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Tips for Keeping Your Kids’ Smiles Bright and Strong


Vancouver, WA family dentistIf you have kids, you know how exhausting it can be to keep them on track. Do your homework, pick up your clothes, put your shoes away. No matter how old they are, there are some reminders children never stop needing.

When it comes to their health, however, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Giving your kids a great start on a lifetime of good oral health is one of the best gifts you can give them. If you want to do more to inspire your kids to take better care of their teeth, these ideas can help you make your children more active and empowered caretakers of their smiles.

If your parental guidance on oral health has been limited to a nightly reminder to “brush your teeth!” then these tips are for you.

Are you looking for an awesome Vancouver, WA family dentist? Dr. Carl Futenma practices family-friendly innovative dentistry. Visit our office to see why adults and kids have great experiences in our dental office.

Kids Learn by Imitation

Speaking, cooking, tying their shoes—kids learn everything by watching you do it first. We always recommend parents of young children brush their teeth in tandem with their kids, so they have a model to follow. Children naturally play ‘follow the leader’ and copy the brushstrokes and patterns you show them.

If you suspect your older kids have gotten a bit lazy with their brushing and flossing, take the time to model good brushing with them again. Don’t be afraid to coach them and narrate what you’re doing. Brushing your teeth out of habit gets boring for kids (and adults too)—that’s why kids moan about having to brush their teeth.

Break up the boredom with some tandem brushing, no matter how old they are. Follow up with modeled flossing, as well, and coach your kids through their own daily flossing routine. You don’t have to do this every night, but you’d be surprised how much a once-per-week oral hygiene coaching can do!

Knowledge is Power

The best way to make children more intrinsically motivated to take good care of their teeth is to empower them with knowledge. If a child understands what’s really happening in his or her mouth, brushing and flossing will take on a whole new meaning.

Know which foods are worst for the teeth (starchy, sugary, and acidic foods), and share this information in graphic detail. If your child is snacking on potato chips or candy, tell him the dirty details of what’s happening in his mouth on a microscopic level.

For example: Do you know what happens when you eat foods like that? The food sticks to your teeth and the bacteria that live in your mouth feast on it and multiply. When they eat the sticky food residue, they excrete acids (yes, they poop acid) that can demineralize your tooth enamel and start cavities.

The language you use will vary based on your kids’ ages and vocabulary, of course, but illustrating the realities of oral health and hygiene will help them be more motivated to keep their teeth clean.

On the flip side, use knowledge to encourage your children to eat mouth-healthy foods as well. Crunchy fruits and vegetables, (like apples, raw broccoli and celery) can help keep the teeth clean between brushings. Their texture can actually scrub plaque and bacteria from the teeth while they chew them. A factoid like creates a visual image that leaves an impression.

The Right Tools Can Help

If you suspect your kids’ oral hygiene has devolved into a token effort, give them the tools to make sure they do a thorough job, every time.

  • Buy a small timer for the bathroom and teach your child how to set it, so they can make sure they brush for a full two minutes each time. (Most kids love buttons and beeps, right?)
  • Small children love to pick out their own toothbrushes with their favorite cartoon characters or superheroes on them. Whatever you can do to make them look forward to tooth-brushing time is a win.
  • If your older kids love music, let them pick a song for you to play while they brush their teeth.
  • Big or small, most kids can find flossing a challenge. Loose floss can be hard to manipulate, so try out many types of handheld pre-loaded flossers to find out which is the easiest for your child to use.
  • Let children pick out their own age-appropriate toothpaste whenever possible. You probably have a preference in the flavor and consistency of your toothpaste, so give your children the same control.

Stay Involved, at Every Age

Ultimately, oral hygiene is like everything else your children have to do. If you just tell them to “do it,” you’re going to see mixed results. Like homework and chores, you have to monitor your children from time to time, to make sure they are doing a good job. As kids turn into teens they are usually less receptive to monitoring, and you may need to sit in on dental appointments in order to find out how things are going.

Parenting is hard, but oral hygiene is pretty simple:

  1. Brush twice a day for two minutes, using a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  2. Floss at least once a day.
  3. Avoid or limit the foods that contribute to decay (starches, refined flours and sugars, acidic foods).
  4. See your dentist every six months for a dental cleaning, exam, and preventive treatments.

If you need a great Vancouver, WA family dentist, visit Creative Smiles. Call us at 360-574-3061 to make an appointment today!

FAQs About Dental Whitening

dental whitening Vancouver, WAWe are frequently asked about teeth whiteners. Do the products available for purchase at stores actually work? Are they harmful to your teeth? Are dentists’ products better? That sort of thing.

While the health of your teeth is always our first priority, we also want our patients to be happy with the way their teeth look. Whitening can be a safe and effective way to brighten up a dull or aging smile. We like to share some basic information with patients, however, to help them make sure they aren’t wasting their money or harming their teeth.

Are you interested in dental whitening Vancouver, WA? Visit Creative Smiles and talk to Dr. Carl Futenma about your smile goals. Call us at 360-574-3061 to make an appointment.

Why isn’t my whitening product working?

It’s important to understand that there are two types of stains: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains are on the inside of the tooth, so no amount of over-the-counter whitening treatments will reach them. They can be caused by injury, certain antibiotics, or too much fluoride when your teeth were still developing.

Whitening products are only effective with extrinsic stains, in which environmental factors have left pigment residue inside the matrix structure of your tooth enamel. Coffee, tea, red wine, tobacco, and any foods that can stain clothing are the usual culprits, and the result is an overall yellowing or greying of the teeth.

OTC products are not as powerful as dentist-provided whiteners, and one-size delivery systems do not work as well as customized trays. There may be issues with the quality of the active ingredients, due to the fact that the products may sit on shelves for years or may be exposed to temperature extremes that degrade the chemicals.

If your stains are caused by food and beverage pigments, we can help you eliminate them with prescription strength whitening gel and more effective delivery methods. If you have intrinsic stains, there are other cosmetic treatments that can correct them, such as dental bonding and porcelain veneers.

Is whitening safe?

When used as directed, whitening products are safe for your teeth and gums. If overused, they can damage your tooth enamel by leaching vital minerals away before they are replaced by natural processes.

This is why stronger whiteners can actually be safer than weaker products. If you don’t get the results you want, you may be tempted to keep using the products indefinitely, which isn’t healthy. Use a more effective system, however, and you’ll see results quicker and won’t need to whiten so often.

We don’t provide any whitening treatments that will harm your teeth, as long as you use the products correctly. If you’re going to use an OTC whitener, be safe. Choose a product with the ADA seal and follow the written directions to ensure you don’t harm your teeth.

Are dentists’ products better than OTC products?

All teeth whiteners use what is essentially the same ingredient, hydrogen peroxide. This chemical uses oxygen bubbles to break down pigment stains in your tooth enamel. The same ingredient does not mean, however, that you’ll see the same results from every whitening product.

OTC products tend to use a one-size-fits all delivery method (tray or strips) which don’t always fit your mouth properly. This can lead to the gel being diluted by saliva or migrating outside the tray, which can hurt the gum tissue and make you less likely to wear them long enough to be effective.

With customized whitening trays, we can ensure the gel stays in contact with the teeth properly, so the product can break down stains faster and more efficiently. We use a dental impression to create customized trays that fit your teeth like a glove, ensuring the gel stays in place. Dentists’ products also use a stronger and more chemically stable form of peroxide gel, which means the results will be more predictable.

How do one-day treatments work?

Some dental offices provide one-day whitening treatments. These use high concentrations of peroxide and a special light to deliver a powerful burst of enamel bleaching. Usually the patient will sit under the light for three 15-minute sessions. During this time, the peroxide is activated by the light to work faster in oxidizing and breaking down stains. These treatments can be highly effective, though they do cause tooth sensitivity in some patients. They also cost a good bit more than take-home whitening trays.

Which type of whitening should I choose?

Ultimately the choice is yours. Some OTC products can be quite effective when used correctly, but dentist-provided products will always work faster and more predictably. It really depends on how much money you want to spend and how fast you want to see results. Many patients are happy to invest in the appearance of their smiles, especially if they have a wedding or other special occasion they want to look good for.

Visit Creative Smiles for Dental Whitening Vancouver, WA

Ask Dr. Futenma about dental whitening treatments during your next office visit. We will explain the treatments we offer, and help you understand how to keep your teeth safe. Call us at 360-574-3061 to make an appointment for a dental whitening consultation.

Click here to learn about dental whitening Vancouver, WA with Creative Smiles.

5 Things to Look for When Choosing a Dental Clinic

photo of young man looking through a magnifying glassWhether you are on the lookout for a new dentist for yourself or for your entire family, it can be a stressful process. With countless options to choose from in our community, it can be difficult to know if you are making the right decisions. Of course, you want a provider with warmth and friendliness, but he or she also has to be skilled and knowledgeable. Last week we explored how to find the best dentist in your town. Today, we will expand on that a bit more and tell you how to find a dental clinic in Vancouver, WA to suit your unique needs. Read on to find out why Creative Smiles is well-equipped to serve your family.

Doctor’s Education

As you might imagine, one of the most important elements to an excellent dental office is the education level of the doctor. In order to be licensed in the United States, an individual must receive a degree from an accredited four-year dental school. However, education does not stop there. All licensed dental professionals, including hygienists and assistants, must routinely attend continuing education courses to stay up to date with the latest methods in the field. This allows the staff to provide patients with the highest level of care possible. When interviewing for a dental clinic in Vancouver, WA, don’t be afraid to ask the doctor and the staff about their level of education, as most are more than happy to share with you.

Doctor’s Experience

There is not a single dentist who opens a practice with zero experience. By the time he or she graduates from dental school, they have already performed a number of clinical procedures. But let’s face it… the longer a dentist has been practicing, the more experience he or she has. If you are seeking a specific treatment, it is important to interview potential dental providers to determine how long they have been performing a particular procedure. For example, if you are looking for someone to perform the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique™ to correct your receding gums, you would want to choose a dentist certified in that procedure, like Dr. Carl Futenma.

Friendliness of the Team

When shopping for a dental clinic in Vancouver, WA, you should feel comfortable the moment you walk through the door. The staff should greet you with warmth and friendliness, so you feel right at home. Going to the dentist is typically not on the top of anyone’s “love to do” list. But at Creative Smiles, we are committed to making your experience as pleasant as possible.

Cleanliness and Safety

When you visit a dental clinic in Vancouver, WA, take note of the cleanliness of the treatment rooms. Are the counters clean? Are there dust bunnies in the corners? Does everything seem organized? When a treatment room is clean and put together, it is a good indication that the rest of the office is as well. All dental clinics must adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by OSHA, as well. Therefore, your dental clinic should keep current and thorough records regarding sterilization and disinfecting techniques.

Excellent Communication

The importance of communication cannot be expressed enough. When you leave the dental office, you should feel well-informed and comfortable about your treatment options. Choose a dentist who will willingly take time to listen to your concerns. If you do not feel heard or appreciated, then move on. If you dentist has good communication with you, he or she will also have good communication with other members of your dental team, so you can receive optimal-level care.

Contact Us to Learn More

If you are looking for a dental clinic in Vancouver, WA, we sincerely hope you will pay us a visit at Creative Smiles. Dr. Futenma and our team are excited to serve the needs of you and your family. To schedule a consultation, contact us online or call us at (360) 574-3061.

Finding the Best Dentist in Vancouver WA

best dentist in Vancouver WAAre you new in town, or simply unhappy with your current dental clinic? Finding the best dentist in Vancouver, WA is a bit like finding the best supermarket or best pediatrician: individual results will vary! Every patient is going have slightly different tastes and expectations when looking for a care provider, but that doesn’t mean your perfect fit isn’t out there waiting to be discovered.

Ultimately, there is no “best dentist” as much as there is the best dentist for you and your family. Just like finding the best house or the best spouse, finding the best dentist means finding the right fit.

Read on for Dr. Carl Futenma’s tips for finding the best dentist in Vancouver WA to meet your family’s needs and expectations. Schedule a meet-and-greet at Creative Smiles and we’ll show you what makes our practice unique. Call ahead (360-574-3061) and we’ll make time to sit down with you and answer all your questions.

Don’t Be Afraid to Interview Your Dentist

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t take the time to meet their dentist before treatment, and they schedule their first routine check-up to serve as an “audition.” We think it’s important to find a good fit. No one wants to be jumping around from provider to provider when their appointments aren’t as positive as they would like, so we will happily take the time to interview to be your dentist.

Having an informal conversation with a potential dentist is a great way to gauge the success of future interactions. What should you talk about? These are our favorite conversation starters:

  • What makes your practice unique?
  • What do some dentists get wrong, in your opinion?
  • Why did you go into this field?
  • How do you ensure your patients have a positive experience?
  • How do you provide your patients get the best care possible?
  • How do you make sure your patients feel comfortable and safe during appointments?

Consider Your Family’s “Special Needs”

Many people don’t think too much about it when trying to find a good provider, but every family has unique circumstances and unique needs. We all want top quality services, but a family with five young children is going to have vastly different priorities than one with an older teenager, or no children. When you meet with a potential dentist, don’t hesitate to share what your family needs and ask how he or she can help make your life easier!

Consider ranking how important each of the following factors is for your family. Mark the most important with a 1 and the least important with 11:

____ Affordable services.

____ Help with insurance paperwork.

____ Innovative treatments.

____ Patience with “difficult” patients.

____ Flexible scheduling and convenient hours.

____ Creature comforts and sedation options.

____ Family-friendly offices and waiting areas.

____ Respect for patient dignity.

____ Fast appointments, with no fuss.

____ Patient education/communication of dental health issues.

____ Warm and compassionate staff.

Taking the time to think about what you are looking for in a dental practice can help you focus in on what really matters the most. When you meet with potential dentists, ask how they approach your top three issues. You probably won’t feel the need to share these rankings with the providers you meet, but they may help you make a decision.

Find the Best Dentist for Your Family

We hope you’ll add a visit with Dr. Carl Futenma to your list of potential dentists. At Creative Smiles, we provide high quality affordable dentistry, with an emphasis on innovative care and patient comfort. To see what our patients like about Creative Smiles, read our testimonials. Happy hunting; we hope you find the best dentist in Vancouver WA to meet your family’s needs! Call us at 360-574-3061 to learn more about our practice or schedule an appointment.