“I always loved art, biology and people,” Dr. Benjamin T. Watson, DDS, MAGD, says. “Working in dentistry seemed to put all three things together.”
While earning his Bachelor of Science degree in biology at the University of Richmond, Watson volunteered at the Veteran Administration’s dental clinic. His career in dentistry was borne. After earning his degree in dentistry from the Medical College of Virginia, he joined a friend in his Newport News practice and married Helene the same summer. In 1985, he set up his practice in Oyster Point. Three years later, his growing practice required a larger office at McCale Professional Park, where his office is located today. In 2014 – 2015, the practice joined Atlantic Dental Care, which today boasts approximately 125 dentists.
“I still run my own practice,” Watson says. “The affiliation with Atlantic Dental Care has helped in buying supplies and negotiating higher insurance reimbursements.”
Very early, Watson realized many patients were scared. Interested in alleviating their fear, in 2001, he began practicing oral conscious sedation using pills. The practice also uses The Wand, a computerized injection technique with a very fine needle barely felt by patients.
Watson says his long-term staff of seven is the key to his success, along with past employees. The practice performs surgical extractions in addition to routine dental care. He loves doing cosmetic dentistry, which ties into his love of art. He is also passionate about treating prevalent sleep apnea (known as a silent killer).
“Heart attacks and strokes may be in part due to sleep apnea,” he says. “In order to have an event, you stop breathing for 10-plus seconds.” Multiple, 10-second breathing cessation events deplete the oxygen getting to one’s organs, which will affect one’s overall health. Watson can fit a mild/moderate sleep apnea patient with a device to improve his or her sleep.
Watson’s practice, alongside 100-plus dental professionals, participates in community work with Atlantic Dental Care in the Mission of Mercy (MOM) project, providing free dental care to underserved people. His practice was awarded the Fellowship and Mastership awards by the Academy of General Dentistry, the first requiring many hours of continuing education and an extensive written test. The second entailed 600 additional hours of continuing education in specific aspects of dentistry. His practice received the Fellowship and Mastership awards from The Organization of Conscious Sedation, as well.
Dr. Watson’s practice shut down for two months during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There were tons of people who needed dental work,” he says. “They had infections and needed help with pain management they didn’t get.”
Long before the pandemic, dental professionals wore gloves and masks to minimize infection. Upon reopening, the practice put in UV lights, improved its ventilation system, added air purifiers; and fogged treatment rooms between patients.
“That changed the way we did dentistry,” he says. “We had to super size that effort.”
Watson is passionate about the connection between dentistry and the medical profession. For many years, the effects of dentistry on the body went unrecognized. “It was as if the head was disconnected from the body,” he says. “Now we know that oral health has a significant correlation to overall body health.”
Today, when a patient schedules heart surgery, Dr. Watson routinely receives letters from his or her cardiologist and surgeon checking that the patient has cleaned teeth and no dental infection. “People who have gum disease are more prone to certain cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” Watson says.
“Today, I see people I’ve treated for years bringing their families to us,” he says. “I measure success that way.”
Dr. Watson is a former runner who ran marathons and local races. Now he enjoys biking, hiking and being outdoors. “My son and I have done Old Rag Mountain,” he says, adding that he walks the Noland and other trails. He has completed about 400 scuba dives, the most exciting being a shark dive in the Bahamas. “If it has palm trees, sunshine and beaches, I love it,” Watson says of his favorite vacation locales.
“I will be adding my son to our practice in June and am greatly looking forward to it,” he says. “I think most dentists who have kids dream of going into practice with them.”
“Dr. Watson is caring, patient and easy to talk with,” patient Christine O’Brien, says. “He is trustworthy, talented and has a phenomenal staff.”
TO THE POINT:
Benjamin T. Watson, DDS, PLC – General and Cosmetic Dentistry
Address: 729 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. 7E, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Benjamin Watson, DDS, PLC