Dental Implants: A Step-By-Step Guide For Nervous Patients

dentistsAccording to an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry survey, over half of U.S. adults over the age of 50 agree that a smile is the main feature that remains the most attractive as people age. When someone has a poor smile or missing teeth, they can experience social anxiety or lowered self-esteem. Fortunately, today’s dentists have the ability to help those who are not happy with their smile. One of the most common ways a smile can be improved is by replacing missing or damaged teeth with dental implants. This article is going to provide an overview of the dental implant process.

To start the implant process, a family dentist will evaluate the patient’s current dental situation. This initial evaluation will allow them to determine if the patient is a good candidate for dental implants. During this consultation, the dentist will provide a detailed surgical guide for the patient and will answer any questions or concerns they have regarding the process.

When the decision to get dental implants is made, the next step is removing the current tooth. In the event the patient has a damaged or diseased tooth, this tooth must be extracted before the new tooth can be put in. After the extraction, the area must be given proper time to heal. The extent of the extraction will depend on the individual situation, but generally, it’s a fairly simple procedure.

After the extraction site has healed, it’s time to insert the implant. In order for an implant to be successful, the patient must have strong jaw bone and healthy gums surrounding the implant site. To actually insert the implant, the patient’s gums are cut open to expose the jawbone. Then, the implant is screwed into the jaw bone and the gums are stitched together over the implant. Again, there is a healing process after this surgical procedure.

Once the surgical area is healed, it’s time to attach the crown to the implant. This crown will serve as the patient’s new tooth. This part of the process is less invasive than the initial surgeries. Some dentists place the crown at the same time as the implant, but it’s up to the individual dentists to determine what the best option is for the individual patient.

The process of getting dental implants is not quick. With the extraction site needing to heal between each part of the procedure, patients usually spend months going through the dental implant process. However, the patient’s overall dental health, the number of teeth that are being replaced, and necessary extraction are all factors that impact the length of the dental implant process.

While the process may seem long, it has a huge payoff. Dental implants can relieve discomfort from damaged or diseased teeth and provide a boost in confidence. If you’re missing teeth or are experiencing discomfort from damaged teeth, talk to your dentist to see if you’d be a good candidate for dental implants.

Sinus Lift Surgery and Dental Implants

Dental implants
Sinus lift surgery allows the surgeon to place new bone in your upper jaw to support the dental implants.

If you’re considering dental implant surgery, one thing that your dentist will need to determine is whether or not you have enough bone to support the implants. If you don’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get implants, but it may mean that you will need another procedure first. In some cases, your dentist may tell you that you need a sinus lift. What is a sinus lift, and what does it have to do with dental implants? Take a look at what you need to know about sinus lift surgery and dental implants.


What is a Sinus Lift For?

When you want dental implants but don’t have enough bone in your upper jaw to support them, your dentist will need to add additional bone to your jaw. It will be placed between your jaw and your maxillary sinuses on either side of your nose. However, in order for this additional bone to fit, your surgeon will need to move the sinus membrane higher, creating the space needed for the additional bone.

Not everyone who gets dental implants needs a sinus lift. This procedure is only needed when there isn’t enough bone to support the implants. This is often the case for patients who have had missing teeth for some time, as the jaw bone needs stimulation from the teeth to maintain its mass, and patients who lose teeth are susceptible to bone loss. Patients who have had gum disease may also have suffered bone loss.


Where Will the Additional Bone Come From?

If you have suffered bone loss in your jaw and you need a sinus lift to add more bone, you may be wondering where the new bone will come from. There are several options. The bone may be taken from somewhere in your own body. It may come from elsewhere in your mouth, or your surgeon may take it from your hip or tibia. Other options include using bone from a cadaver, using bone from a cow, or using synthetic bone material like hydroxyapatite.


What Should I Expect?

Dental implants
After you’ve healed from your sinus lift surgery, your dental implant dentist can place your new teeth.

If your dentist thinks that you need a sinus lift, you’ll need X-rays and a CT scan so that the dentist can get a full picture of your jaw’s anatomy and ensure that your sinuses are healthy. If you suffer from seasonal sinus allergies, you may need to delay surgery until a time when your allergies are not active.

The sinus lift will need to be done somewhere between four and nine months before your dental implant placement. This time will allow you to heal thoroughly and give the new bone time to mesh with your existing bone. The more bone you need to have added, the longer you’ll need to wait. Your surgeon will prescribe medications for you to take following the surgery to prevent infection and alleviate discomfort. Although it can take several months for the new bone to integrate, you’ll probably be feeling better in just a few days.

If you’re considering dental implant surgery, it’s important to find out whether you will need an additional procedure like a sinus lift. Contact us to request information.

Can Children Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants
You may have heard about the benefits of dental implants for adults when they have a damaged or missing tooth. Implants are a great alternative to dentures for not only aesthetics but also overall oral health. But what about dental implants for kids and teenagers? What happens if they have a missing tooth due to injury, accident or decay?

Unfortunately, children under the age of 15 cannot get dental implants. Before that point, children’s jawbones are still growing, so placing an implant comes with added risks. A dental implant needs a lot of support from the jawbone, and until it’s fully developed, it can’t provide this support. Because girls reach full development sooner than boys, your family dentist may consider dental implants for girls after age 15 but wait for age 17 for boys.

It’s also worth noting that dental implants are a permanent solution, so many experts choose to wait before performing the procedure. However, it’s not too soon for you to go ahead and talk to your pediatric dentist about whether dental implants are an option when your child does reach the right age.


What can you do in the meantime?

Luckily, there are other options that will work for a child or teenager. First off, if the lost tooth is a baby tooth, you can simply wait for the permanent tooth to come in. Though your child may be without a tooth longer than expected, it’s not uncommon for kids of this age to have missing teeth, and it shouldn’t cause any issues, self-esteem or health-wise.

Another option is a partial denture. This may be a good option if a permanent tooth was lost, and it could hold your child over until he is old enough for a dental implant. It may not be ideal, but your child may feel it’s better than a missing tooth.

One other possibility is to affix an artificial tooth to braces. If your child is wearing braces or will be soon, this is a viable and stable option until he or she is old enough for an implant.


Do you have to replace a missing tooth?

If your child is missing a tooth, do you need to do anything? Yes, because it’s not healthy to have a missing tooth. Not only can it affect the delicate self-esteem of a teenager (because what teen would really be okay with a missing tooth?), but it also can impact oral health. The adjacent teeth are likely to shift into the open spot, and the health of your child’s jawbone could also suffer.

Dental implants

If your child is missing a tooth, contact us at Watkin Dental Associates to figure out the best option for replacement. We want to give you and your child the best treatment so you can maintain optimal dental health.

Which is Better for Me: Dentures or Dental Implants?

Dental implantsIt’s not that uncommon to have a missing tooth. In fact, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, nearly 70% of adults ages 35 to 44 years who live in the United States have at least one missing tooth. Okay, so missing teeth are not uncommon, but what can you do about them?


Dental Implants versus Dentures

Two popular options to consider are dental implants and dentures. In the past, dentures had a bad reputation, but denture quality has improved a lot over the years. They do have the possibility of slipping out of place or can promote infection or decay in neighboring teeth. Another option is dental implants, and if your jaws and teeth are healthy, this may be a good route.


Which Should I Get?

Dentures: If your jawbone is unable to support a dental implant, you may choose to get dentures instead. Though you can still have a bone graft to strengthen your jawbone, some people do not want a procedure that is this invasive. You also need healthy gums to support the implant.

Some medical conditions may make dental implants riskier for certain patients. If you are a smoker, dental implants might not be the best option. Smoking compromises the health of the mouth and gums, so there may be complications after surgery and a higher risk for infection.

If you have a condition that could affect the success of a dental implant, dentures may be the best option for you.

Dental implants

Implants: If you have a healthy mouth, teeth, and jawbone, you may be a good candidate for a dental implant procedure. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry lists some advantages of dental implants over dentures including:

  • Implants are the most natural looking replacement for missing teeth
  • Implants can help maintain the bone in the jaw
  • Implants won’t slip or click when eating, laughing or talking
  • Implants do not need to be removed for cleaning or soaking
  • Implants should last a lifetime

Implants are highly customized and can blend with your other teeth. They are permanent, so there’s no need to remove and clean them. The maintenance is practically the same as with your natural teeth: brush, floss and see your family dentist for regular care.

Your oral health can impact your overall health, so taking care of your mouth and teeth is essential. However, missing teeth are sometimes not preventable, despite your best efforts. If you are looking into tooth replacement options, talk with your dentist about the best option for you. A knowledgeable local dentist office can advise you on which replacement, dentures or dental implants, will suit you better.

Please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates for more information. We are experts in the field of dental implants and would be happy to help you.

6 Tips for Managing Anxiety over Dental Implants

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Not very many people enjoy dental work. But some people really struggle with and have severe anxiety about it. The problem here is that their anxiety can keep them from having necessary procedures done. For instance, if you are too nervous to get the dental implant the family dentist recommends, you could be compromising your overall health. Below are some tips to help ease your mind over the procedure.

1. Bring your earphones. If you can listen to some relaxing music, it may help with anxiety. One of the rough parts of any dental procedure is the sounds you may hear. Listening to music will help drown that out, so plan on bringing your headphones or earbuds to your dental implant procedure.

2. Relax. Sure, those with anxiety know that is much easier said than done, but here are some tips that might help:

  • Focus on your breathing – Take deep, rhymic breaths.
  • Focus your mind on something positive.
  • Keep the result in mind – bright smile, healthy mouth.

3. Prepare. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the procedure. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the appointment. Rushing can make even the calmest people anxious. Control what you can.

4. Talk to yourself. recognizes dental fears and advises the anxious patient to talk to him or herself. Of course, you can give yourself a pep talk in the car out loud, but you can do this all in your head, too.

  • Tell yourself you’re doing the right thing for your health and it will be ok.
  • Congratulate yourself for going through with it.
  • Remind yourself you are going to this professional because you trust them and know they will do a great job.
  • Use your imagination and play word games or relive your favorite book or movie, or just redirect yourself to “your happy place.”

5. Talk to your dentist. Let your dentist know your worries; be honest even if you feel embarrassed. She can be more conscientious with your care and take things slower if needed, communicating with you throughout the procedure. You can discuss the option of medication beforehand if you are really nervous. suggests agreeing on a signal with your dentist if you need a break.

6. Have faith in your dentist. You should be going to a trustworthy, gentle dentist in the first place. Trust that your dentist will take good care of you. Watkin Dental Associates is known for its empathetic, compassionate care. The expert staff also makes this procedure as comfortable and easy as possible for our patients. We are open to discussing the procedure along with any anxiety you may have, and we will get you through it. If you need to find a dentist, please contact us.

What Types of Pain Medication Will Be Used Before, During, and After a Dental Implant?

Dental implantsIf you are preparing yourself for a dental implant procedure, you may be wondering what types of pain medication the dentist will use. It’s good to think about because this procedure does require pain medication during and after, sometimes even before to make sure you stay comfortable. While there may be some pain associated with this surgery, as with any other, it’s important to keep in mind that the result is worth it. Here’s what you can expect:


Before the Dental Implant Procedure

Though you really shouldn’t need pain medication before your dental implant procedure,  talk to your dentist if you are feeling very anxious about what is coming. If needed, he or she can prescribe an oral sedative to help with your anxiety. This is also an option for people who are uncomfortable with the drilling noise or the pressure exerted during the procedure. There are a variety of medications to help here, so discuss your options with your dentist. Remember, you can always bring or ask for headphones as well to help muffle any noises that may make you nervous or uncomfortable.


During the Dental Implant Procedure

If you are familiar with dental anesthesia, this is the same thing your dentist will be using during your implant procedure. The anesthesia prevents pain in specific areas of the mouth by blocking the nerves that transmit pain. You shouldn’t feel anything but some pressure. Most gentle family dentistry practices also use a topical numbing solution before injecting the local anesthesia.

You may also be given some nitrous oxide mixture, also known as laughing gas, beforehand as well. The nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and is administered through a mask so the patient breathes it in for the duration of the procedure.

Conscious sedation is also an alternative means of controlling pain during a dental implant procedure. It is different than general anesthesia as you remain alert throughout the treatment, but you are in a semiconscious state and won’t remember much. Usually, this is not necessary for dental implants, but can be an option worth discussing with your family dentist if you are concerned.


After the Dental Implant Procedure

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It’s important to follow your dentist’s guidelines on medication after the procedure to provide maximum relief. If you can take your medication before the anesthesia wears off, you won’t experience much pain. Many dentists will prescribe a pain medication, but patients are often fine with over the counter pain relievers instead.


Talk to your Dentist

If you are concerned about medications or pain management associated with a dental implant procedure, please talk to your dentist. You can call us at Watkin Dental Associates and we would be happy to address your concerns. Our expert staff consistently practices compassionate, gentle dentistry and we make this procedure as pain free as possible.

5 Tips for Having a Great Smile for Photos

dentistsWe all want to look and feel our best, but we also know that sensation of feeling less than confident. We don’t want to go out, we don’t want anyone to see us, we don’t even want to see ourselves.

Something that people are very commonly self-conscious about is their smile. The belief that a good looking smile can make someone more attractive to the opposite sex is shared by 96% of adults. So it’s safe to say that the majority of people really care about their smile.

Photos are one of the most common situations that we flash our smile in. When getting a photo taken, we all want to have a great looking smile. Here are some tips — that dentists would agree with — from WebMD to having a picture perfect smile every time.

Be Natural
A gentle, relaxed smile looks much more realistic than a seemingly excited, forced smile. When you smile so hard that you’re squinting and your neck muscles tense, the photo comes out looking very awkward. Keep it natural for the best-looking smile.

If you have a double chin every time you smile for a picture, then your posture is all wrong. Standing up straight can fix this issue. WebMD also suggests not being completely square with the camera for the best results.

Mirror Check
Before you get in the group photo, you have to make sure your smile is camera ready. Pull out your pocket mirror or take a quick trip to the bathroom to make sure your teeth and gums are free from any food or stains from what you’ve eaten that day.

You’re going to need to spend a little more time in front of the mirror if you aren’t currently pleased with the way your smile looks. Especially if you have a big photo event coming up like a wedding or graduation, practice smiling in front of the mirror to get your best poses and angles down.

The best way to always have the cleanest teeth is to take regular trips to your family dentist. Visiting a family dental facility on a regular basis will not only keep your mouth free of cavities and other bacteria, but it can give you a nice clean smile. If you are unhappy with your teeth, cosmetic dentistry is always an option for teeth whitening, straightening, and other cosmetic desires. Dentists are the best place to go for all of your oral needs.

If you are looking to have the best smile in all the photos, remember to be natural, stand up straight, check the mirror, and make friends with dentists!

Answering 5 FAQs About Dental Implants

Dental implants
When your family dentist tells you that you need a dental implant, your head may begin to fill with questions. Dental implants are becoming more and more common and have very successful results. If your dentist thinks you are a good candidate, take a look at these FAQs for more information about the procedure.


Who makes a good candidate for a dental implant?

According to, dentists will consider the following factors when deciding if you’re a good candidate:

  • Gum health- Your gums should be healthy.
  • Jawbone structure -The implant will be anchored in your jawbone, so it needs to be strong enough to support the implant. Dentists can also build up the jawbone.
  • Smoking – Heavy smoking can decrease the likelihood of a successful implant.
  • Overall health – Some medical conditions will dictate that dental implants are not the best choice. Discuss health conditions with your dentist.

If you are in good health and will make a commitment to caring for your implant, you’re likely a good candidate for the procedure.


Will a dental implant look like a natural tooth?

Yes! With many color and size options, the dentist can match your new dental implant tooth to the color and shape of your other teeth. No one should be able to tell that your dental implant is not a natural tooth.


Will the procedure hurt?

Though there may be some pain or discomfort involved, your dentist should provide medication to keep you comfortable after the procedure. With proper anesthesia and/or sedation, the procedure itself will not be painful. You may experience some soreness afterward, but pain medication can help.

Talk to your dentist about your options for pain management. Some dentists will even prescribe something beforehand if you are feeling anxious about the procedure.


Family dentist

How will I take care of my dental implant? recommends caring for your implant similar to how you care for your natural teeth. That includes brushing twice a day and carefully cleaning around the gumline. You’ll need to floss that area daily as well. Your dentist may recommend an antimicrobial mouth rinse. When you go for your dental cleanings, your dental implant may require a little extra care than your natural teeth. Maintaining your twice yearly visits to the dentist is important.


What are some advantages of implants?

Implants are a great long-term option for replacing damaged teeth. They will maintain the integrity of your mouth and prevent your other teeth from shifting. They look natural and are easy to care for. Dental implants also are supported through the jaw, so they don’t rely on other teeth for support. A good implant should last a lifetime.

Please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates for more information on dental implants. We can take care of your needs in a gentle, expert manner. Our highly skilled dental team will ensure that if this is the right procedure for you that you will receive optimum care with us. Our state of the art techniques and compassionate care will take you through this procedure with a successful result.

Advantages, Risks and Costs of Dental Implants

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When your dentist tells you it’s time for a dental implant, you may have some concerns. Fortunately, dental implants are becoming more common procedures and can make a big, positive difference in your dental health. They can replace missing or damaged teeth and keep the integrity of your dental health.

Though it can be a more invasive procedure than some other types of dental work, dental implants have some significant advantages. Let’s take a look.


Advantages of Dental Implants:

  • Dental implants are the best long-term and cost-effective procedure. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, dental implants are built to last and with proper care and good placement by your family dentist or implant specialist, they will be with you for a lifetime.
  • Dental implants are the closest thing to your natural teeth. Perhaps you lost a tooth to injury or maybe your tooth needs to come out due to excessive decay. Either way, an implant will look, feel, fit and function very close to your natural tooth.
  • Dental implants maintain the integrity of your mouth. They keep your bone structure and other teeth in line. Because they are fused into your jawbone, you won’t experience bone loss or other changes in your face shape or teeth.
  • Dental implants will not decay. Though you still need to care for implants by brushing and flossing, visiting your dental office, and maintaining healthy gums around it, there is no risk of decay.

Dental implants


Risks of Dental Implants:

Despite all of the advantages, there is always some risk when it comes to any procedure, including dental implants.

  • Dental implants can be painful. With any dental procedure, you are at risk for some pain. If your dentist handles your pain well during the procedure with anesthesia and medication, the pain will be minimal. Also, make sure to take any pain medication after the procedure to prevent pain, soreness and swelling.
  • If you smoke or have other medical conditions, you may be more at risk for complications. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, some of these risks may be damage to other teeth, tooth roots, sinus problems; fractures; nerve damage that can result in pain, numbness or tingling; inability to complete the procedure due to inadequate jawbone; and implant failure.
  • Despite these risks, dental implants are a very successful procedure and with an expert in dental implants, you will recovery nicely.


Cost of Dental Implants 

Like any other procedure, the cost of dental implants will vary from patient to patient. The average range is around $3,000 t0 $4,500, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Remember, this procedure should last a lifetime, so though the cost may seem high up front, you won’t have any further costs at a later time. Speak with your provider about insurance costs as plans vary from person to person and providers. Sometimes insurance will cover part of the procedure.

Watkin Dental Associates is an expert in the field of dental implants. Please contact us for more information about this procedure. We’d love to help!

Will I Need a Bone Graft for My Dental Implant?

Dental implants
You and your dentist have decided that a dental implant is the best tooth replacement option for you. You’ve learned about what a dental implant is and what to expect from the procedure. Now, however, you are hearing that you may need a bone graft, and you’re wondering if that will apply to you.


Why bone grafts for dental implants?

The jaw bone needs to support the new “tooth root”, a metal cylinder placed into the jaw bone. In the cases where some extra support is needed, sometimes a bone graft is necessary. Some people have jawbones that are ready to support dental implants; they are strong enough. But others have thinner or weaker jawbones and need additional support. This is where a graft comes into play.

If you require a bone graft, you’ll need some extra time healing time with your implant procedure because there is an added step. According to, the surgeon will take a section of bone from another part of your body or use bone grafting material and graft that into your jawbone. It will take a few months for the graft to make newer, stronger bone in your jaw that can support your dental implant.

Sometimes the bone graft can be done at the same time as the implant surgery if it’s very minor, but usually, that extra appointment and time are needed. Once the graft is healed and completed, you can move onto the next step.


Aftercare for bone grafting procedures

This is an integral part of the entire procedure and with good healing and fusion here, your implant will be more successful. While the bone is accepting the graft, it’s important you follow your dentist’s instructions on healing. Here are some tips to help make your bone graft heal faster and more comfortably:

  • Avoid rinsing your mouth vigorously and do not touch the site.
  • Take any prescribed or over the counter pain medication that your dentist recommends. It’s best to take the medication before the pain sets in.
  • The day after surgery, take the day off and restrict your activities.
  • Be careful when changing positions as you may experience some dizziness.
  • Use ice to help with swelling.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of fluids but don’t use straws.
  • Most of all, follow your dentist’s instructions for the best outcome.

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As with any dental procedure, you may experience some pain and discomfort, but your dentist will be able to help you feel comfortable. With modern technology and medication, your pain and discomfort should be minimal. Follow the aftercare guidelines your dentist provides.

With the success of dental implants, a bone graft is just a part of achieving the desired outcome. A dental implant will help the replacement tooth function just like a natural tooth, and the bone graft will add to this success and support. Your family dentistry practice will help you along in this procedure.

Please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates for more information on dental implant procedures. We are happy to help!