A Step-by-Step Guide to Dental Implant Procedures

Dental implantsYou’re considering dental implant surgery as a permanent solution to replace some missing teeth. What is a dental implant? What does the procedure entail? What can you expect throughout the process?


Why Dental Implants?

Dental implants offer several benefits for patients who have missing teeth. They’re natural-looking and function just like your natural teeth, so there are no restrictions on what you can eat or drink. Dental implants also help prevent jawbone loss that can occur over time with missing teeth. They are a low-maintenance, highly-effective, and permanent restoration option.


What Is a Dental Implant?

During a dental implant procedure, the dentist surgically places a titanium post into the jawbone. The post functions as the tooth root, and it provides a solid foundation for a new tooth replacement or crown.


The Procedure

Depending on how many missing teeth you have, an implant procedure can take a few visits over the course of several months. During the initial procedure, a small incision is made in the gum for the implant. The dentist drills a small hole in the bone and places the implant there. The incision is stitched closed and the implant sets and heals for a few months.

During a follow-up appointment, the dentist will make another incision to check on the dental implant. A cap is applied to protect the implant and to help the surrounding gum tissue heal. After another few weeks, the cap is removed. The next step is affixing the abutment to the dental implant to support the replacement tooth. Then after another couple of weeks, the dentist affixes the replacement tooth.

Sometimes, though not often, a bone graft is necessary if your jaw bone is not strong enough to support the implant. With this, more support is provided to help the new tooth handle the pressure from chewing and daily habits.

Dental implants



During the time that the implant is setting within the existing bone, it’s important to be gentle with that part of your mouth. Listen to what your family dentist advises so that the area can heal and strengthen in the best way possible. In some cases, you may be prescribed pain medication or antibiotics to help with the healing process.

Once the final procedure is completed, you’ll still need to let final healing take place. That may mean taking certain medications again and eating soft foods. Pay special attention to brushing and flossing that area.

For more information, Watkin Dental Associates. We’re here to help. We are experts in dental implants and can provide helpful guidance and answer any questions you may have about the procedure.

Which Foods Are the Worst for Your Teeth?

Dental cleaning
You probably remember your mom telling you not to eat sugar before bed because it’s bad for your teeth. But why is this the case, and are there truly foods that are bad for your teeth? Can your diet result in a better smile?

Some foods, even healthy ones, can damage tooth enamel and cause decay. Usually, though, these issues occur when foods are eaten in excess and left in the mouth for a long time (like eating sugar before bed). “It’s when we excessively use one thing that [it] can become a problem,” says Matthew Messina, dentist and spokesman for the American Dental Association in an article on Health.com.

Preventative dentistry is smart, and it’s not just going to the dentist for a cleaning that leads to a healthy mouth. You can practice preventive dentistry through home care and eating well. For instance, here are some foods to eat in moderation for healthy teeth and gums:

Coffee and tea – Coffee and tea are not as bad as some other foods and drinks, but they are worth mentioning. Too much coffee or tea can lead to tooth stains. Also, many people add sugar to their coffee and tea, which can lead to decay, especially for those who sip all day. Mouthhealthy.org recommends drinking plenty of water with these drinks to keep the mouth clean and hydrated.

Citrus – Lemon and grapefruit can be rough on teeth; the juice is very acidic and can erode enamel. The good news is that store-bought juice is also fortified with calcium and vitamin D, both of which are good for teeth. Orange juice has less acid than grapefruit juice, so it may be the better choice if you need your citrus fix.

Soda and sports drinks – For a lot of reasons, soda should not be a major part of your diet. The sugar is bad for your teeth and can lead to decay, and the acid in soda can also harm your teeth by eroding enamel. Sports drinks have similar effects; the tooth enamel can be compromised because of their acidity. If you can’t go without, drink them with a meal so the acids are partially neutralized by the food. Water is your best bet, it’s healthier all around.

Dental cleaning

Dried fruit – As healthy as dried fruit can be, the stickiness factor is not friendly to your teeth. Because sticky foods tend to stay on your teeth longer than non-sticky foods, they can cause decay. So go ahead and eat your raisins and dried figs, but make sure to brush afterward and rinse well with water.


Why is enamel erosion dangerous?

Most people know that decay can lead to cavities, but what about enamel erosion? When the enamel erodes, teeth can become discolored and sensitive. Demineralization can occur, according to colgate.com, and this can lead to decay over time.


See your dentist

Along with your at home dental care, make sure to see your family dentist for a dental cleaning twice a year. Effective family dental care is important for avoiding problems down the road. Watkin Dental Associates will help you keep your smile healthy! Please contact us for more information.

A Quick Reference Guide to Cosmetic Dentistry

What is a cosmetic dentist

We often think of the dentist as the one who cleans our teeth or fills cavities. However, dentists do much more than preventative care. These days, dentists often perform cosmetic procedures in addition to regular check-ups and cleanings.


What is a cosmetic dentist?

The AACD (American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry) defines cosmetic dentistry as dentistry that is aimed at creating positive change to your teeth and to your smile. This is a complement to general dentistry, not a replacement for it.

It makes sense for general dentists to take part in cosmetic dentistry. Often, a small, necessary procedure can add a new boost to the patient’s smile and confidence.


Five Types of Cosmetic Dental Procedures

If you are thinking of making a visit to the dentist for cosmetic work, here are five common procedures your dentist may do:

1. Tooth Whitening: This a very simple and common procedure, and dentists have been doing this in office for quite a while. Tooth whitening can be done in office, or you can do it at home. For home whitening, your dentist will make a mold of your teeth, and you’ll use gels in the mold to whiten your teeth. Usually, this is a fairly inexpensive procedure.

2. Dental Veneers: Many people choose veneers instead of whitening because veneers can also change the shape of the tooth. In this procedure, the dentist removes about a half-millimeter of enamel from the surface of the tooth. Then, custom-made shells of tooth-colored porcelain or resin are bonded onto the front of the teeth. This can change the color, shape, size, or length of the tooth.

Family cosmetic dentistry

3. Tooth Shaping: Tooth sharing is a fairly simple procedure that can be done in the office. The dentist fills or removes some of the enamel to reshape the tooth. Tooth shaping is usually painless, effective and not very expensive.

Bonding: This procedure is similar to veneers but can cover bigger imperfections. The dentist will bond tooth-colored material to the tooth’s surface to cover a cracked, misshapen or discolored tooth.

5. Dental Crown: This is sometimes called a cap and is material that fits over a badly damaged tooth. The damage to the tooth is removed, and the cap is fitted over what is left of the tooth. Years ago, this would often be noticeable, but with cosmetic dentistry, the dentist can match the crown color to the other teeth and give it a natural appearance.



You may be bothered by small imperfections in your smile, or you made need major dental work. Either way, your dentist can help with cosmetics. These procedures can have immediate, positive effects on your smile.

With cosmetic dentistry, improvements on your smile are no longer majorly invasive procedures. They are also becoming more and more affordable and accessible. If you are thinking of any of these cosmetic procedures, please contact us.

How 3D Printing Is Transforming Your Dental Experience

Digital dentistry

When you think of 3D printing, lots of things may come to mind—fun items like key chains or trinkets, and some useful things like toothpaste tube squeezers or headphone wraps so your headphone wires don’t tangle. You are probably familiar with some medical prosthetics as well.

Maybe you do think about the advances in the medical world, but who knew that the dental field is the largest 3D printing market? According to an article in the Huffington Post, the 3D industry is where more than $4 billion in prosthetic, orthodontic and other dental parts are made each year.


How is the Dental Industry Using 3D Printing?

The dental industry is taking advantage of 3D printing and being transformed by not only the products themselves but also how 3D printing improves procedures.

Here are some dental products commonly being 3D printed, according to Envisiontec:

  • Highly accurate dental and orthodontic models
  • Castable crowns, bridges and partial denture frameworks
  • Direct crowns and bridges
  • Bite splints or night guards
  • Indirect bonding trays
  • Surgical drill guides
  • Denture bases


Benefits of 3D Printing in the Dental World

The dental world is seeing immense benefits form 3D printing for both the practitioners and the patients. Here’s why:

More Affordable

With the ease of 3D printing, dentists can cut cost for themselves and their patients. 3D printers are becoming more affordable, and it’s practical now to have one in office. The need to send images out to third-party manufacturers is becoming a thing of the past, and the dentists can save money this way and in turn, so can the patients.

More Convenient

Now that dentists can have 3D printers in their offices, they can produce the needed product in a matter of minutes. Just like making procedures more affordable by not having to send images out to be created, it saves time as well. Patients don’t have to make multiple visits and wait with temporary crowns or other appliances in their mouths.

Digital dentistry

More Precise

Another advantage of 3D printing is the precision in which product is created. Using exact images combined with digital dentistry, the teeth or other models are created to exact specifications to fit perfectly where they need to go.


Other Advantages

Some new materials are being used in 3D printing to make for better products. For example, the Dental Review shares information on a new antimicrobial material that will kill bacteria in the mouth. This leads to better oral hygiene and less tooth decay over time.

Patient education is another advantage. Because all of this can take place in office, the dentist can share what is being done and show the patient how best to care for his or her mouth. By involving the patient more, a better experience can take place.

3D dentistry is transforming the dental world. Big things are happening, and it’s all to the advantage of the patient as well as the dentist. These innovations make an overall better experience for the patient, which will lead to long-term dental health.

Watkin Dental Associates is proud to be an innovative family practice with a patient-centered focus. Please contact us for more information on expert dental care for you and your family.

Cosmetic Dentistry Through the Years

cosmetic dentistryIn the past, beautiful teeth were not nearly as important as strong teeth. Because of this, modern cosmetic dentistry didn’t really take off until the 1980s. However, people did find ways to whiten and replace teeth throughout time. These methods may not have been pleasant or very effective, but they paved the way for the dental discoveries that lead to today’s dental technology and methods. This article provides a brief history of cosmetic dentistry throughout the ages.

The Early Days of Dentistry Weren’t Pretty
Ancient times were not very pretty for dentistry patients. The Etruscans attempted to replace teeth using unusual materials. Dentures were formed from ivory and bone, as well as human and animal teeth, which were usually taken from the dead.

Ancient Egyptians also sunk their teeth into cosmetic dentistry. They used gold to make crowns and bridges and sometimes even hammered seashells into their gums. Additionally, they combined pumice stone and vinegar to make a tasty whitening toothpaste. As unpleasant as that sounds, it was probably easier on the tastebuds than the whitening methods the Ancient Romans used. The Romans reportedly used urine, which apparently has immense whitening abilities, as a convenient whitening mouthwash.

During the Middle Ages, people got a two-for-one service at the barber shop. Barbers set down the razor and picked up the dental instruments to file and coat teeth to make them whiter. However, these pearly whites were short-lived, as the coat often destroyed the tooth’s enamel. Soon after, people decided to let barbers stick to hair.

Finally in the 1700s, people began using porcelain for dentures, thus drastically improving cosmetic dentistry. Although this was a great improvement, cosmetic dentists began using metal in the sockets of missing teeth, which were often rejected by the body. Eventually, dentists started using molds with plaster to ensure the dentures were fitted properly.

Fortunately, today’s dentists know the drill when it comes to cosmetic dentistry, and can perform dental implants, whitening, and fillings with ease. Dentists now use more biocompatible and economical materials for dentures and have safer methods of teeth whitening.

Nowadays, there is more of a focus on beautiful, natural looking teeth. In fact, according to an AACD survey, 99.7% of adults believe a healthy smile is important for their social lives. Cosmetic dentistry is now a safe, popular choice for people who want a smile they can feel confident about.

Digital Impressions: No Gag Dentistry

It wasn’t too long ago that when you went to the dentist for certain procedures, like dental impressions, you knew you were in for some serious discomfort. With your mouth stuffed full of a dental compound, the dentist left you alone while it set and you sat in discomfort for what seemed like forever trying not to gag.

Now, however, modern dentistry is making great changes and instead of dental compounds, dentists are using digital impressions. Besides the comfort factor, digital impressions have some other advantages. Let’s take a look…

  • Digital scans do not degrade. Dental Products Report shares that because digital scans don’t degrade, they have advantages. They can be stored with a patient’s electrical file and accessed virtually anywhere. They can be reused so the scan only has to be done once.
  • Digital scans are more efficient. Because this is a more detailed method than traditional compounds, the end product is better. The need for remakes is reduced. End products can be produced quicker and e the need for consecutive visits is eliminated. Even if a lab still has to make the final product, the images can be sent directly and save time. There’s not an issue of losing images, either, as they are stored and sent electronically.
  • Digital scans are more accurate and the resulting products fit better and last longer.
  • Dentists also like the ability to see the images at close and detailed context. They can enlarge areas and see exactly what they are working on with digital imaging.

Digital dentistry


Patient Experience

Getting back to the patient experience, digital imaging is a great advancement. By losing that mouth full of a compound and the tendency to gag, patients are much more comfortable. With comfort, people are more prone to get their dental work done. This, in turn, leads to healthier mouths and better overall health.

3Shape reports a real fear of gagging at the dentist’s office. This fear keeps people out of the office, which is not only bad for the patient but also bad for the dentists.

The American Dental Association reported that 7.5% of patients almost-always gag when they visit a dentist. Because of that, people are afraid to go to the dentist. Imagine as a business owner, losing nearly one in ten customers because they are scared of you.

Patients are much happier in the office, more likely to return and even will tell their friends about the good dental experience.

Digital dentistry


Modern Dentistry

Digital dentistry is helping modern dentistry move along. While there is nothing wrong with the traditional dental compounds, the digital process is becoming more and more preferred. Dentists like it as it is more efficient, detailed and accurate. Patients prefer it as it is more comfortable and fewer visits are usually needed.

Many people fear the dentists, and this keeps them out of the office. With modern dental practices, this fear can be turned around. The dental world has made great improvements in just a couple of decades. People can now experience a pleasant dental appointment instead of fearing it. With new technology, like digital imaging, patient anxiety can decrease and dental care can increase.

For an appointment with skilled, compassionate dentists using modern dental technology, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. We are happy to take care of all of your dental needs and keep you comfortable!

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Osteoblasts & Osteocytes

Osteoblasts and Osteocytes – what do these two things have to do with dental braces and orthodontics? In fact, what even are osteoblasts and osteocytes?



Medicine.Net‘s definition of osteoblast is simply a cell that makes bone. It does so by producing a matrix that then becomes mineralized.



An osteocyte is the actual bone cell. This is formed from the secretion of the osteoblast.

According to Britannica, the relationship between these two is that osteocytes derive from osteoblasts and are essentially osteoblasts surrounded by the products they secrete. However, there is also another part of bone remodeling, and that is a protein called RANKL (receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand). Scientists are now learning the connection of all of these in bone and tooth remodeling.



Osteoblasts, Osteocytes, and Dental Braces

So what do these cells have to do with braces and orthodontics? We may just think that the braces themselves move the teeth around, but what they are really doing is restructuring the bone formation that controls where the teeth go. As mechanical force is applied to the teeth from dental braces, this stimulates the bone formation. This restructuring of bone can be manipulated to control how the teeth sit in the mouth. Basically, this is remodeling the bone to structure the teeth where they are wanted, and that is what orthodontics do.

Nature.com explains this process further:

Upon the application of orthodontic force, the mechanical force stimulates the cells within the periodontal tissue, leading to cellular responses that result in alveolar bone remodeling. Bone resorption occurs at the compression side of the alveolar bone, towards which the teeth are driven, whereas bone formation is induced in the opposite side (the tension side).

An article in bioengineer.com explains that not only is the movement of teeth desired in orthodontics, but once the teeth are aligned properly, the movement needs to be stopped. If the teeth continue to move, they’ll move out of position – hence, shifting. So it’s a balance of accelerating the tooth movement to get to the desired outcome, and then suppressing the movement so no more change takes place.

The protein, RANKL, is what regulates the osteoclasts, which in turn regulate the formation and movement of the bone. This controls the shifting of the teeth. So again, with mechanical force on the teeth, the protein can be accelerated or suppressed.

With the recent findings of the role of RANKL in tooth movement, dentists and orthodontists are learning that tooth alignment may also be controlled with pharmaceuticals to regulate RANKL. This could be a new and exciting breakthrough in orthodontics.



Tooth movement

We know that teeth continue to shift over time even for those who have had orthodontic care. Now that scientists know the how and why of the shifting, perhaps more can be done to suppress that shift. No one wants her perfect smile to change, especially after all of that time in braces. This could be a big breakthrough in orthodontics. However, it’s still important to wear your retainer!

Want more information? We’re here to help. Contact us.

Dentistry Is Changing, But Where Is It Going? A Look Ahead.

Modern dentistry is changing at an exciting rate. Between procedures, diagnostic tools, and dental practices themselves, this field is making great advances. Dentistry has come a long way over the decades and is still making its move forward. Let’s take a look at some of the advances and what is yet to come:


A look ahead

In 2012, a report was published with a look ahead to the future of dentistry. The publication, How will dentistry look in 2020 made some predictions and painted an outlook for the future. As that date comes closer, it’s interesting to see what has happened and what is yet to come. Here are some of the big predictions:

  • Dental health will continue to improve
  • No substitutes for implants will emerge in the coming years
  • Numbers of dental patients with co-morbidities (when a patient has more than one chronic condition) will increase
  • Patients will want to be better informed about their dental health and what their treatment options entail
  • Group practices will increase
  • More women will enter the field of dentistry
  • Implants will become more widely used
  • Procedures will be quicker
  • More will take place in the office rather than labs

Modern dentistry


What are we seeing now?

Between lasers, high tech X rays, and CAD and CAM technology, procedures are already quicker, less invasive and more comfortable. Many of the above predictions are proving to be true already.

X Rays  – With high tech digital x rays, the procedure itself is more comfortable to the patient. The image also goes directly to the dentist’s computer. No processing, no waiting, and results can be immediately seen. Radiation is reduced and images are easily compared.

Laser technology – New laser technology is being used to detect decay and cavities. This makes it easier for the dentist to either take care of decay immediately or watch it from visit to visit to see if it’s progressing and come up with the best treatment options.

CAD/CAM – CAD and CAM computer technology is a huge advance in crowns and molds. According to WebMD, with this technology, a crown can be made right in the office so there is no waiting between appointments while an outside lab creates a crown.

Veneers and Bonding – Thinner veneers and better bonding material also make a difference. Again, procedures can be less invasive with less tooth reshaping with these new agents. The materials are also stronger and longer lasting.  Shades and colors are also varied to help teeth look more natural. So not only can teeth that need work look more natural, but also the integrity of the tooth is kept more intact because procedures are less invasive.


Modern dentistry

Patient Care and Comfort

These new advances point to two important factors – better patient care and better patient comfort. Procedures are less invasive and longer lasting. They are also more comfortable to the patients producing less anxiety and fear of the dentist.

These advances in dentistry really are groundbreaking in the field of dental health. And because good dental health impacts the whole body, these advances can lead to better overall health. If you are searching for a dentist to provide the optimum care you want, look to Watkin Dental Associates for a caring, modern dentist to keep your mouth healthy request information.

Dentistry Is About to Enter the Age of Nanoparticles

Modern dental technology is taking off at a rapid pace. With huge advances, dental care is becoming better and more precise. This provides not only better oral health, but also better overall health to dental patients. One of the big advancements is in nanotechnology.


What is Nanotechnology?

The article Nanotechnology in Dentistry: Clinical Applications, Benefits, and Hazards defines nanotechnology as the study and application of particles whose molecular size lies in the range of 0 to 100 nanometers. One nanometer (nm) is one-billionth or 10 9 of a meter. Nanoparticles cannot be seen with the naked eye; they are much, much smaller than the width of human hair. Scientists and engineers are exploring exciting options with this new technology, from the medical and dental field to the materials and fabrics field.

Much work in nanotechnology is with carbon nanotubes (How Stuff Works). These are rolled sheets of carbon atoms. Depending on how the sheet is rolled, different properties are created. For instance, nanomaterial can be much stronger than steel while at the same time being much lighter. Nanoparticles can also be taken from the parent material. With more, smaller particles, the material exemplifies the characteristics of the parent material.

Sunscreen is one example of an everyday product with nanoparticles. Sunscreen used to rub on white, but now not so much. This is because many sunscreens now use nanoparticles of zinc oxide (what gave sunscreen its white color). But because the nanoparticles are so tiny, invisible to the naked eye, the sunscreen no longer goes on white.

Dental technology

Another type of nanotechnology is nanorobots. Nanorobots are beginning to be used in medicine and dentistry. Nanorobots are placed inside target tissues to respond to precise programs. In a similar vein, nano implantable devices are being used in various fields. The above article, Nanotechnology in Dentistry, describes some of these advancements as tissue regeneration materials, implantable devices, implant coating materials, bioresorbable materials, tissue replacement materials, and diagnostic and therapeutic aids.


How Does This Affect Dentistry?

Nanotechnology is entering the field of dentistry in some amazing ways. Some of the areas are:

  • Nanorobotic Local Anesthetics – This technology is making great advances in the area of anesthesia in dentistry. This improvement will be geared towards patient comfort and creating less anxiety. It also helps after the procedure to reverse the effects of the anesthesia.
  • Dentin Hypersensitivity – This technology helps decrease sensitivity in dental areas. Toothpaste with nanoparticles can decrease sensitivity in patients.
  • Dentifrobots – These nanorobots are created to clean residue in the mouth through mouthwash. They can also be deactivated if swallowed. They move at an intensely fast rate to keep the mouth clean.
  • Diagnostics – Nanotechnology is appearing in a number of diagnostics to detect cancer cells.
  • Nanomaterials – From restorative material to sealants to adhesives and composites, nanotechnology is making improvements with materials. These are stronger, smoother and better than past materials.

Some other areas where nanotechnology is making advances in modern dentistry are in orthodontics, tissue regeneration, and artificial teeth.

Dental technology



As with any new technology, concerns often come with it. One concern of nanotechnology in dentistry is how the particles will react with other parts of the body if it is absorbed. For instance, an article in Science discusses the benefits of plaque-fighting nanoparticles. They have been shown effective in cleaning the teeth by removing bacteria. However, concern exists that they may remove good bacteria in other parts of the body.


Dentistry is Entering the Nano Age

Whether these advances in dentistry begin to appear in the dentist office or in our toothpaste and mouthwash, we will be seeing this technology coming into play one way or another. With new discoveries and applications in nanotechnology, our world is on the way to see many advances, in dental technology and more.


Do I Really Need to Replace a Missing Tooth?

You have a missing tooth. Maybe it’s in the front and you know without a doubt you’ll replace it. But what if it’s in the back and you can’t visually see the difference? Does it need to be replaced? The answer is yes regardless of where the tooth is. Yes, dentists do recommend replacing a missing tooth for aesthetics. They also know the importance of tooth replacement because a missing tooth can cause serious problems with your overall oral health.


Missing tooth

What Happens If I don’t Replace My Missing Tooth?

You are opening your mouth to a whole list of oral health problems if you don’t replace a missing tooth. It may feel all right now, but over time, problems can arise.



You may notice yourself having trouble chewing on the side with the missing tooth or favoring it. You also may find yourself avoiding foods you enjoy because eating them is problematic. Things like steak, apples or chips may be difficult to eat with a missing tooth.

Missing teeth can also affect speech depending on where they are. Remember, teeth are there for many reasons. Missing a tooth or teeth can affect more than you think.


Jaw Alignment and Shifting Teeth

Without a tooth, your remaining teeth will shift to fill the gap. This will not only interfere with the spacing of your teeth but also impact your jaw alignment. According to Your Dental Health Resource, the patient with missing teeth is more at risk for developing a TMJ disorder if missing teeth aren’t replaced.

The more your teeth shift, the more crooked they will become and that may bother you. It can have an aesthetic impact, as well as a functional one.


Bone Loss

Bone loss or bone resorption will occur when there is a missing tooth. Because the tooth isn’t there to stimulate the root, the bone will start to resorb. This can lead to weakening and problems in supporting the other teeth. And it’s not hard to figure out what can result – more missing teeth.

With a missing tooth and bone loss, the shape of your face can also change. At the area of the loss, your face may look sunken in or misshapen. So even if your missing tooth is in the back, your aesthetics may still be compromised.


Missing toothReplacing Missing Teeth

The good new is that you don’t have to suffer from missing teeth. With the options of dental bridges and dental implants, you can have an artificial tooth that is practically as good as your own. Maybe even better.

Depending on where the tooth and is and how many teeth are missing, your dentist will recommend a bridge or implant. An implant mimics the actual tooth the best. However, if more teeth are missing or the bone is already compromised, your dentist may recommend a bridge. A bridge does not put as much as stress on the existing bone.

With advances in dental care and technology, both of these options are great. They will save not only your smile and self-confidence but also your overall oral health. So the answer is yes! You really do need to replace a missing tooth.