Keep your mouth happy and healthy with our list of the 782 best dentists in Denver and beyond. Plus, learn how to care for your choppers (and gums!) when you trade the bathroom sink for a backcountry campsite.
—David Arky/Trunk Archive
How we come up with the Top Dentists list.
This list is pulled from the 2016 top Dentists database, which is created using peer evaluations and includes listings for more than 800 dentists and specialists in Colorado alone. To create its list, topDentists asked dentists and specialists a personal question: “If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which dentist would you refer him or her to?” The nomination pool consisted of all active dentists listed online with the American Dental Association as well as with dental academies and societies. (Dentists could also nominate others who may not be on those lists.) Respondents were asked to consider experience, continuing education, manner with patients, use of new techniques and technologies, and physical results. After responses were compiled, dentists were checked against state dental boards for disciplinary actions to make sure they have active licenses and are in good standing. We realize there are many fine dentists who are not on this list; a dentist’s inclusion is based on the subjective judgments of fellow dentists. For more information, visit usatopdentists.com .
Endodontist: Treats issues related to nerves and the inner portions of the tooth, such as root canal therapy
General Dentist: Performs preventive dental care and basic upkeep, including cleanings and X-rays
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: Removes impacted teeth (such as wisdom teeth) and performs reconstructive surgeries, like rebuilding broken jaws
Oral Pathologist: Studies, identifies, and treats oral diseases ranging from potentially cancerous leukoplakia to canker sores
Orthodontist: Modifies your bite or coaxes teeth into alignment using braces and other devices
Pediatric Dentist: Provides therapeutic and preventive dental care for kids
Periodontist: Specializes in the periodontium, or supporting tooth structure, and treats gum disease and receding gums
Prosthodontist: Deals with dentures, implants, and bridges, as well as complex crown work
The Four Commandments of Backcountry Brushing
A veteran guide at backpacking outfitter Noah’s Ark in Buena Vista, Jordan Wrinkle doles out teeth-cleaning rules that will keep the forest fresh—no mint gel required.
1. Thou shalt not swish with stream water. Purify water from creeks or lakes with iodine tablets, or use a water filtration pump. Even if you don’t swallow unclean water, giardia and other parasites can leech onto your toothbrush, making you susceptible to infections the next time you brush and, uh, GI symptoms that’ll catch up to you a week or two after your return to civilization.
2. Thou shalt not leave dental hygiene products inside the tent. When you’re finished brushing, place your sweet-smelling toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in a bear-proof bag with the rest of your food. Then fasten it at least 12 feet up a tree and no fewer than 100 feet away from your campsite.
3. Thou shalt not spit near the river. Discarded toothpaste (the stuff you spit out) releases triclosan, a toxin that has been found to kill healthy bacteria in aquatic ecosystems. Hike at least 100 feet away from creeks or lakes before spitting to avoid contaminating water sources. And even when you’re far away from any babbling brooks, use an environmentally friendly paste like Earthpaste, which has only five simple ingredients.
4. Thou shalt not spit in a single blob. Leaving toothpaste remnants in one location not only attracts wild animals, but it can also sicken them. If possible, dilute the paste in your mouth with enough water to employ a spray technique, therefore distributing the watered-down solution over a larger area.
Leave No Trace (of Paste)
When you’re in the mountains without a shower or bar of soap in sight, maintaining a spotless smile is the closest you’ll get to feeling clean. That’s why we consulted local dentists to come up with a manual for backcountry dental care.
Dental hygiene essentials in the wild are just offshoots of what you use at home.
»Toothbrush: Any travel-size brush with a plastic cap that protects the bristles from dirt—such as Liberty Mountain’s compact toothbrush ($2.50 at REI)—will do. Be sure to replace your toothbrush after each camping season, unless you want it to grow something unsavory.
»Toothpaste: Lakewood-based Archtek ’s Toothpaste Tablets weigh less than a dime each. Just pop one of the mint-flavored, bleach-free discs into your mouth, chew, brush (no water required), and spit.
»NonFlavored Floss: The unusually strong string is the most under-appreciated camping sidekick this side of a pocketknife. In a bind, it can tie down a tent flap, repair a shoe lace, and cinch a bear bag.
»Saline Solution: If your tooth gets knocked out, place it—unwashed—into a container filled with saline solution. Then get yourself to the dentist, where the tooth can often be put back into the socket if it’s still hydrated and whole.
Neglect In Nature
Let’s face it: When we hit the trail, we like to travel light and leave the creature comforts at home. But Dr. James Fischer, a Westminster dentist, explains in icky detail what happens when you “forget” to pack in your toothbrush and paste.
After Just One Day: Teeth feeling a little furry after 24 hours of no brushing? That woolly sensation is plaque—bacteria that feed on sugar and other food leftovers—beginning to stick to your teeth. The filmy, sticky, colorless deposits won’t make a long-term home if you resume your regular hygiene routine tomorrow. In short, this is your free pass. Enjoy.
After Three To Six Days: Plaque continues to gorge on the remnants of last night’s s’mores, leading to the beginnings of stains on your teeth. Plaque can also harden into tartar, mineral buildup that won’t budge even when you start brushing again. If that doesn’t make you break out the brush, consider the tent-clearing rotten breath you’ll have.
After A Week: After seven days without a good scrubbing, your mouth becomes a petri dish of horrors. Bacteria begin eating into tooth enamel (read: cavities!) and gingivitis—mild gum disease caused by too much plaque—could begin to set in. And if your kid is sporting metal, the accumulation of plaque around her braces will permanently weaken her teeth.
After A Month: Let’s say you’re hiking the 485-mile Colorado Trail and have decided a toothbrush is an extravagance. Huge mistake. Massive plaque buildup leads to decalcification, a scenario in which little white spots on your teeth indicate that your choppers are losing nutrients like calcium and phosphate and becoming susceptible to decay. Plus, advanced gingivitis might result in periodontal disease, which is the breakdown of gum tissue and underlying bone.