different methods. Let’s take a look.


In Office Whitening

Usually, this can be done with one office visit to your cosmetic dentist or local dentist offices. The dentist will apply a solution (containing safe bleach) to your teeth while protecting your gums. You can see results right away.


At Home Professional Kits

Your dentist can also provide you with whitening kits that you can do at home. These usually consist of trays fitted to your teeth and bleaching gels or solutions. You will wear the trays with the gel for a specified amount of time each day until you get the results you want. The results you’re looking for can take from days to a few weeks. This is a nice option because you can hold on to your trays and order new solutions when you want to touch up your teeth.


Over the Counter Products

You can find a number of products in the stores or online to do yourself, from strips to whitening toothpaste. Make sure that you use only ADA accepted products and that you follow directions closely.

Dentist office

These are some methods to actively whiten your teeth, but you can also take measures to help keep them looking their best and brightest without going the chemical method. You may not get the same results, but the following may help prevent yellowing and staining.

Stay away from things that will induce staining or discoloration. These are things like:

  • Tobacco – Tar and nicotine can cause yellowish, stained teeth.
  • Coffee and tea – The tannins and chromogens in these drinks can cause some staining. Adding some milk or cream will help a little; black coffee and tea are darker so can stain more. Green, white and herbal teas stain less, if at all.
  • Red wine – Red wine also has the tannins and chromogens that can stain teeth. Some people find that when they drink wine, their teeth temporarily stain.
  • Dark soda – Drinks like colas and root beer can stain teeth over time. The dark colors can stain while the acid can reduce the enamel. Staying away from soda, especially dark types, can help maintain a whiter smile.

A bright white smile can make all the difference in how you feel about your self and your appearance. You may notice yourself smiling more, which in turn makes you happier. If you aren’t happy with your smile, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates, and we can discuss your options to help you feel great about your smile. We are here to help!

Holiday Dental Hygiene – Don’t Forget!

The holidays are here! It’s a fun and festive time of year, with parties and get-togethers and extra treats, maybe even some overindulgence. Sure, some of your healthy habits may take a short break, but don’t let your dental hygiene fall by the wayside.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain your good dental hygiene during the holidays:

  • Stick you your routine. Make sure you still floss and brush twice a day. If you are traveling, pack your dental floss and an extra toothbrush. Some people like to pack a party pouch to keep their mouth fresh at parties or events. Even if you’re tired before bed, take that time to brush well and floss. You don’t want to pay later with cavities or decay.
  • Drink lots of water. Regardless of what else you may be drinking during the holidays, keep drinking water. This helps with digestion and keeps your breath fresh. Even if you are indulging on delicious holiday desserts, water can help you maintain a healthy mouth.
  • Stay away from the stain inducers. Drinks like red wine and cranberry juice can stain your teeth. If you’ve invested in whitening, or you just want to avoid stains, stick to the light colored or clear drinks.
  • Eat your cheese. Who knew that a nibble of cheese at a party can help combat the acidity of too much wine or other adult beverages? According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, cheese also adds more saliva which can wash away what’s in your mouth and aid in digestion.
  • Beware of sticky foods. People often eat things like caramels, fancy popcorn, and peanut brittle during the holiday season—all of which can damage teeth. Watch out for sticky foods that hang out in your mouth for a long time; they can lead to decay and cavities.
  • Don’t use your teeth for things you shouldn’t. Believe it or not, plenty of people use their teeth to open things, from packages to walnuts to bottles. Don’t do it. This can cause cracks and damage, and you can always find something else to do the job. You don’t want to have to end up in the emergency dentist instead of enjoying the holidays.
  • Keep your appointments. Don’t put off appointments you have scheduled, or if you sense a problem, go ahead and get it looked at. We all know it’s a busy time of year, but it’s better to get in there and get things checked out than be in pain or find out you have damage later.

If you are looking for a new dental home for any of your needs, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. Our expert, compassionate staff would love to answer any of your questions. Happy holidays from Watkin Dental Associates.

Keys to Successful Brushing for Your Healthiest Mouth

Dental implants

We all do it. We all brush our teeth, most of us morning and night. Grab the toothbrush, dollop some toothpaste and brush away, right? Actually, there’s a lot more to it than that. To get the most from your brushing techniques and maintain a healthy mouth, follow these expert tips.

  • Make sure to pick the right toothbrush. No matter the size or shape of your brush, go with soft bristles. Not only will soft bristles protect your gums and enamel, but they will also be able to get under the gums for optimum cleaning. The size of the brush depends on your preferences and the size of your mouth. 
  • Be kind and gentle when you brush. Hold your brush gently, almost like a violin bow. You don’t need to scrub your teeth, think of brushing more like a massage, says WebMD.
  • Brush for two minutes. Take the time to brush your teeth to avoid damage which could lead to dental implants or root canals. Play a song or set the timer on your phone. Use these moments to take a break from your busy-ness and take two minutes for yourself.
  • Change your toothbrush. When you visit your family dentist, he or she will give you a new toothbrush. Toss your old one and use the new one! People tend to hold onto their toothbrushes for too long, but it’s important to change them out every few months. Three to four months is ideal.
    Dental implants

  • Brush after meals. If you are particularly prone to cavities, take the time to brush after meals. Letting food sit on teeth too long can lead to bacteria which will lead to decay. The best practice, however, is to wait at least 15 minutes right after eating. This allows the acid in your mouth to reduce before brushing. And make sure to brush before bed and after the last thing you eat at night. Even if the last thing you eat is a midnight snack!
  • Brush the inside of your teeth. People tend to focus on the outside of their teeth and the flat surfaces of back teeth. Make sure to get the inside of the teeth, the tongue side.
  • Don’t forget to floss. Floss at least once a day. Most people take the time at night to really do a nice job on dental hygiene, take those two minutes to brush, floss and prevent unnecessary trips to your dentist.

It may seem complicated, but if you follow these tips and develop healthy brushing habits, you may prevent decay and dental work down the road. Make sure to visit your dentist on a regular basis as well. If you are looking for gentle family dentistry, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. We’d love to be your new dental home!

A Quick Guide to Dental Veneers

Maybe you think veneers are only for the rich and famous. But that’s not quite true. Sure, many celebrities turn to dental veneers to achieve the perfect smile, but you can too. There’s a reason so many celebs choose veneers.


What Is a Dental Veneer?

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), a veneer is a “thin piece of porcelain used to re-create the natural look of teeth, while also providing strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel.” Your cosmetic dentist will fit these to your teeth and bond them to the tooth’s enamel.

People choose veneers for aesthetic purposes when they want to improve the shape, size or color of teeth. Veneers can also cover things like small chips or gaps, and you can choose a veneer on one tooth, some or all depending on your needs and goals for your smile. Porcelain veneers are the most common.

According to Colgate, veneers can last from 10 to 20 years and cost anywhere from $800 to $2000 per tooth. Some of the cost factors depend on where you live in the US.


What Is the Process for Placing Dental Veneers?

When you visit your cosmetic dentist, he or she will discuss the procedures for placing veneers as well as the care and maintenance of them.

Because most veneers are custom created, you will need two appointments. The second one is when the veneers are placed, and here is what usually happens:

  • The dentist will clean the tooth and shave a small amount of it off to make room for the veneer. Sometimes anesthesia is used, it usually depends on the patient’s sensitivity.
  • Next an impression is made and the color is matched for the porcelain veneer. A temporary veneer is placed on the tooth.
  • Once the veneer is made and sent to the dentist, you will come for your second appointment where the dentist will remove the temporary veneer and place the permanent one, curing it lightly and polishing it up.


How Do You Care for Veneers?

  • You can treat your veneers as you would your other teeth, with proper brushing and flossing.
  • You may want to stay away from staining foods and drinks, like coffee, tea and red wine as veneers can stain like teeth.
  • Veneers can still chip and break, or even come off, so be careful with chewing or biting on hard things, like ice and your nails. Be mindful of your veneers.
  • Maintain regular dental visits. Your veneers, like your other teeth, need to be cleaned by a professional on a regular basis. Your dentist will polish them with professional equipment and also keep an eye on them.
  • If you decide on veneers, it’s an investment. Make sure you take good care of them.

If you are considering dental veneers, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. Our expert staff can help you with any concerns and make this a pleasant experience. Our goal is to help you get your very best smile!

How to Instill Good Dental Health Habits in Children

Kids dental care

When you are raising kids, you have to continually instill habits in them that will set the stage for a long, healthy, happy life. This includes good oral hygiene, everything from brushing teeth properly to making healthy food choices. shares some helpful tips for helping your kids begin a lifetime of good dental care:

  • Model good brushing technique. Brush your teeth together, open and close together, apply toothpaste and brush for the same amount of time together. Kids like to do what their parents do, and this can start at a very young age. Establish a routine of brushing, morning and night, to show them this is a lifelong habit. Dentists recommend brushing for at least two minutes twice a day. Some parents like to set a timer, play a song or use a toothbrush that has a built-in timer.
  • Provide healthy foods and drinks. Kids dental care goes far beyond brushing teeth. Provide healthy snacks and drinks, stay away from the overly sugary ones, like candy and soda, and make sure they brush after eating sticky foods. Establishing good eating and drinking habits will help them keep it up when they leave your house. Also, make sure they brush after a late night snack.
  • “Play detective.” Don’t just ask if they’ve brushed their teeth. If you get the vibe they haven’t, or just want to check, take a look to see if their toothbrushes are wet or smell their breath to see if you can smell the toothpaste.
  • Visit the dentist. It is important to take your child to the dentist before their first birthday. Not only is this vital from a dental standpoint, but it also establishes and familiarizes your child with a dentist. With gentle family dentistry, this does not have to be a stressful event.
  • Seal the teeth. Many dentists now will want to place sealants on the chewing surfaces of children’s teeth. This can prevent decay later on which can lead to cavities, root canals or even dental implants down the road.

Kids dental care

Know that healthy kid teeth lead to healthy adult teeth. Establishing routines and habits at a young age leads to healthy adult habits and routines. If your child has brushed his teeth every night before bed for 18 years, he will be more likely to do so when he heads off to college. If you’ve always taken your daughter to twice-yearly dental appointments, she’ll be more likely to take herself as an adult.

Also, know that cavities and other dental issues can happen no matter what you do. However, if you have established a habit of regular dental visits, problems can be caught and treated in the early stages. You work hard to teach your children a lot of lifetime habits, make sure good dental care is one of these.

If you have any questions or are looking for a dental professional for you or your child, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. We are here for you!

The Difference Between Restorative Dentistry and Cosmetic Dentistry

You may hear some terms tossed around when you visit your family dentist. Some may apply to you and further treatment, so it’s important to understand the vocabulary dentists use and different types of dentistry. Two distinct types are restorative dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Here are the main differences, even though there are also quite a few similarities.


Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry has the focus of making the teeth and your smile more attractive. Some of the primary treatments performed in cosmetic dentistry are:

  • Teeth whitening
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Porcelain crowns
  • Dental implants
  • Teeth straightening
  • Tooth-colored fillings
  • Aligners
  • Contouring
  • Bonding

Many cosmetic dentists do some restorative dentistry while they are working but also take the extra time and effort for the additional cosmetic component. Other times there is no restorative work involved at all, and the goal is purely cosmetic. An example of this could be veneers, where the patient simply wants them for cosmetic reasons (to look better), even though there is no functional reason for them.

When people are self-conscious about a part of their smile, they may seek a cosmetic dentist. Whitening, veneers, contouring and bonding are probably the most common types of cosmetic dentistry. These all involve the shape and color of teeth, but not really function. However, there are often emotional benefits of cosmetic dentistry that are important to note. An improved smile can make a person feel happier, more confident, and less self-conscious in social situations.


Restorative Dentistry

Restorative dentistry involves procedures that keep your mouth healthy and functioning well. Most general and family dentists have some involvement with restorative dentistry, like fillings and crowns. Some restorative dentistry requires more specializations, like with dental implants or root canals. Some of the most common types of restorative dentistry are:

  • Fillings
  • Root Canals
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Implants

However, just like with a cosmetic dentist, there may be some overlap. For instance, if you need a dental implant, the restorative work should be finished with a tooth that looks matches your natural teeth including shape and color, and this could be considered cosmetic dentistry.

One major difference is that often times cosmetic dentistry is elective, like tooth whitening, veneers or teeth straightening. You can have a perfectly healthy and functioning mouth but would like some aesthetic improvements, and that’s when you seek a cosmetic dentist.

On the other hand, often your dentist will determine if you need a crown or implant. This is purely restorative. The end result will probably have some cosmetic components, but you would not elect to do this on your own.

Many dentists work with both forms of dentistry. Cosmetic and restorative often go hand in hand. If you are wondering about either type or what a procedure in your future entails, talk to your family dentist. They should be happy to answer any questions.

You can also contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. Our expert staff can help you with whatever your dentistry needs are, and we are happy to answer any questions to help you figure out your next dental steps.

What Does My Toothache Mean?

Person placing their hand to their mouth appearing in pain.

A wise woman once said when your mouth or feet hurt, your whole body hurts. A toothache can be from mildly uncomfortable to unbearable, and it is important to know when to seek treatment if you’re experiencing tooth pain. Let’s take a look at some common causes, symptoms and treatments of a toothache.


What is a toothache?

A toothache constitutes any pain in or around a tooth, including soreness or achiness. This includes sensitivity to hot, cold or even sweet foods, pain when chewing or biting, a sharp pain or a constant dull ache.


How does your dentist know?

When you visit your dentists, even for a dental cleaning, your dentist will determine why your tooth hurts. Some measures of diagnosing including talking to you and asking questions, x-rays, tapping on the tooth or having you bite down. Sometimes a dentist will use a cold air test. These are all standard measures, and with gentle family dentistry, your dentist will keep discomfort to a minimum.


Causes of toothaches:

Tooth decay – This is erosion or cavity formation in the enamel of the tooth. Once the enamel begins to erode and decay sets in, the middle layer of the tooth can be affected causing sensitivity and pain. Usually, a simple filling will resolve this issue and cure your toothache.

Woman in dental chair with her mouth against her cheek appearing in pain.

Tooth pulp inflammation or abscess – This is when the inner pulp becomes affected through inflammation or infection. Either can lead to a very painful situation which requires treatment. Sometimes antibiotics may help, but often this will lead to a root canal.

Damaged tooth – Teeth can become damaged through accidents or normal wear and tear. Something as simple as biting down on a hard piece of food like a popcorn kernel can damage a tooth. Usually, you will have pain or sensitivity when using that tooth. Depending on the extent of the damage, your dentist may do anything from simply filing the tooth a little to a filling or crown or even consider dental implants.

Sensitive teeth – If your teeth are sensitive, let your dentist know. Though there may be nothing wrong, you can usually take measures, like using specific toothpaste, or staying away from extreme temperature foods to alleviate the sensitivity.

Gum disease – Gums play an important role in dental health, and if they begin to recede or detach, bacteria can set in causing tooth decay and sensitivity. Some dentists recommend gum grafts to help this depending on the progression of the gum disease.

Sinus infection – A sinus infection can cause tooth pain even though it’s not directly related. The pressure from the infection can make teeth (especially upper teeth) sensitive and sore. The treatment for this usually is a round of antibiotics to cure the sinus infection.


See your dentist:

If you are experiencing a toothache or dental discomfort, see your dentist. Your dentist will explain the procedures or measures to take to fix the problem. Usually, things aren’t as bad as you think, however, if left untreated, symptoms and the condition can worsen.

Please reach out to us at Watkin Dental Associates for any of your dental needs. We are here to help! See what other patients say about us here.

All About Braces and Aligners

Woman smiling with braces.Most people are aware that braces can fix uneven, crowded or crooked teeth. However, they can do more than that. Malocclusion, meaning bad bite, is the primary reasons for braces, and bad bites are not always due to crooked or crowded teeth. Misaligned jaws can be the reason for a bad bite even when teeth are straight. Braces can help in this situation.

Braces not only can make a smile prettier, but they also help your overall oral health. According to, the following can result from a bad bite:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Affected speech and/or chewing
  • Abnormal wear to tooth enamel
  • Jaw problems

These can be lifelong problems, so it’s best to address the issue as early as possible. While braces for teeth are the most common form of fixing a bite and straightening teeth, there are other methods as well.


Types of Braces and Alignment Devices

Talking with your family dentist or a cosmetic dentist can help figure out what procedure is best for you or your child when it comes to straightening teeth. Here are some of the most common methods:

Braces – Braces align the teeth with pressure. Small brackets and wire are adjusted by the orthodontist to create the desired effect. There are some options, like metal or clear braces, and sometimes professionals can even put the brackets behind the teeth to make them less visible. Usually, braces are worn for anywhere from one to three years.

Retainers – Retainers are worn after braces are removed, but if there is only minimal correction to be made, sometimes people can wear retainers instead of braces. They are less expensive and can be taken out. However, they do not correct as much as braces will do. It is important for anyone who has had braces to continue with a retainer after the braces are removed to keep their teeth in place.

Clear Aligners – Invisalign is the most common brand of aligners, and this is a progressive method where you start with one set of clear aligners (trays that fit over your teeth and adjust them) and move through a series of trays until the desired effect is achieved. Issues like spaces work well with aligners because they can be fixed with less pressure than other problems within the mouth. Many adults prefer aligners to braces as they are less noticeable and can be taken out, though they do need to be worn for the majority of the day.

Man smiling with white teeth showing.

Some things to consider when choosing what method to use are things like:

  • Issues within the mouth (how severe is crowding, crookedness or misalignment)
  • Financial cost
  • Length of time for the procedure
  • Invasiveness of method

Many times there is a clear-cut choice, but often, especially with adults who may want to adjust a previously modified smile, there are some choices to make. Speak to your dental professional or please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates to help you decide. We’d love to help you attain the perfect smile