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.

6 Tips for Getting Over Fear of Dental Procedures

Woman having a dental procedure.

People rarely look forward to the dentist, even with the modern movement towards gentle family dentistry. Many have bad childhood memories of dental procedures that were not as advanced as they are now. Today, however, you can go to the dentist and leave your worries at home. Procedures are much more comfortable, and good dentists go to great lengths to ensure that their patients have a pleasant experience.

However, if you feel yourself getting anxious before an appointment, whether it’s for a routine dental cleaning or something more complex like dental implants, there are some things you can do to help yourself relax. Try some of these techniques:

  1. Bring your favorite music and plug in while you’re in the chair. You don’t need to have a conversation with the dentist during the procedure. Instead, you can listen to music or your favorite podcast.
  2. Many dentists now have TVs for patients to watch during procedures. Request your favorite channel. Home or cooking shows are great distractions!
  3. Bring a friend or family member with you. If you are worried, a family member or friend can take some of the pressure away. Even if they are sitting in the waiting room, you may feel better just knowing they’re there. They can drive you if you are really nervous.
  4. Talk to your dentist about your worries. You can come up with a signal, like raising your hand if you need a little break during the procedure. He may be able to adapt some things to make the procedure less stressful.
  5. Dental anxiety is not uncommon. Whether it’s from past experience or just a general thing, you don’t have to continue feeling anxious about the dentist.

  6. Practice deep breathing. It may sound silly if you’re not used to it, but yoga breathing truly can relax the body. You can practice beforehand and even on the way to the appointment. Here is a good overview of box breathing, which is an easy and effective technique to learn.
  7. If your anxiety is very bad, don’t be afraid to medicate. You can ask your dentist or your general practitioner for some medication to take that will help with your anxiety. Your dentist may also give you nitrous oxide before your procedure begins. This is a safe sedative that can make you more comfortable during your procedure.

Dental anxiety is not uncommon. Whether it’s from past experience or just a general thing, you don’t have to continue feeling anxious about the dentist.

Dental anxiety is not uncommon. Whether it’s from past experience or just a general thing, you don’t have to continue feeling anxious about the dentist. Our staff at Watkin Dental Associates take pride in making our patients feel at ease and relaxed. We are happy to speak with you about how we can make your dentist visits more comfortable. Please contact us with any questions and to learn how we can help you.

How Much Does Dental Insurance Help with the Cost of an Implant?

Person writing dental insurance on a piece of paper.

Dental implants are an investment. They are an investment in your health, your smile and your overall well-being. Though they can be expensive, the overall cost is worth it as an implant provides numerous benefits—including a healthier mouth, more confidence and a long-lasting, low care option for tooth replacement. If you are considering a dental implant and find the cost to be high, make sure you talk to your insurance provider and see what they can do to help.

Some dental insurance companies do not cover dental implants as they claim the procedure to be elective. But sometimes, according to, they will cover part of the procedure, like the crown or the tooth extraction itself, so it is definitely worth it to find out. Sometimes insurance companies may cover cost depending on the reason for the implant, for instance, if the tooth loss was due to an accident, they may be more likely to cover the cost of dental implant surgery.


Varying Costs

Because dental implant procedures have so many varying factors, like the reason for the implant, the extent of the work needing to be done and even the location of the dentist offices themselves, it is hard to price out a dental implant without a consultation with your family dentist or another specialist. The reason for the implant also comes into play with insurance; if there is no underlying reason for the implant and tooth extraction, usually insurance won’t pay. But if it is due to a health condition or accident, they might.

Dental companies themselves will vary on if and how much they pay, as will policies within certain companies. The best thing to do is to speak with your dental health insurance provider directly, or you can have your dentist office call and find out what the insurance coverage will be if any.

As important as it is to talk to friends, family or coworkers who have had this procedure done, this does not really help here because coverage varies so much between providers. You need to look into this one on your own.


Model of a large tooth.

It Can Make a Difference

Some patients who want a dental implant know for sure it’s what they’ll do, regardless of cost. Others need the financial help from dental insurance. Insurance coverage can make a big impact on the cost of the implant. Usually, implants run about $3,000 to $4,500, and for many people, that’s a hefty expense. Remember, though, implants last a lifetime and need very little upkeep, if any. It really is a one-time cost.

After checking with your insurance company, you can also speak to your dental specialist about a payment plan or other ways to help cover the cost.

If a dental implant is something you are considering, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. We can help with dental implants or any of your dental needs!

FAQ’s about the Cost of Dental Implants

Woman getting a dental implant.

You know that you need a dental implant. You’ve heard about the lifelong benefits, and you understand a bit about the procedure. You know it’s a great option for tooth replacement, but now you have some questions about the cost of a dental implant. The following should be able to answer some of these questions for you. Remember, you can always turn to your family dentist for any questions or concerns you may have.

Frequently asked questions regarding dental implants:

Dental implants seem to cost a lot, more than other options, are they worth it?

Dental implants may initially cost more than dentures or other options, but in the long run, they are worth it. They do not need to be replaced and last a lifetime. There is no special care or upkeep besides regular dental checkups and good hygiene. Implants look like and function as natural teeth.

Why is there not a set price for dental implants?

According to, dental implant cost has many factors, including geographical location, experience of the dentist and the type of implant used. Also, each procedure is highly personalized and can include more or less work. This all affects the cost.

I see a lot of ads for discount implants. Is this a good idea?

For some things, it makes a lot of sense to bargain shop. When it comes to your mouth, it is probably not the best idea. To ensure your implant is going to be successful, last, and look good, don’t just go visit a dentist office that touts a good price. If your dentist does not specialize in implants, ask for a recommendation for an accredited implant specialist. You can also use the American Academy of Implant Dentistry’s site to help locate a dentist in your area.

Can I just call a get a price quote?

A good dentist should set up a consultation appointment to give you a price. As mentioned, each case is different; be wary of a dentist who gives you a price without seeing you first.

What is the average range of the cost of a dental implant?

Gold dollar sign with a tooth. reports that the average single implant can range from $3,000 to $4,500 or more.

What if I don’t have that money upfront?

Don’t let the cost automatically deter you from getting dental work you may need. Often dentists will work with you on a payment plan, and if you have dental insurance, check with your company to see what they will cover. If you have a flex spending account, you can usually use it here.

The cost may seem high for a dental implant. However, in the long run, it will be worth it. Dental implants look and act like natural teeth, and require no special upkeep. Check with your dentist on financial plans.

At Watkin Dental Associates, we are happy to talk to you about dental implants and any other dental needs you may have, including financial concerns. Please contact us to speak with one of our expert staff members. We are happy to help!

Best Foods to Eat While Your Dental Implants Are Healing

Bowl of soup.Though dental implants are very effective and successful, the surgery itself is invasive. Each stage of implant surgery requires some rest and healing afterward, and even with gentle family dentistry, your mouth probably won’t feel great immediately following your surgery.

Your mouth may feel tender and swollen, and you may have some stitches at the site. The foods you eat will have an impact on your healing as well as your pain management. If you can, think ahead and have some good things ready to eat. Check with your family dentist; he or she probably has some great suggestions for what to eat after surgery.

Keep in mind these few things when you’re planning your menu post-surgery:

  • Eat soft foods
  • Stay away from foods with seeds
  • Try to maintain good nutrition
  • Stay hydrated with lots of water
  • Don’t skip meals


Here are some good ideas:

Ice cream and milkshakes – This is a time to let yourself be comforted, so it’s okay to have ice cream and milkshakes. The cold ice cream is a natural pain reliever.

Soups – Soups are a great comforting food—just make sure they aren’t too hot, which isn’t good for your mouth at this time. Pureed soups, like butternut squash or cream of chicken, are good options. Also make sure the ingredients in the soup, like noodles, vegetables or chicken, are soft.

Eggs – Eggs are a nutritious choice with lots of protein. Scrambled eggs are especially easy to eat.

Oatmeal or other soft cereals – Cereals have a lot of nutrition and will keep you full.

Applesauce or other pureed fruit – Sauces are warm and comforting; any pureed fruit is good, like pears, apples, peaches or bananas. Stay away from seeds at first, as they can become trapped in the surgical site.

Mashed potatoes or other vegetables – Get creative here; not only are mashed potatoes great, but so are mashed sweet potatoes, butternut or acorn squash, cauliflower or beans and peas.

Smoothies – These can be a stand-alone meal with some yogurt, fruits and whatever else you toss in. Like milkshakes and ice cream, the cold will be good for your mouth. Stay away from the berries, though, due to seeds.


White milkshake.

What to stay away from:

  • Hot foods – Things like tea, soup and eggs are all great choices, but let them cool a bit before eating.
  • Straws – Go strawless with your shakes and smoothies. Sucking puts pressure on your site and can cause some damage.
  • Hard or sticky foods – Avoid foods that require a lot of chewing or are sticky or hard.

Within a few days, you will be feeling much better, and the best news is that once your dental implants have healed, you can eat whatever you want!

Please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates for more information on dental implants or any other dental procedure. Our expert staff is here to help!

Teeth Whitening: Commonly Asked Questions

Having a straight, white smile is something many people strive to achieve in today’s society. This is especially true seeing as how 99.7% of adults responded to an AACD survey agreeing that a healthy smile is important for their social lives. Fortunately, you can have a pearly white smile if you talk to your family dentist about teeth whitening. But before you do, let’s take a look at a few frequently asked questions about this cosmetic dentistry procedure.

Is teeth whitening permanent? Unfortunately, teeth whitening is not a permanent solution. And how long teeth whitening lasts really depends on how often people expose their teeth to staining food and beverages. So if someone consumes a lot of food and drinks that lead to staining, they may see their whitening fade quicker. However, some people can wait about a year for a touch-up session. So overall, teeth whitening results may fade quicker for some people.

Can whitening damage teeth? Getting your teeth whitened is a completely safe procedure. Whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures and causes no harm to the teeth or gums. Even if someone has fillings or dental implants, the materials used during whitening will do no harm. However, it is important to note that things like implants, veneers, and bridges do not lighten during the whitening process. So if someone has dental restorations, they may need to work with their family dentist to replace dental work to match the new shade of white.

How can people maintain their whitened teeth? Once you have your teeth whitened, you’re going to want to do everything you can to keep them nice and bright. You can do this by avoiding products that can easily stain teeth, brush your teeth right after consuming stain-causing foods or drinks, and practice good oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash twice every day can do wonders with keeping your smile white.

Hopefully, this article answered some questions you may have had about teeth whitening. Getting your teeth whitened can give you the confidence you need to show off your pearly whites. So if you are interested in this life-changing procedure, talk to your family dentist today.

Is Cosmetic Dentistry an Option for Teenagers?

Group of teenagers smiling.

Teens are taking a more and more active approach with their appearance. Many are wondering what they can do now to enhance their smiles. While some cosmetic dental procedures are fine for teens, others should wait until they are older for the best outcome.


Common Cosmetic Dental Procedures for Teens

Orthodontics – This is probably the most common practice for teens. Orthodontics consist of braces, retainers and other tooth straightening appliances. These are common, safe procedures and can adjust teeth so they are straight with good alignment. If your child continues to wear a retainer, his or her teeth will stay straight for years to come.

Teeth Whitening – Many teens are concerned about the color of their teeth. A good idea is to start with a whitening toothpaste. Your family dentist can recommend a safe toothpaste for teens. Many professionals don’t recommend tooth whitening until your child is at least 14 years old. All the teeth must be fully developed to prevent uneven tones during tooth whitening. Also, by this time, the pulp in the teeth will be fully developed and less sensitive.

Veneers – Veneers are an option to correct a misaligned or discolored tooth. Though this is a fairly noninvasive procedure, your teen will need to replace the veneers at some point. If you are considering this, it is important that your teen’s teeth are completely developed or the risk of nerve damage is increased. This option needs to be fully discussed with your cosmetic dentist to see if it is a viable one for your teen.


Tips for Great Smiles During Teenage Years

Teenagers should really not need serious cosmetic dentistry procedures unless there are special circumstances to consider. Normally, teenage teeth are still in good condition, and with good care, can remain damage free. Here are some lifestyle tips for great smiles:

Toothbrush with toothpaste and floss.

  • Stay away from soda. The high sweetener content can cause tooth damage and decay. Limit sodas to special occasions or just every now and then.
  • Make healthy food choices. Help your teen make healthy food choices and try to limit sticky and sweet foods.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can not only wreak havoc on your smile but on your overall health. Discourage your teen from smoking.
  • Visit the dentist on a regular basis. A twice-yearly checkup and cleaning will help maintain a healthy mouth and catch any decay or damage before it gets too bad.
  • Maintain good dental care at home. This means brushing and flossing on a daily basis. Sometimes teens will forget to floss or not think it’s important, but keep reminding them it is. These habits will last a lifetime so help your teen establish good ones.

With good dental care, your teen may not need cosmetic dentistry beyond braces or perhaps tooth whitening. However, if you are considering some other options, please contact us at Watkin Dental Associates. Our professional staff can go over cosmetic procedures with you and help decide what is best for your teen.

How Many Appointments Do I Need for Dental Implants?

You’ve researched dentists in the area and are finally ready to move forward with dental implants.  While you might have the first dentist office appointment scheduled, there might still be some confusion about this process.

You know that this is not a one appointment procedure, but what really is the timeline of a dental implant from start to finish? Read on for a basic dental implant schedule and what to expect for the entire procedure.


From start to finish

A dental implant will take a few months to complete, even up to a year from the very first appointment to the last. Here is a common breakdown of the appointment schedule, including healing times:

Paper calendar with pencil and clock.
  • Consultation appointment – This is with the dentist who will be performing the procedure. It is a time to discuss the reason for the implant and the goals, the basic process and different options to reach your goal. Your dentist should answer any of your questions as he shares an overview of the process. You will also discuss temporary teeth while your mouth is healing, so you don’t have to go without a tooth.
  • First surgical appointment – This can come very shortly after your consultation, depending on the schedules of you and your dentist. At this appointment in the dentist’s office, small incisions will be made in the gums, and the dentist will surgically place the dental implant.
  • Healing time – You will need to wait around 4 – 6 months for the implant to fuse to the jawbone. This also gives the incision time to heal, though this doesn’t take very long.
  • Second appointment – At this appointment, the connector will be attached directly to the implant. This is what the restorative piece (the tooth) will be attached to later.
  • Healing time – You will need to wait usually around three weeks after the connector is placed for healing before the next appointment.
  • Third appointment – At this final appointment, the restorative piece is placed on the connector. It is now a permanent fixture in your mouth and should last a lifetime, acting just like a natural tooth.
  • Final check – Many dentists like to see you back in a few weeks to make sure everything looks and feels good. They may need to take out some stitches as well depending on what kind they used.


If you need a bone graft

Some people need some bone grafting done if there is a question of whether their jaw bone will be strong enough to support the implant. If this is the case, you may need an extra appointment and work before the implant is placed. This will extend the total time of the procedure. The condition of your jaw will dictate if you need a bone graft and how extensive the work will be (

Woman appearing surprised.


Worth the time

Though this procedure takes a long time from start to finish, dental implants have a very high success rate and can save the integrity of your mouth for lifelong health.

Speak to your dentist or call us at Watkin Dental Associates. We are here to help and make this experience a comfortable and positive one for you with a successful end result.