More from our June 2017 Issue
How we come up with the Top Dentists list.
This list is pulled from the 2017 topDentists database, which is created using peer evaluations and includes listings for more than 800 dentists and specialists in Colorado. 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 comprised 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 the 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, go here.
Treats issues related to nerves and the inner portions of the tooth; root canals are a common procedure
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
Studies, identifies, and treats oral diseases ranging from potentially cancerous leukoplakia to canker sores
Modifies your bite or coaxes unruly teeth into alignment using braces and other devices
Provides therapeutic and preventive dental care for kids
Specializes in the periodontium, or supporting tooth structure, and treats gum disease and receding gums
Deals with dentures, implants, and bridges, as well as complex crown work
Brush Like Your Life Depends On It
Here’s another good reason to floss: The bacteria that settle in the mouth and cause gum disease can also enter the bloodstream and infiltrate other body systems, causing a host of illnesses. Fortunately, it’s easy to stave off the following health problems if you brush at least twice a day, floss before bed or after breakfast, and visit your dentist once a year. —Emma Murray
It’s possible for a gum-disease patient to develop type 2 diabetes, says Dr. Michael McDermott, the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Medicine’s endocrinology and diabetes practice director. The inflammatory molecules produced by gum disease, he says, can impair the body’s ability to make and use insulin. If a patient is already obese or genetically predisposed to diabetes, an oral hygiene issue can tip him into diabetic territory. “It’s a two-way street,” he says, adding that those already diagnosed with diabetes have a higher risk of dental disease because of extra glucose in their saliva.
According to Dr. Lonnie Johnson, senior associate dean at the CU School of Dental Medicine, those who suffer from advanced gum disease are more likely to have heart disease than those who do not. Although a causal relationship hasn’t been proven conclusively, scientists suspect the link is in the bacteria found in infected gum tissue and the inflammation it causes. Bacteria around teeth can filter throughout the respiratory system and seep into the bloodstream, potentially settling in fatty deposits in coronary arteries. Those deposits can then break off and cause heart attacks or strokes.
Pregnant women in particular need to worry about gum health: Untreated severe gum disease can lead to preterm birth and low birth weight. Elevated levels of prostaglandin—a labor-inducing compound found in one strain of oral bacteria—can cause a mother to give birth prematurely. Fortunately, the risk of pregnancy complications can be reduced by as much as 50 percent with gum disease treatment, including medication and deep cleaning.
Saliva doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Not only does spit help keep your teeth clean throughout the day by neutralizing acid in bacteria and washing away food, it also regulates the chemical and physical state of your mouth and can help heal your gums. When saliva quality or quantity is impaired—by things like medications, aging, stress, smoking, and autoimmune disorders—your ability to extract nutrients from food is hindered and your digestive system can be compromised, according to the National Institutes of Health. This can lead to gastrointestinal issues, like gastroesophageal reflux disease, an uncomfortable condition in which stomach acid flows back into the food pipe.
The American Academy of Periodontology warns men with periodontal disease, particularly those younger than 30 or older than 70, that their risk of developing impotence may be higher than that of men with healthy gums. Although the link between the two issues requires further research, scientists believe the prolonged chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can also damage other blood vessels in the body, including the ones in the male reproductive organ.
When you inhale, any bacteria built up from those nights you forgot to brush can travel into your lungs, settle down, and cause infections. This bacterial colonization can lead to pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—two of the leading causes of death in the United States, especially in those with already compromised immune systems.
The average American pays her dentist a visit more often than her general practitioner. And because more than 90 percent of systemic diseases have oral manifestations, there’s a good chance your oral health care professional could be the first to notice a change in your well-being. —EM
If your dentist sees…Increasingly fragile gums and bleeding and reddening around the teeth, plus an atrophying tongue
That could mean…Diabetes
And they might say…If you haven’t already been diagnosed with diabetes, you should speak with your internist or an endocrinologist. No matter what, you need to get your gums healthy by brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and seeing your dentist at least once a year. Treating signs of gum disease has been proven to help diabetics improve glycemic control.
If your dentist sees…Pale and receding gums and atypical smoothness of the tongue
That could mean…Anemia
And they might say…Take your vitamins. Iron deficiency anemia and vitamin B complex deficiencies can upset the chemistry in the mouth and lead to such erosions.
If your dentist sees…Severe bleeding and inflammation around the gums, sometimes coupled with aching bones and joints
That could mean…Leukemia
And they might say…Leukemic cells will infiltrate gums when the condition becomes severe. Talk to your doctor and/or oncologist immediately.
If your dentist sees…Lesions in and around the mouth (such as open blisters and wounds in the cheek cavities)
That could mean…Pemphigus vulgaris
And they might say…Oral symptoms for this autoimmune skin disease can show up nearly five months before they do on the rest of the body. Minimize the risk of infection by thoroughly cleaning any wounds. See your primary care doc or an immunologist.
If your dentist sees…Dry mouth and burning sensations throughout the gums paired with an altered sense of taste
That could mean…Menopause
And they might say…As hormones change during the onset of menopause, physical changes can also occur throughout the body, including in the oral cavity. Dry mouth is one of the most common symptoms; it can alter your sense of taste and increase your risk for cavities because of an insufficient level of saliva. Talk to your dentist about topical gels and prescription mouthwash.
If your dentist sees…Sensitive teeth, eroding tooth enamel, and dry throat
That could mean…Bulimia
And they might say…Vomiting exposes teeth to acidic contents in the stomach and can disproportionately erode tooth enamel on the tongue side of the teeth, causing them to disintegrate. Talk to your GP about getting help.
If your dentist sees…Bumps and lumps in the mouth and ulcers that won’t heal
That could mean…Lichen Planus
And they might say…This autoimmune disease attacks the surface of the skin and causes small bumps and rough skin; however, it typically first appears in the mouth. Gums will be red and inflamed, and there may be small sores as well. See your dermatologist.