Harold Watkin was 30 when he started his dental career. He spent two years as an apprentice in general practice before qualifying from the Liverpool Dental School in 1918. He gained experience in orthodontic treatment and opened an orthodontic practice in 1930 in Liverpool, one of only three in the UK at the time.
Watkin was a keen inventor. He spent a lot of time in his workshop designing appliances and tools. His Watkin pliers were sold through the Dental Manufacturing Company. Watkin’s interest in fixed appliances led him to design his loop and tube appliance, an adaptation of Angle’s pin and tube appliance. The pin was replaced with a loop formed from the arch wire which was inserted into a box mounted on a band. Watkin’s design meant it was quicker and easier to remove, clean and adjust the arch wire and only required adjustment every six weeks rather than fortnightly appointments needed for Angle’s appliance.
The loop and tube appliance could be incorporated into Watkin’s free sliding arch. This consisted of a loop and tube appliance on the central teeth with the arch wire extending to the back of the mouth where it was either inserted into horizontal tubes mounted on molar bands or attached to the molar band, depending on what it was treating. This appliance could retract and rotate incisor teeth.
Watkin’s appliances required specific tools, which he also designed. His loop and tube pliers were designed to He also designed various tools including the Watkin pliers and the Watkin welder. The welder made the construction of appliances significantly easier and was a success for over 25 years.
Watkin was a lecturer in orthodontics to both Dental Schools of Liverpool and Manchester. He had an interest in the effects of soft tissues on developing dentition. He was a prominent member of the profession and maintained membership in many professional societies including the BSSO, of which he became President in 1933.