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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.

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.

Are You Looking for Affordable Dentistry?

affordable dentistry in Vancouver WAIt’s a sad fact, but did you know that one out of every three to four adults in America does not get regular dental care? For some people, dental anxiety plays a role in forgoing dental services, but for many it is a matter of financial anxiety.

At Creative Smiles, we believe everyone should have access to high-quality affordable dentistry. You should never have to choose between quality services and affordability. For this reason, we take the time to work with each family individually and help you determine a payment scheme that fits into your budget.

Are you looking for the best affordable dentistry in Vancouver, WA? Look no further! Call Creative Smiles at (360) 574-3061 or contact us online to make an appointment.

What We Do to Make Dentistry Affordable

If you’ve been avoiding dentistry appointments due to financial concerns, give us the opportunity to provide you with affordable options for treatment.

If you do not have dental insurance, we offer a $29 new patient special, which includes an exam and dental x-rays. This is your starting point. After we conduct a thorough exam, we will let you know if you have any health concerns, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or structural damage. If there are issues, we will provide you with a personalized treatment plan to explain the recommended steps needed to restore your oral health, and the estimated costs and treatment timeline.

We have two patient care coordinators on staff who will sit down with you and help you understand the treatments plan. If you have dental insurance, we will contact your insurer to find out what percent of the costs will be covered and what percent are out-of-pocket. If you are not insured, we will share with you some of the common pathways that people use to pay for dental services. These often include CareCredit, in-office payment plans, and other forms of financing that are preferable to traditional high-interest credit cards. We want to you to have access to the best oral care possible, and you shouldn’t have to bury yourself in a mountain of debt to do it!

Meet Our Doctor

Dr. Carl Futenma was born and raised on the small island of Kauai, in Hawaii. After attending the University of Hawaii, he worked as a teacher before deciding to pursue his dream of becoming a dentist. He joined the Air Force Dental General Dentistry Residency, where he served for three years. In total, he has practiced dentistry for over 20 years and loves to enrich the quality of his dental services with continuing education and acquiring innovative techniques and technology.

In his practice, Dr. Futenma puts the emphasis on patient comfort and positive experiences. He has invested time and energy into mastering techniques that make dentistry more patient-friendly. For example, he uses laser dentistry tools that make gum disease treatments and fillings more comfortable (no drill needed) and provides sedation dentistry options for patients who suffer from dental anxiety. You will find the most up-to-date tools and techniques at Creative Smiles—all at affordable prices.

If you’ve been avoiding the dentist over money concerns, call us today to get back on track. Let us show you that affordable dentistry does not mean “bargain services” or cutting corners. Call our Vancouver, WA dental office at (360) 574-3061 to make an appointment. In addition to Vancouver, our office is convenient to Battle Ground, Ridgefield, Orchards, Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, and Portland, OR.

Call Creative Smiles for Affordable Dentistry in Vancouver, WA. Only $29 for Exam and X-Rays.

What Every Parent Should Know About Wisdom Teeth

wisdom teeth extractionParents of teens and tweens often have questions about wisdom teeth. There is a lot of information about wisdom teeth available online, but it can be confusing when you try to understand what it means for your child, specifically.

The most important thing I tell all parents about wisdom teeth is that we are already thinking about them!

Every time your child comes in for a dental check-up, we review dental x-rays to monitor the growth and position of the wisdom teeth. We assess each child’s situation individually and will let you know when we think the optimal time for removal will be, if needed.

Do you have a teen who needs routine dental care and wisdom teeth extraction? Call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 to learn about wisdom teeth extraction with Dr. Carl Futenma.

Wisdom Teeth: Who Needs Them?

A curious fact about wisdom teeth (the 3rd molars) is that they are not needed for proper dentition. They are a biological holdover from when we used to chew a great deal more fibrous plants and unprocessed grains, thousands of years ago. Many people do not develop wisdom teeth, in fact, or only grow a set on the top or bottom. Most of us do, however, so we have learned that they can be problematic.

Over the past few millennia, human jaws have been getting smaller, but we still grow the same number of teeth to fit into those jaws. This means wisdom teeth can cause problems when they come in. There may not be enough room for them to erupt, so they become impacted—often painfully. Even if there is room in the jaw, they can still lead to overcrowding and undo all that effort you put into straightening the teeth with orthodontics!

Why Wisdom Teeth are Often Removed

If we think your child’s wisdom teeth are going to cause eruption problems or may upset proper alignment, we usually recommend extraction. They are not needed for proper chewing, so in many ways the procedure is a preventive measure. Your child avoids potential pain and dental problems in the future by having the wisdom teeth extracted.

Even when there is ample room in the jaw for wisdom teeth to erupt, patients often choose to have them extracted, anyway. Why? Molars are harder to keep clean to begin with, due to their deep crevices, and the third molars erupt in the farthest corner of the mouth. It can be hard to manipulate a toothbrush and flossing tools so far into the mouth, and many adults develop decay in the deep ridges of the wisdom teeth. Many people who keep their wisdom teeth when they were younger find they have to get them extracted at a later date when they begin to suffer deep decay and structural damage. This can often be more traumatic than having it done before they erupt.

When is the Best Time for Wisdom Teeth Extraction?

Most children begin developing wisdom teeth in their jaws by about age ten. We can see them on a dental x-ray, even though the child won’t notice their presence and they won’t try to erupt until much later.

The ideal time for extraction will be before the teeth have erupted, at a point when the wisdom teeth have developed roots and the surrounding bone is less dense. We typically recommend extraction occur at some point between 16 and 19 years of age, but every mouth is different. Some teens will be ready for extraction at age 15, and some may not be at the ideal stage until they are 20 years old.

This is why routine dental visits are so important. They allow us to monitor the development of the wisdom teeth over a period of several years, so we can determine and advise you of the best time for extraction.

To learn more about wisdom teeth extraction, call our Vancouver, WA dental office at 360-574-3061 to make an appointment.

Call Creative Smiles for Vancouver WA wisdom teeth extraction.

A Family Dentist Can Provide Great Pediatric Care

family dentist
Do you have a little one (or two) who is approaching the age of his or her first dental visit?  Your first instinct may be to seek out a pediatric specialty dentist, but great pediatric care can be found with a general dentist, too.

Just as with all care providers, some general practitioners are great with kids, and some do better with adults and older kids. At Creative Smiles, Dr. Carl Futenma loves treating families, and provides friendly, appropriate care for every age and need. Call our office at 360-574-3061 for great pediatric dentistry in Vancouver, WA.

When To Bring Your Child to the Dentist

Children should visit the dentist for their first exam and cleaning by the third birthday. However, we encourage parents to bring toddlers in earlier for informal visits. This can  help them associate the dental office with positive experiences before their time comes. Bringing your two-year-old to watch your dental appointment, just once, can help normalize the things that happen in the dental chair and show a child that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

At your child’s first formal dental visit, we will take the time to make sure he or she feels comfortable before we ask to see the teeth. Adult attitudes toward dental visits are often shaped by early childhood encounters at the dentist. We aim to provide a relaxed and joyful experience, in the hopes that positive interactions will allay any potential stress or anxiety.

Children’s Unique Dental Needs

Oral hygiene should begin as soon as a child has teeth. Infants’ teeth can be cleaned with a wet washcloth, piece of gauze, or a specially designed infant toothbrush. In addition to cleaning the teeth, avoid any sugary or starchy foods near bedtime or nap time, which can create a decay-friendly acidic environment in the mouth.

Never put your child to bed with a bottle, as this can lead to early pediatric decay (sometimes called baby bottle decay).  Make sure he or she finishes the bottle at least a half an hour before bedtime. Try to use a pacifier or give a bottle with water in it, if your child likes to fall asleep with a bottle.

Make sure you use age-appropriate toothpaste with your child, as fluoride should not be used until a child is old enough to reliably spit out more toothpaste than he or she swallows. Swallowing too much fluoride can cause staining on the adult teeth growing in your child’s jaw, and may even cause poisoning. Use an age-appropriate toothpaste until you are confident he or she is spitting is all out.

Flossing should commence as soon as your child has enough teeth that they are pressed close together. If loose floss proves difficult for you or your child to wield, try some of the fun, flavored pre-loaded flossing picks made especially for small children.

Watch for Signs of Decay

Children’s teeth have thinner enamel than adult teeth, which means decay can develop and advance faster than in adult teeth. This is why we encourage parents to always monitor their child’s brushing and flossing habits. It’s even a good idea to brush the teeth yourself every now and then (up to age six or so) to make sure they are getting thoroughly cleaned. This also gives you the opportunity to notice if there are any discolored spots forming, which may indicate a cavity.

When a Pediatric Specialty Dentist Might Be Needed

Most children do fine with a family dentist, but there are some cases in which a specialist should be sought for pediatric dentistry. If your child has a medical condition that causes oral health problems, a specialist may have more experience with these cases. Additionally, early problems with tooth eruption are sometimes best understood by a pediatric specialist. Dr. Futenma provides appropriate care for all children, but he will be the first one to recommend a pediatric specialist if your child may be better served that way.

Call Creative Smiles to learn more about pediatric dentistry in Vancouver WA. Dr. Futenma and our dental staff love to see children have great first experiences at the dentist, and will give your children the attention and patience they deserve! Call 360-574-3061 to make an appointment.