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.

Mouthhealthy.org 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 Mouthhealthy.org, 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

Educating elementary school children on the importance of good home care in the prevention of tooth decay

As part of her Masters in Public Health MPH Elizabeth Nfor decided to travel to Cameroon Africa. She donated supplies and taught the children about good oral hygiene

Over the past decade tooth decay has been a public health concern, in adults and children alike. Although much has been done to curb this problem worldwide, a lot still needs to be done.  Being an oral health professional I thought I could be a part of the intervention team by coming up with a project that would involve educating children in elementary schools on the importance of their oral health, the effects of poor oral hygiene and how to maintain a good oral hygiene, in order to prevent disease. I believe that if these children would understand these things they would want to maintain a good oral hygiene, and this has been proven by many different studies and also by a health behaviour theory known as the Health Belief Model( HBM).

Two years ago I went to visit my family in Cameroon and decided to take some oral hygiene supplies with me, and I visited an elementary school in one of the rural areas and an orphanage where my family and I gave out about 500 tooth brushes and other supplies to children after educating them on how to, when to, and how often they should brush and floss. This motivated me to come up with an actual program when I had to do my practicum for my Public Health Practice (PHP)- MPH/Global Health degree.  This time I had donations of over 500 tooth brushes, toothpaste, flosses, etc. and Watkin dental in both of my ventures had been of great support.

For my project, I went to a rural area in the central region of Cameroon, West Africa, for three weeks, where I actually had hours allocated for me to educate  the children in two elementary schools. I taught these children the importance of their oral health with respect to their overall health, Effects of poor oral hygiene (with tooth decay as the main focus), and also how to maintain a good oral hygiene. During this time the children learned, by watching videos and slide shows on how their oral health affects the rest of their body systems, what causes tooth decay, and how it occurs, and finally how to brush and floss properly to prevent oral infections especially tooth decay. We had many demonstrations done in class, and in the last week of the program the children brushed and flossed their teeth. We used disclosing solution that the children rinsed with and were able to tell the spots they missed( fun).  By the end of the program, the children were able to properly brush and floss their teeth.

Many of these children had a lot of oral health concerns that they could not get help for because of the lack of access to the care they would need, and also because neither them or their parents are aware of what is happening in their mouth, all they know is they are having some pain which hopefully might subside some day – in the case of decay. I saw many heart-breaking oral conditions that caused me to start thinking my next project would be raising funds and going a little further than educating these children but also locating the closest dental service available and paying for these children to have their oral health needs met.

6 Questions to Ask the Dentist Before a Procedure

Dental implants.You have your dental procedure on the calendar, and the day is approaching. Whether you have a had a consultation or not, you may have a few questions to ask. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to ask because, well, we only know what we know. However, the more you know about your procedure, whether you’re getting your teeth whitened or dental implants, the easier it will be.

Here are some important questions to ask your practitioner, from family dentists to the top cosmetic dentists.

 

How will my smile look when this is finished?

Some dentists have capabilities to show you a close rendition of how your smile should look when the procedure is finished. You can also ask for before and after pictures of other patients to get an idea of how your finished smile will look.

 

Will I need sedation or anesthesia? 

Some procedures are simple, like tooth whitening. Others are a bit more invasive, like dental implants, and may require sedation. Knowing this beforehand can help you mentally prepare if you tend to get nervous.

 

How will I pay? 

No one wants a surprise bill when leaving the dentist’s office. Find out beforehand if insurance will cover part of your costs or if your dentist’s office can do financing. Sometimes you need to pay in full on the day off, so if this is the case, make sure you have what you need for payment. It will make leaving the office easier, and you may want to get home and rest after your procedure and not mess with financial issues.

 

What time frame am I looking at? 

This can be a two-part question. Find out how long the appointment itself will take and if when you leave are you good for the day or do you need to take it easy? You should also ask about any follow-up appointments or what the next step is in your procedure. This helps in planning.

Woman getting dental work done.

 

Do I need medication? 

If your dentist is going to prescribe a painkiller or antibiotic (or something else), see if you can get it filled before your appointment. That way, you’ll have it ready, and if you don’t feel your best, you don’t have to worry about getting to the pharmacy.

 

Is this my best option? 

This is a great question and a very important one. Sometimes there is only one option, sometimes your dentist may just give you one option. Find out if there is an alternative and what the best thing is for you.

When you are at the dentist, ask away. Remember: This is your mouth, your health, your smile, and your wallet. The more information you can arm yourself with, the better your overall experience will be. You should be able to trust your dentist to provide these answers.

If you have any questions about dental work, contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. We are always available to answer your questions.

3 Simple Tips for Choosing the Right Cosmetic Dentist

Our teeth don’t just allow us to chew our favorite foods — our smiles often make up a big part of how we feel about ourselves. And according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, over half of the adult U.S. population over the age of 50 feels like a smile is the main physical feature that remains the most attractive as people age. So if you’re not feeling so great about your smile, it’s important to get it fixed. Fortunately, this is where cosmetic dentistry comes in. If you’re considering a cosmetic dental procedure, consider these few tips to help you choose the right dentist.

Start with references: One of the best and easiest places to start is by asking your friends and family about their experiences with cosmetic dentists. If you know someone who has recently had a cosmetic procedure done, start by asking what kind of procedure they had done, how they liked their dentist, and how the overall care and treatment was. You can also check out reviews online to get a larger sample of referrals. All in all, talking with people you know about their experiences can help lead you in the right direction for your future experience with cosmetic dentistry.

Consider their services: Cosmetic dentistry can involve many procedures — from simple whitening services to more complex procedures like dental implants, it’s important to find a family dentist who can offer the services you need. A great tip to consider when comparing dentists is to ask to see before and after pictures of their work. No matter what the procedure is, seeing real results is an easy way to decide if you feel comfortable with the cosmetic dentist‘s work or not.

Go with your gut: The most important thing to remember when choosing a cosmetic dentist is to follow your instincts. Getting dental work done is not something that should be taken lightly. So if something feels off or you don’t like the way you’re being treated, then trust your gut and choose someone else. When you get a cosmetic dental procedure, you want to feel completely comfortable and safe — so if you don’t feel like you’re in good hands, then make sure you listen to that feeling.

Choosing a dentist is an important first step to getting that beautiful smile you deserve. So keep these simple tips in mind and you’re sure to find the right dentist for your cosmetic procedure in no time.