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Your Child’s First Dental Visit

dentist Vancouver, WAMany first-time parents have questions about when to bring their child to the dentist. Current recommendations say your child should see a dentist by his or her third birthday, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about it.

Family dentist Vancouver, WA Dr. Carl Futenma encourages parents to bring little ones in whenever you suspect something is not right with their oral health or dental development. If you see possible signs of tartar build-up or dark spots that may indicate tooth decay, this is also a good reason to make an appointment. If your child ever complains of a toothache, schedule a visit immediately, no matter what their age!

Is your child approaching the recommended age for a first trip to the dentist? Bring your child to Creative Smiles (dentist Vancouver, WA) and you’ll see what sets us apart from other practices. Call us at 360-573-3061 to make an appointment.

Early Visits Lessen Fear and Anxiety

While your child may not need a formal cleaning and routine check-up until the third birthday, earlier visits are a good way to pre-empt anxiety before the first formal visit. Kids sometimes become wary when they hear they have to go to the dentist. This is mostly due to fear of the unknown. The earlier you bring your child to the dentist, the easier it can be to allay these fears.

If your child already experiences anxiety over doctor appointments, due to getting vaccine shots, for example, you may want to bring your child to your dental visits occasionally. This can help establish that the dentist’s office is a safe and friendly place to be. This can make the first formal visit less fraught for some children.

What Happens at the First Dental Visit?

Always let us know if your child’s appointment is his first time seeing a dentist. We like to take extra special care to make sure first-timers feel safe and comfortable before we start. This sometimes involves giving them extra time to get used to procedures, letting them ask questions, and explaining the things we do.

During each child’s routine visit, we:

  1. Take x-rays, so we can see what’s going on below the surface.
  2. Examine the teeth and gums, to check for normal development.
  3. Check for cavities or soft spots that may develop into cavities.
  4. Perform a teeth cleaning, to remove plaque.
  5. Apply fluoride gel, to strengthen the teeth and prevent decay.
  6. Apply sealants, to provide a barrier against bacteria.
  7. Talk with the patient about brushing and flossing technique.
  8. Talk with the parent about oral hygiene, eating habits, and potential concerns.
  9. Schedule your next visit, about six months into the future.

Preventing Tooth Decay, from the First Tooth

Baby books don’t always cover oral health topics fully. It’s sometimes a surprise to parents that oral hygiene should start with the very first tooth! Baby teeth are smaller than adult teeth and have thinner enamel. This means that dental decay can worsen and spread faster than in adult teeth. Starting a regular daily oral hygiene routine at a young age is a great way to make sure your child’s first dental visits don’t involve toothaches or cavities.

Infants should have their teeth cleaned daily with a soft wet washcloth or a piece of gauze. Parents can move on to baby-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste (without fluoride) when the child is old enough to cooperate with a nightly brushing.

As your child becomes ready and willing to brush for himself, make sure to use only age-appropriate toothpastes, as children tend to swallow a lot more than they spit. Swallowing fluoride can be a health hazard as it is toxic in high doses and can cause staining in developing teeth. Also, be sure to brush his or her teeth for him regularly, to make sure the teeth are really getting clean.

When your child is old enough to spit out the toothpaste reliably, you can switch to a fluoride-containing toothpaste—but be sure to continue to monitor brushing to ensure good habits. It’s a good idea for parents to monitor kids’ brushing habits until they are out of elementary school, in fact, even if it’s just once or twice a week.

Beyond brushing the teeth every day,

  • Don’t put a baby or toddler to bed with a bottle of milk, as this can lead to baby bottle decay. If they insist on a bottle at bed time, switch to water instead.
  • Avoid fruit juice, sodas, and sugary sweets.
  • Buy brushing and flossing tools that get your child excited about brushing.
  • A timer can help kids make sure they brush for a full two minutes every time.
  • Brush your own teeth in tandem with your child, occasionally, to model good brushing technique.
  • Use flossing picks made for children to help small hands learn how to floss between the teeth.

If your child is nearly three years old, visit Creative Smiles for a wonderful first dental visit. Call us at 360-573-3061 to make an appointment with Dr. Futenma, dentist Vancouver, WA .

Dental Anxiety is Real: Sedation May Help

sedation dentist Vancouver WAYoung and old, there are a lot of people out there who experience dental anxiety. Sometimes, even the mere thought of visiting the dentist can lead to feelings of panic or avoidance. Dental anxiety can stem from bad experiences in the past, fear of giving up control, or fear of physical pain.

We’ll readily admit that dental appointments can be difficult. It goes against basic human instincts to allow strangers to poke at your sensitive oral tissues with noisy metal tools. It’s not so odd when you think about it. Some people simply have a harder time ignoring those instincts.

At Creative Smiles, we want every patient to have a comfortable experience getting the care they need. For this reason, we employ several strategies to help our patients overcome their dental anxiety.

Are you looking for a sedation dentist Vancouver WA to help you or your loved one get the oral care you need? Dr. Carl Futenma caters to nervous and phobic patients with his calm, friendly approach and sedation qualifications.

Dental Anxiety? Let’s Talk

No matter what form your dental anxiety takes, Dr. Futenma will sit down with you and discuss your needs prior to treatment. Scheduling an anxiety meet-and-consult before your treatment will help you feel confident that this appointment will be different from the traumas you’ve endured in the past.

Common Dental Anxiety Situations

Dental anxiety can look different for every patient. Some patients have a hard time getting through the door, while other feel panicked during treatment.

Difficulty enduring chair-time?

Nitrous oxide gas has been used safely for more than a hundred years and helps dental patients avoid sensitivity and mental distress during appointments. The gas is administered with oxygen, through a nose mask, to induce analgesic (painkilling) and dissociative effects. When the nose mask is removed, the drug leaves the system quickly and patients can even drive themselves home.

Phobia of dental appointments?

Oral sedation comes in the form of a pill, which means patients can take the medication before the appointment. This helps patients feel more comfortable both prior to and during dental treatments. The medications used in oral sedation are the same types of anti-anxiety drugs frequently prescribed to nervous flyers and people who experience panic attacks, so you can guarantee they will have a notable impact.

Physical discomfort and anxiety at the prospect of a long appointment?

For patients with severe anxiety or multiple concerns, oral sedation and nitrous oxide gas can be combined for a more profoundly calming experience. These two techniques work so well that patients frequently fall asleep naturally during their appointments.

Dental anxiety, but you don’t want to take drugs?

Creative Smiles offers an innovative treatment called NuCalm to induce a more relaxed physical state without the use of sedatives. Safe, non-invasive brainwave stimulation and sensory deprivation work together to “take you away” as efficiently as some medications. Learn more about this treatment option by reading our January post on NuCalm.

Fear of needles and drills?

In our office, we use dental lasers to prepare a tooth for a filling or root canal therapy, instead of drills. This means less trauma, noise, and vibration during your filling and a reduced need for anesthetic injections. (Some deeper cavities will still require a shot of anesthetic, but many surface cavities can be treated without an injection.)

Do you need a sedation dentist Vancouver WA? Call Creative Smiles to make an appointment with a doctor and staff who understand your struggle and are on your side. Call our Vancouver, WA office at 360-574-3061 or contact us online to make an appointment.

Why Six-Month Visits Matter!

Vancouver, WA dentistA lot of people think “I should go to the dentist more regularly, but who has the time?” We sympathize completely, but skipping out on routine dental cleanings and check-ups is a recipe for disaster.

Think of it this way: the number one cause of tooth loss is not cavities, but neglect. When oral health is neglected, the teeth and gums have a greater potential for developing the serious conditions (deep cavities and gum disease) that lead to lost teeth. If you plan on keeping your teeth for life, regular six-month visits need to be a part of that plan!

Do you need a Vancouver, WA dentist? Dr. Carl Futenma would love the honor of being your new provider. Even if it’s been a while, we love to meet new patients and help them get the care they need. Call us at 360-574-3061 for a friendly and welcoming Vancouver, WA dentist.

Prevention Vs. Cure

Which would you rather do, suffer an infected tooth that causes a severe toothache and have to pay for a root canal therapy appointment? Or have a short routine appointment every six months? While the options are not so severe for everyone, this is often reason enough to schedule regular dental appointments. When it comes to your teeth, prevention is always better than cure!

More Than Just an Exam

Patients sometimes think routine visits are just a check-up and tooth exam. The truth is that routine appointments don’t just check for oral health problems, they prevent them!

We can spot “soft spots” of demineralized enamel that are on their way to becoming cavities, and apply treatments to prevent a cavity from forming. Once a cavity form, however, the only treatment is a filling. Let the cavity continue to deepen, and you may be in for a painful toothache and root canal therapy—or even an extraction.

We can also identify gingivitis, the precursor form of periodontitis (gum disease), which can be reversed. If you have signs of gingivitis, it’s always better to know, because you can change your oral care habits and reverse the condition. If we don’t catch it until it is full-blown periodontitis, there is no way to cure it, only treat it.

In addition, we do lots of good things for your mouth during routine visits, like remove hardened plaque (calculus) and check for early signs of oral cancer. Come see us to learn about all that we do!

When Medical Issues Cause Silent Damage

No matter how good your oral hygiene may be, there are plenty of cases in which medical issues can disrupt your oral health. Often patients don’t notice these changes, as they may affect only your tooth enamel and thus cause no pain.

Some common medical conditions that often affect oral health include diabetes, changes in medication, acid reflux, pregnancy, major dietary changes, and much more. For example, even a medical problem as simple as dry mouth can cause significant harm to your teeth. If a new medication is drying you out, you should know the safest ways to counteract mouth dryness without causing harm to your teeth. Without your normal volume of saliva, teeth may be subject to rapid, severe tooth decay.

Six-month visits give us an important opportunity to keep an eye on things, so you can rest easy knowing your teeth are still in good shape.

Team Oral Health!

If it’s been a while since your last dental visit, come see us at Creative Smiles in Vancouver, WA. Our new patient specials ($29 for exam and x-rays) make it easy for you to get the care you need, even if you don’t have dental insurance.

With our no-shame policy, we guarantee you won’t get a lecture from any of our staff. We are on your side and want to help you get back on track. We know that keeping up with all of life’s challenges can be hard, but a routine visit does not take long, and is a great investment in your oral health.

If you need a Vancouver, WA dentist, call Creative Smiles today at 360-574-3061. We would love to be your oral heath team.