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NuCalm: Drug-Free Treatment for Dental Anxiety

dental anxietyDental appointments are rarely anyone’s favorite activity. Letting another person poke around in your mouth just feels wrong; the light is too bright; it gets a bit boring lying back in the chair; and there’s always the chance you might get bad news. But we stand up straight, lift our head, and go to our appointments anyway, because we know it’s the best way to preserve the health of our teeth.

For the millions of Americans with dental anxiety, however, there’s a lot more to the story. Dental anxiety and phobias can prevent even the toughest personalities from getting the care they need. For these patients, no amount of bravery or coaching is enough, because their reaction to dental situations is not something they can control. They may experience irrational panic and dread so severe that it starts before they even get to the dental office.

Do you know someone who has avoided the dentist due to dental anxiety? Read on to learn how Vancouver, WA dental office Creative Smiles can help you have a more comfortable dental appointment, with or without medication.

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

Dental phobias may have their roots in bad memories from the past, fear of pain, fear of needles, or an instinctive response to the sounds, sights, and smells of a dental office. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what the cause is, because most patients respond favorably to a two-fold approach to combat dental anxiety.

  1. Establish a trusting relationship with the dentist and staff, so you can communicate your fears and feelings, knowing the dentist will respect your wishes.
  2. Use mildly sedating medications to induce a more relaxed state of mind.

For many patients, a dose or two of an oral sedative is enough to give patients a worry-free, non-triggered dental appointment. Mild anti-anxiety medications do not induce unconsciousness, but simply take the edge off, and allow the patient to relax. Oral sedatives can safely be used in conjunction with nitrous oxide gas, to help patients tune out their anxiety and stay calm.

Medication-Free Sedation?

Dental sedation can “work miracles” for many anxious patients—but it’s not always the answer. Some patients cannot take sedatives for medical reasons, and some people react badly to sedatives; in some cases, the medication may actually increase anxiety because they feel like they are relinquishing control. For patients who cannot take oral sedatives, we are proud to offer a medication-free option.

NuCalm is an all-natural, patented process for inducing a state of deep relaxation. It uses a combination of sensory blocking tools (earphones and eye mask), calming music, and an FDA-approved cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) device. This device gently stimulates your brainwaves to bring you into an alpha and theta wave state, which occur naturally when you are calm and relaxed. Ordinarily, you would experience your appointment in a beta wave state of alert wakefulness. Click here to read more about brain waves.

NuCalm has been used safely on more than 250,000 patients, and 98 percent report positive experiences. It does not interfere with your brain function, but is simply a way to “hack” yourself into a state of calmness without the use of medication. You can read more about NuCalm on their website; in addition to its application in dental situations, NuCalm is also used as a stress-relief system, and a performance enhancing tool.

If you are averse to the idea of taking drugs, or simply want to be able to drive yourself home after your appointment, ask Dr. Carl Futenma about NuCalm for your next appointment.

If you experience dental anxiety, contact our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 to schedule a consultation. We will meet with to discuss treatment options and help you decide if you want to try NuCalm or oral sedation to get the care you need.

Thinking About Orthodontics? Six Month Smiles May Be Right for You

Vancouver WA orthodonticsOrthodontic treatments are an excellent way to improve your appearance and help ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy and strong for a lifetime. If you are considering orthodontics, it’s important to know there are many benefits to realigning your smile. The most notable benefit will be the feeling of having a beautiful, symmetrical smile to share with the world, but there are also several health benefits to straightening your teeth.

Vancouver, WA dentist Dr. Carl Futenma provides Six Month Smiles orthodontic treatment to help his patients achieve the confidence that comes with a smile that is as beautiful as it is healthy. Call us at 360-574-3061 to learn more about Six Month Smiles.

For a Beautiful and Healthy Smile

Misaligned teeth negatively affect the appearance of your smile, but they can also lead to oral health problems. For example, when teeth are crowded and overlap, they may be harder to keep clean and therefore put you at a disadvantage when it comes to preventing cavities and gum disease. Furthermore, a poorly aligned bite can weaken and wear down teeth and lead to jaw problems later in life, such bruxism and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

Health benefits of orthodontics include:

  • Teeth that are easier to clean
  • Improved jaw function
  • Increased chewing efficiency
  • Long term health of the gum tissue

In addition to improving your appearance and self-confidence, straightening your teeth with orthodontics will give you the peace of mind that you are taking every possible step to maintain the long-term health of your teeth and gums.

Six Month Smiles

The most well-known orthodontic treatment is bracket-and-wire braces. This dependable system is based on the principle that teeth can be shifted into new positions when gentle, constant pressure is applied. Brackets are permanently affixed to the teeth, and wires are threaded through the brackets to apply carefully controlled pressure. Small alignment changes will be enacted by tightening the wires during monthly visits to our office. Over time, teeth are shifted into more healthy and aesthetic positions: a beautifully balanced smile!

With Six Month Smiles, orthodontic treatment is faster than ever. Typically, braces take approximately 24 months, but with this system a new smile can be complete in just six months. That’s faster than even clear aligner systems, such as Invisalign. It is also less noticeable than standard braces; with tooth colored brackets and wires,  there is no stainless steel to distract from the beauty of your smile during treatment.

Your Consultation with Dr. Futenma

If you would like to learn more about orthodontic treatment for correcting your smile, Dr. Futenma will meet with you for a consultation, during which he will (1) conduct an examination, (2) explain your unique alignment concerns, (2) determine whether Six Month Smiles is right for you.

Using x-rays and the most up-to-date digital imaging technology, we will carefully assess your teeth and provide a complete clinical diagnosis and written summary of your alignment concerns. You will see a detailed treatment plan that outlines the proposed treatment, goals, and estimated fees.

The Time Has Never Been Better!

Orthodontic treatments have been around for many decades, but recent advances in technology, materials, and digital imaging provide patients with better options than ever before. Modern orthodontic treatments like Six Month Smiles can better target your unique alignment issues and provide more conservative, faster corrections than those of the past.

Visit our Vancouver, WA office to learn more about what modern orthodontics can do for you. Whether you are considering braces for you child, teen, or yourself, we will help you understand the benefits and details of the process. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Futenma, call our office at (360) 574-3061 or contact us online anytime.

When Should I Start Thinking About Wisdom Teeth Removal?

wisdom teeth removal
If you have children, you may be wondering what you should know about wisdom teeth removal. Do wisdom teeth have to come out? When is the best time to have them removed? Are there any health benefits to keeping one’s wisdom teeth?

At Creative Smiles, Dr. Carl Futenma can answer all your questions and help you determine the right timing for wisdom teeth removal—if it is, indeed, necessary for your child. Call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 for a consultation at Creative Smiles.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the very last adult teeth to cut through the gums. Also called the third molars, these teeth erupt during a teenager’s transition to early adulthood, hence the name.

Wisdom teeth have become mostly unnecessary for food consumption in the past two thousand years; few humans eat great quantities of unprocessed grains and fibrous vegetables any more. Over time, the human jaw seems to be getting smaller, as well, and more and more people are born without some of their wisdom teeth.

Why are wisdom teeth extracted?

Many people choose to have wisdom teeth removed before they erupt to prevent crowding and misalignment, and to promote good oral health. If your teeth have been carefully aligned by orthodontic treatments, keeping your wisdom teeth may send them into a state of misalignment again. Additionally, wisdom teeth that try to erupt into an already-crowded mouth may become painfully impacted.

It is not absolutely necessary to remove wisdom teeth, but many people elect to have them removed to prevent problems in the future. For example, some patients are told they have “plenty of room” for their wisdom teeth, and that they don’t need to have them removed. Often those same patients will have them extracted later in life, after they have developed deep cavities or suffered deep cracks and breaks that lead to infection. The truth is that wisdom teeth’s extreme location in the back of the mouth makes them very hard to keep clean.

Should everyone have their wisdom teeth removed?

Dr. Futenma assesses each case individually, recommending removal in cases in which future oral health may be complicated by their presence.

Ideally, we will monitor a child’s development over several years and can watch the wisdom teeth when they form, assess their position, and determine when to remove them, if needed. This is one of the reasons why we take regular dental x-rays throughout the teenage years.

When is the best time for extraction?

Since every mouth is different, the ideal age for extracting wisdom teeth will vary. The best time is when the teeth’s roots are 50-70 percent developed. This allows us to remove the teeth quickly and reduce the risk of complications.

This milestone usually occurs between the ages of 15-19 years. Sometimes we see wisdom tooth roots develop at a younger age, which is why we like to monitor tooth development throughout childhood. If your child is receiving routine dental health check-ups, we will check the development of wisdom teeth on every dental x-ray and intraoral scan.

If you are thinking about wisdom teeth removal for your teenager, call Creative Smiles for a consultation with Dr. Carl Futenma. We will help you understand your child’s unique anatomy, so you can make an informed decision about wisdom teeth removal.

Call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 for a consultation at Creative Smiles.



Preventive Visits Keep Your Family’s Smiles Healthy

family dentistryAs the expression goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Nowhere is this saying more true than in dentistry. It’s much easier to prevent cavities than to treat them–and much cheaper, too. If you fit into the category of people who only go to the family dentist when you have a toothache, get ready for a big dose of truth: there’s a better way!

We know no one looks forward to dental appointments, but the reality is that regular six-month visits to your dentist are the single most important thing you can do (beyond daily brushing and flossing) to prevent cavities and gum disease.

Do you need a family dentist in Vancouver, WA? Creative Smiles provides excellent quality dental care to keep your family’s smiles healthy and strong. Contact us at 360-574-3061 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Carl Futenma.

What Happens During a Preventive Visit?

Six-month preventive visits serve two main purposes. They give us the opportunity to (1) examine your teeth for problems, and (2) deliver a professional teeth cleaning. When signs of decay are caught early, this allows our staff to provide treatments that can actually prevent a cavity from developing. If cavities are already present, we can provide fillings to prevent the kind of deep decay that leads to complex restorations.

There are many goals to preventive visits:

  • Remove tartar from tooth enamel
  • Clean and polish teeth
  • Answer questions about oral health and hygiene
  • Examine teeth and take x-rays
  • Check for cavities and spots of demineralization
  • Apply fluoride gel and sealants to prevent cavities
  • Check gum tissue for signs of gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease)
  • Discuss overall medical health issues that may affect your oral health
  • Oral cancer screening

As with any dental procedure, preventive visits can be performed with the assistance of sedation. If a member of your family experiences dental anxiety, ask about our sedation options when you book the appointment.

Why Prevention is So Important

Most Americans will experience some level of tooth decay in their lifetime. Even those of us who are vigilant about our daily oral hygiene can develop cavities. Why? Mouth bacteria are miniscule, and any amount of tartar build-up can lead to a cavity if not removed with dental tools. Once a cavity has started there’s nothing your body can do to heal it. Only your dentist and dental staff can halt tooth decay and keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Why You Need Professional Teeth Cleanings

You may love how white and shiny your teeth look after a dental cleaning, but appearance is the least important benefit of a dental cleaning.

When you eat and drink, small amounts of food residue stick to the teeth and invite bacteria to feast on them. As bacteria consume, they excrete acids that can demineralize tooth enamel. Bacteria and food residue form a biofilm called plaque. If not removed by brushing and flossing, plaque can harden into calculus (tartar), which is not soluble and can only be removed with dental instruments. At your dental cleanings, we remove small spots of tartar that would otherwise develop into cavities if neglected.

Practicing good oral hygiene is the best thing you can do at home to prevent cavities. But the truth is that brushing and flossing can never remove all bacteria from the mouth. All it takes is a very small spot of tartar to initiate the beginning of a cavity. Teeth often have deep ridges and crevices (especially the molars), so it can be extremely difficult to clean them thoroughly on your own.

When we find these spots of tartar and demineralization, it gives us the opportunity to treat them. Without regular dental cleanings at your family dentist, you are more likely to develop cavities that require restorations, such as fillings and root canal therapy.

Patient-Centered, Family Friendly

At Creative Smiles, you’ll find a caring, patient-focused staff who will make your experience as comfortable as possible. No oral hygiene lectures (unless you ask for them) and no shaming will take place inside our walls. Our one goal is to help you and your family have the best oral health possible, so you can keep your teeth for life.

A native of Hawaii, Dr. Carl Futenma has a friendly chair-side manner that will make every member of your family feel welcome and well cared for. From the youngest member of your family to the oldest, Dr. Futenma’s expertise and experience ensure you get the best care possible.

Visit our Vancouver, WA dental office to meet family dentist Dr. Carl Futenma. We can’t wait to meet you! Call us at 360-574-3061 for an appointment.