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Don’t Let Teeth Grinding Ruin Your Smile

Don’t Let Teeth Grinding Ruin Your Smile

As a dentist in northeast Denver, our team at Northfield Family Dental has seen an increase in patients experiencing grinding and teeth clenching since the pandemic first began.

The symptoms of teeth clenching or grinding (also referred to as bruxing) can include experiencing discomfort in your gums and teeth, as well as the muscles and joints of your jaw. The discomfort caused by chronic grinding can seriously impact your daily life and make eating, drinking, and talking difficult.

If you experience jaw pain for no clear reasons; wake up with your teeth aching and a headache; or have noticed your teeth looking flatter, you may unconsciously grind your teeth, especially at night when asleep.

Patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaws need to seek treatment from their dentist in northeast Denver at Northfield Family Dental. Without treatment, you risk seriously damaging your long-term oral health. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about grinding and clenching your jaw and teeth.

A Subconscious Problem

The bottom and top rows of your teeth are only designed to meet when needed, i.e. when biting and chewing.  If your teeth only meet when eating, you only should spend a small portion of your day chewing.

How are your teeth aligned right now as you read this? Subconsciously, have you positioned your teeth and jaw together. Do you feel tension in the joints of your jaw or along the sides of your face? Assuming you’re not eating at the moment, your jaw should be relaxed and the top and bottom rows of your teeth should be separated, regardless of whether your mouth and lips are shut.

By grinding and clenching more often than necessary, the teeth can become worn down over time, and the muscles of your jaw can become tight and fatigued.

The joints of your jaw – also known as the temporomandibular joints – that attach the lower portion of the jaw to the skull contain a disk, which helps to control how the joint of your jaw moves. This disk can become dislocated or distorted, which can lead to clicking, reduced function, and severe discomfort.

What Causes Grinding?

Stress ranks as one of the major contributing factors behind subconscious jaw and teeth clenching. Considering the strain caused by the pandemic, it’s little wonder that our dentist in northeast Denver has started seeing so many patients experiencing this issue.

Whether concerned over work, health, or family, it’s not uncommon to internalize that stress to manifest a grinding or clenching problem.

Fortunately, regular dental check-ups can help to reveal the signs of clenching and grinding. These signs can manifest as cracked fillings and teeth, worn crowns, and sore jaw muscles.

When identified, patients can begin to receive the types of treatments they need to address their individual problem.

If you grind your teeth at night, you might wake up the next day with sore jaw joints, teeth, or a headache. Our dentist can address these issues by fitting you with a bite guard so that you don’t continue to grind your teeth while asleep. A bite guard helps to protect your teeth by preventing the friction that occurs due to grinding that can wear down tooth enamel and strain the muscles along the jaw.

If you experience issues relating to a sore jaw due to grinding or clenching, we recommend avoiding any type of unnecessary chewing. Gum, for example, repeatedly stresses the areas of the mouth used for chewing, as does eating overly chewy foods like bagels, thick breads, steak, and certain types of candy.

Addressing the Underlying Issue

While our team at Northfield Family Dental can help to treat the symptoms of grinding, the underlying cause of the issue must also be addressed.

Patients need to identify and address the stressors which may serve as the underlying cause behind their grinding. For many patients, teeth grinding can disappear after they address and manage whatever issue has contributed to their increased stress levels.

No matter the cause behind your grinding, our team at Northfield Family Dental is here to help. We will provide the type of compassionate and individualized care you need to restore your smile back to health.

Don’t let teeth grinding destroy your smile. Contact our team today.

Further Evidence Links Gum Disease to Cancer Risk

Further Evidence Links Gum Disease to Cancer Risk

As our patients at Northfield Family Dental probably know, there exists a strong connection between an individual’s oral health and his or her risk of cancer. This association has only grown stronger after a recent long-term study collected data that has provided additional evidence that links an increased risk of cancer with advanced gum disease.

The study, conducted by researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, used data collected from comprehensive exams conducted on over 7,400 participants from four different U.S. states. They study participants took part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and were followed from the late 90s to 2012. During the follow-up period of the study, over 1,600 new cancer cases were diagnosed.

Finding an Increased Risk

Researchers found a 24 percent increase in cancer risk among participants suffering from severe periodontitis, compared to those with either no periodontitis or a mild case of the disease. Among participants with no remaining teeth – a potential sign for severe periodontitis – the increase in cancer risk was 28 percent. The highest risk was observed in cases of lung cancer, followed by colorectal cancer.

When researchers conducted a sub-group analyses, they discovered that patients with severe periodontal disease had more than twice the risk of developing lung cancer, when compared to those without or with mild cases of periodontitis. Researchers also noted an 80 percent increase in colon cancer risk in patients who had lost all of their teeth.

“This is the largest study addressing the association of gum disease and cancer risk using dental examinations to measure gum disease prior to cancer diagnosis,” wrote researchers. “Additional research is needed to evaluate if periodontal disease prevention and treatment could help to alleviate the incidence of cancer and reduce the number of deaths due to certain types of cancer.”

Researchers also noted that their findings were particularly interesting in light of another recent study that found that cancerous colorectal tissue contains the same type of bacteria as normally found in the mouth, including bacteria typically associated with periodontal disease.

Researchers made sure to account for the impact smoking played in increasing the risk for cancer, as smokers are both more likely to develop periodontal disease and cancer when compared to nonsmokers.

“When we looked at data for the people who had never smoked, we also found evidence that having severe periodontal disease was related to an increased risk of lung cancer and colorectal cancer,” wrote the team.

The data collected from the ARIC was especially helpful to researchers because unlike previous research linking cancer risk to gum disease, periodontal cases were determined from actual dental evaluations performed by oral health professionals rather than from self-reporting on the behalf of participants. The dental exams conducted as part of the ARIC provided in-depth measurements of the gum disease caused pockets that had formed around the base of patients’ teeth.

Protecting Your Health

Advanced gum disease, clinically referred to as periodontitis, is caused by a bacterial infection that damages the bone and soft tissue that support the teeth. While previous research has found an association between gum disease and an increased risk of cancer, what links these to diseases remains uncertain.

What this and other similar studies stress, however, is the importance of maintaining our oral health. By practicing better oral hygiene habits, such as brushing twice a day and flossing daily, along with scheduling regular exams at Northfield Family Dental, you can successfully lower the risk for both cancer and gum disease.


A Healthy Smile Can Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

A Healthy Smile Can Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

As if enjoying a healthy, great-looking smile wasn’t reason enough to regularly visit our team at Northfield Family Dental, a new study now provides even more encouragement – avoiding diabetes.

Researchers have found that patients who regularly brush their teeth three times a day significantly reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Researchers also discovered that patients who have developed dental disease or who have lost a significant number of permanent teeth have a higher risk for developing diabetes.

“Our study suggests that improved oral hygiene may be associated with a decreased risk of new-onset diabetes,” wrote researchers from South Korea’s Ewha Woman’s University Mokdong Hospital.

While researchers have yet to determine the exact mechanism that links poor oral health with an increased risk for diabetes, there are a few possible ways the team has identified that may allow poor oral health to contribute to the development of the disease.

The Mouth/Body Connection

As we’ve mentioned previously on our Northfield Family Dental blog, a connection exists between our oral and overall health.

What links these seemingly disparate parts of the body? Inflammation, of course.

Inflammation acts as the catalyst behind systemic disease in the body. Poor oral hygiene causes the inflammation of gum tissue, leading to development of gum disease.

Researchers suspect that inflamed gums allow harmful oral bacteria a place accumulate in the body. That bacteria may then be able to move into the body’s circulatory system and begin to travel throughout the body.

Just like in the mouth, oral bacteria cause inflammation to develop wherever it may travel in the body. That bacteria may then trigger an immune system response, which could then impair the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels.

Unfortunately, proving this type of cause-and-effect relationship between oral health and diabetes remains difficult due to the fact that many factors involved in poor oral health are also linked to type 2 diabetes.

While researchers may not have yet found evidence that poor oral health causes diabetes, they’ve firmly established that diabetes leads to poor gum and tooth health.

Diabetes Impact on Oral Health

The higher blood sugar levels that occur in patients with uncontrolled diabetes can lead to the development of cavities and poor oral health. Many of the same dietary factors – such as eating highly processed carbs – are linked with both diabetes and poor oral health – which makes it difficult to know which disease develops first.

In the study, researchers examined data collected on nearly 190,000 South Koreans with an average age of 53. The information was collected over a three-year period, during which time one in six participates developed gum disease.

The average follow-up period for the study was 10 years. During that 10-year window, roughly 16 percent of participants developed diabetes.

The research team used computer modeling to adjust for known risk factors for diabetes – including age, blood pressure, smoking status, and physical activity.

After adjusting for these known risk factors, researchers found that gum disease was linked to a 9 percent increase in diabetes risk. People who were missing 15 or more teeth had a 21 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.

Conversely, good oral health was linked with a lower risk of diabetes. Participants who brushed their teeth three or more times a day had an 8 percent lower risk for developing diabetes.

The impact of practicing quality oral hygiene seemed to reduce diabetes risk more for younger people than those in older age groups. The data also seemed to suggest that women could lower their risk more so than men by practicing quality oral hygiene, but researchers were unclear as to why.

Start 2021 Off With a Straighter, Healthier Looking Smile

Start 2021 Off With a Straighter, Healthier Looking Smile

As a Northfield Invisalign provider, our team of dentists understand the importance of a healthy, great-looking smile. Whether a parent considering if a child may need braces or an adult who wants to know if orthodontic treatment can provide a straighter smile, you probably have a variety of questions.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions we hear from patients most often as a Northfield Invisalign provider about orthodontic treatment.

How do I know if I or my child needs braces?

By visiting Northfield Family Dental at least once every six months, patients provide our team of dentists the opportunity to exam the current state of their oral health.

For kids, our dentists will check to see how their oral health is currently developing, and what types of future treatments they may need to correct any potential problems. In adults, our dentist can determine how orthodontic treatment might help to correct their smile and improve their oral health.

Some types of problems should be treated at an early age, even before all of a child’s baby teeth have been replaced by permanent teeth. In fact, many parents are surprised to learn that the average age for a child’s first visit to see an orthodontist is seven.

However, other types problems will require waiting until the majority of a child’s permanent teeth have formed before treatment can begin.

For adults, most orthodontic treatment can begin immediately, as long their teeth and gums are in good shape. Adults dealing with severe gum disease or tooth decay may need to first get their oral health shored up before they can begin orthodontic treatment.

What are the signs of needing braces?

There are a variety of signs that could signal that you or a child could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Some of the most common signs include:

  • The premature loss of baby teeth. When baby teeth fall out at too young an age, adult teeth can form crooked or crowded.
  • Adult teeth developed late. When teeth fail to develop on schedule, it can have a cascading effect where teeth that neighbor the gap in a smile begin to shift.
  • Crowded or crooked teeth. The most common reasons adults decide on orthodontic treatment is to correct teeth that appear crooked or that crowd together, making brushing more difficult.
  • Overbite or underbite. Orthodontic treatment can help to correct the types of issues that can make eating and chewing more difficult for patients.
  • Jaw problems. When patients develop issues with how their jaws open and close, orthodontic treatment may help to correct their ability to eat without discomfort.

What are my options for orthodontic care?

As a Northfield Invisalign provider, our team uses clear plastic aligners to help correct a patient’s smile. Unlike traditional metal braces that stand out from the natural complexion of a patient’s teeth, Invisalign aligners allow patients to undergo treatment discreetly and quickly.

Aligners sit over a patient’s teeth and work to slowly move them into their desired positions. Unlike metal braces that require making changes to how you eat and brush, aligners can be removed for meals and oral hygiene.

In addition to being nearly invisible, Invisalign treatment often takes less time to complete when compared to traditional metal braces.

Why should I undergo orthodontic treatment?

In addition to improving the appearance of a smile, orthodontic care can also help to improve patient health. When teeth sit closely crowded or crooked in the mouth, they become far more difficult to properly clean. This can allow harmful oral bacteria to buildup in areas that you can’t reach when brushing and flossing.

When bacteria build up, they contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease. If left untreated, these conditions can cause a variety of problems that could eventually lead to a lifetime of poor oral health.

Additionally, studies have found that individuals dealing with tooth decay, gum disease, and permanent tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic health problems that include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer.

Protecting your oral health does far more than just helping to create a healthy smile. It has the potential of lowering your risk for systemic diseases that could seriously jeopardize your long-term health.

Isn’t orthodontic care just for kids?

Not anymore. With advances in orthodontic care like Invisalign, more adults than ever before have decided to see the difference a straighter, better-looking smile can make in their lives. The number of adult patients we see at Northfield Family Dental continues to grow each and every year.

Don’t let outdated ideas of having a “metal mouth” keep you from getting the smile you desire. Invisalign offers a discreet and comfortable option for straightening your teeth.


Give yourself the gift of a better looking smile in 2021. Contact our office today to discover the difference orthodontic treatment can make to the health and appearance of your smile.


Why Dental Care Matters More Now Than Ever

Why Dental Care Matters More Now Than Ever

As a local dentist that always places the needs of our community first, the team at Northfield Family Dental want our patients to have the information they need to enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime. In our Northfield Family Dental blog, we’ve often covered how our oral health can impact our overall health. The connection between gum disease and health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer have long been established in research. Now, a new review study suggests that untreated gum disease may be indirectly related to the intensity of COVID-19 related health complications. The results of this study further underscore why it’s so important that patients continue to visit a local dentist during these trying times.

COVID’s Connection to Gum Disease

A recent study conducted by a German research team discovered that elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, acted as a significant predictor for respiratory failure and the eventual need for mechanical ventilation for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. When left untreated, gum disease frequently leads to an increase of IL-6.

According to the research team, the results of this show that it is “not an overstatement to conclude that gum disease can increase the risk of respiratory complications in COVID-19 patients.” Additionally, reducing IL-6 levels can potentially reduce the likelihood of complications developing, wrote the research team.

It has already been established by the oral health community that performing a scaling and root planing procedure on patients with gum disease, IL-6 levels can by reduced substantially.

Better Oral Hygiene Can Reduce Complications

In July, a study published in the British Dental Journal examined the importance of quality oral hygiene during the pandemic, since a clean mouth can reduce the bacterial load in the mouth and the associated risk of a bacterial superinfection. Patients who develop a more severe case of COVID-19 show as having higher inflammatory markers and oral bacteria. In the study, researchers concluded that poor oral hygiene could be considered a risk factor for developing COVID-related complications.

If poor oral health can lead to more severe COVID cases, then regular dental care remains an important part of an individual’s regular health routine.

During the initial shutdown in March, dentists were only allowed to provide emergency dental care. Now that these restrictions have been lifted, many patients remain unsure about whether to visit the dentist for routine dental exams and scheduled cleanings. After all, the steps most patients take to reduce their risk for contracting the virus – wearing a mask, reducing their time spent indoors, and maintaining social distancing – remain impossible when receiving dental care. This has caused a significant number of patients to put off receiving the vital dental care their oral health requires.

According to the American Dental Association, the oral health of Americans has seriously declined since the start of the pandemic. Dentists across the country have reported seeing an increase in patients needing treatment for cracked, broken, or chipped teeth. The fact local dentists everywhere are seeing an increase in patients with deteriorating oral health raises concerns for the public’s risk for developing a more severe COVID-related infection.

To help lower that risk and improve overall oral health, patients must continue to receive regular dental care during this pandemic.

You Don’t Need to Worry About the Safety of Dental Care

While it’s natural for patients to feel some level of concern over their health when visiting a local dentist, our team at Northfield Family Dental remain committed to the health and safety of our patients and staff.

Studies have found no evidence that links dental care to an increased risk of a COVID infection. Furthermore, the ADA has publicly stated that dental care remains low-risk thanks to the many safety precautions member dentists have taken to protect their patients.

Your oral health matters, now more than ever. Don’t let any concerns you may have about receiving dental care prevent you from visiting our team at Northfield Family Dental.


Patient Safety at Little Risk From Dental Care

Patient Safety at Little Risk From Dental Care

As your NE Denver dentist, our team at Northfield Family Dental understand the types of questions our patients are asking about whether it’s safe to return to the dentist. Now that we can continue to provide non-essential dental care to our patients, we know that many of you face a dilemma regarding your health – Risk exposure to COVID or receive the vital dental care your oral health requires. Fortunately, you need to make such a difficult decision.

Researchers at MIT analyzed 26 categories of businesses using over a dozen different metrics – such as necessity and crowdedness – to determine which rank as the most essential and safest. Researchers conducted their study to help shape policy decision for federal and local governments regarding which types of businesses should be allowed to remain open and which they consider risky for the public health.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the study seeks to identify the businesses that have the best overall risk to benefit profiles when considering important factors like public health, the economy, and the risk of contracting COVID-19. Only three businesses achieved the classification as “Worth the Risk.”

In addition to banking and attending college, visiting the dentist made the list.

Why is Dental Care Worth the Risk?

To achieve this type of classification, dental care needed to pass certain criteria. First, does it help improve the public health. Yes. Considering how much research has shown how our oral health impacts our overall health, it only makes sense that dental care would be considered essential now that we’re out of quarantine.

Decades worth of research has shown that patients dealing with tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions that include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. These same health conditions are also listed as risk factors for contracting a severe case of COVID-19. Severe cases of COVID are those that requires hospitalization, the use of oxygen, or the use of a ventilator. Complications of severe COVID cases can lead to death.

Obviously, during a pandemic, any steps we can take to help lower our risk of the types of health conditions that can lead to COVID complications are ones we need to further explore.

Second, dental care that lowers our risk for COVID complications is probably not worth it if by receiving that care we become at high risk for contracting the virus. Fortunately, dental care remains safe when the right precautions are taken.

At Northfield Family Dental, our NE Denver dentist takes every precaution to ensure the safety of our patients and staff. Drs. Rogers, Muldoon, and Matheson have implemented a number of safety measures that closely follow and exceed those recommended by the CDC. We’ve taken every precaution to ensure that you can receive the dental care you require safely and without concern for your health.

Finally, researchers considered whether the benefit of any activity was worth the level of risk it presented. When you consider that dental care can lower your risk for a severe COVID case while also being safe and at low-risk for contracting the virus, you can see how dental care would easily pass the test.

Measuring Your Risk

As for the remaining list, researchers used the same metric we described above when classifying the following businesses:


Worth the Risk:

  • Banking
  • Dental care
  • College and universities

Not Worth the Risk:

  • Gyms
  • Cafes and juice bars
  • Bars and indoor restaurants

Toss Up:

  • Salons
  • Retail shopping

Do it Online if Possible:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Takeout Ordering
  • Car repair


Chewing Sugar-Free Gum Can Reduce Cavity Risk

Chewing Sugar-Free Gum Can Reduce Cavity Risk

If you’re conducting a Google search for a children’s dentist near me, you probably already understand the importance of ensuring every child’s oral health continues to develop properly. For the majority of kids, enjoying a healthy, attractive smile requires staying committed to practicing quality oral hygiene at home and eating a balanced diet.

Daily brushing and flossing help to eliminate the buildup of harmful oral bacteria that contributes to the development of tooth decay and gum disease. Eating a balanced diet cuts down on excess sugar, a primary contributing factor to cavities and dental disease.

Now, a new study may have identified a another tool parents have at their disposal to help their kids avoid tooth decay – chewing sugar free gum.

Chewing sugar-free gum can help to supplement oral hygiene regimens like brushing twice a day and flossing daily, as chewing gum produces a similar effect to those important daily habits. However, unlike brushing and flossing, chewing gum doesn’t require parental assistance or supervision.

Based on the data collected in the study, researchers believe that chewing sugar-free gum should now be considered an effective method for controlling the development of cavities in kids.

The results of the study were recently published in the Journal of Dental Research Clinical & Translational Research.

An Important Piece

In recent years, chewing sugar-free gum has started to emerge as a potentially effective strategy for helping to improve preventative dental routines. Researchers have found that chewing gum without sugar increases saliva flow in the mouth. Saliva works as the body’s natural defense barrier against harmful oral bacteria, while also helping to remineralize tooth enamel. Additionally, most brands of sugar-free gum contain antibacterial ingredients like xylitol and sorbitol.

In their review, researchers examined studies published between 1946 and 2018. They successfully identified 12 studies that explored the impact chewing gum had on oral health, specifically tooth decay among adults and kids.

Most of the kids involved in the examined research were between the ages of 4 to 14.

After examining the data, researchers determined that chewing sugar-free gum successfully reduced a child’s risk for developing cavities by 28 percent.

Additionally, no adverse effects were reported in any of the reviewed studies. However, the examined research did contain a few shortcomings, as the sample examined only contained a limited number of children studied.

Regardless of the small sample size, researchers feel confident in recommending the use of sugar-free gum as another preventative measure for helping to protect kids’ long-term oral health.

Chewing Gum a Secret Toothbrush?

Plaque ranks as the biggest threat our teeth face. A sticky biofilm, plaque clings to the surface of our teeth and uses the sugars we consume to produce harmful acids that slowly erode away at our enamel, the strong outer layer that protects the delicate interior.

Chewing gum works to stimulate the mouth into producing additional saliva. Saliva actually helps to neutralize plaque acids, making it one of the body’s best weapons against tooth decay. When combined with a chewing motion, saliva washes plaque away from the surface of our teeth, preventing the harmful bacteria from causing damage to our enamel.

Add in the antibacterial substances commonly used as sugar substitutes in these types of gums and you get an incredibly effective option for eliminating plaque from the mouth.

The science behind chewing gum as a means of reducing an individual’s risk for cavities would also make the habit an acceptable alternative for adults as well. Based on the available data, researchers were unable to say whether adults could also reduce their risk for cavities and decay simply because the studies they reviewed were not focused on adult patients. But the next time you search for a children’s dentist near me, keep in mind just how effective chewing gum could be at protecting your kids’ oral health.  


Study Links Stomach Cancer to Gum Disease

Study Links Stomach Cancer to Gum Disease

As a Denver family dentist, the team at Northfield Family Dental make it our goal to provide patients with the knowledge needed to better protect their long-term oral health. While many patients think of their oral health as only relating to their teeth and gums, decades worth of research has shown that simply untrue.

Over the years, researchers have found evidence that suggests patients who experience tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss all have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic illnesses that include heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer. Now, a recent study conducted in the U.K. has found that patients who reported as having poor oral health, such as bleeding gums or loose teeth, had a 75 percent higher risk of liver cancer when compared to those with a healthy mouth.

While previous research has established a link between cancer and poor oral health, this study is the first time researchers have established a connection between poor oral health and a specific type of gastrointestinal cancer.

The results of this study were published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal.

Gum Disease’s Link to Cancer

Gastrointestinal cancers, or digestive system cancers, rank as a significant problem worldwide. One study conducted globally discovered that approximately 28 percent of new cancer cases and 37 percent of cancer deaths were the result of gastrointestinal cancer in 2018.

Sadly, the number of patients who receive a gastrointestinal cancer diagnosis continues to climb. Among senior populations, researchers suspect a variety of environmental and behavioral factors may play a role in the increased prevalence of these types of cancer.

While other studies have found connections linking gastrointestinal cancers with poor oral health, how big a role lifestyle habits like alcohol use, smoking, and diet play in determining an individual’s risk remains uncertain.

Gastrointestinal cancers encompass a wide range of cancers, including colon, rectum, small intestine, liver, stomach, and pancreas.

In their study, researchers examined data collected as part of the U.K. Biobank project. The complete data pool involved in the study covered over 490,000 adults living all across the U.K. who were between the ages of 40 to 69.

Researchers discounted any data on participants who failed to report sufficient information regarding their oral health or who had a previous history of cancer prior to joining the study.

In total, researchers examined the health records of over 469,000 people, among whom slightly over 4,000 developed gastrointestinal cancer during an average six-year follow-up period.

Of the participants who developed a gastrointestinal cancer, 13 percent reported having poor oral health when the study first started.

After examining other information provided by the study participants, researchers concluded that the participants who reported having poor oral health were more like to be female, younger, and obese. They were also less likely to eat more than two servings of fruits and vegetables a day and were more likely to smoke.

In the study, researchers defined poor oral health for any participant who reported painful gums, bleeding gums, and/or having had lost permanent teeth.

Liver Cancer Risk

An examination of the data collected in the study found no connection between poor oral health and gastrointestinal cancer risk.

However, when researchers looked for signs of specific cancer types, they did find connections between poor oral health and hepatobiliary cancers, a form of the disease that develops in the gallbladder, liver, and bile ducts of the body.

The strongest connection discovered by researchers was between poor oral health and hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer.

Researchers determined that patients with poor oral health had a 75 percent higher risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma.

In the U.S., the number of liver cancer cases has more than tripled since 1980, according to the American Cancer Society.

The ACS estimates that over 42,000 people will receive a liver cancer diagnosis, and over 31,000 people will die of the disease in 2019.

The Connection Remains Uncertain

Despite what their research showed, it remains unclear to researchers what mechanisms in the body link our oral health to liver cancer while not increasing the risk for other types of digestive cancers.

One theory proposes that stomach bacteria could offer valuable insight. Researchers believe it possible that when diseases like cancer attack the liver, it impacts the liver’s ability to fight off harmful bacteria throughout the body. This then allows bacteria to live longer, thereby causing more problems and increasing any potential damage that could occur to the body.

However, what the research does make clear is that visiting your Denver family dentist is a key part to protecting not only your oral health, but your overall health as well. Regular exams and cleanings with your Denver family dentist can lower your risk for gum disease, and all of the disease associated with poor oral health. 

Is Rinsing with Mouthwash Ruining Your Exercise Routine?

Is Rinsing with Mouthwash Ruining Your Exercise Routine?

Visiting a Denver dentistry, you might expect to hear about the benefits brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash have on your oral health. While those habits can go a long way towards preventing dental decay and disease, one of them may be inadvertently ruining your workout.

Surprising new research has found that antibacterial mouthwash can actually limit the cardiovascular benefits typically offered by exercising. The effect mouthwash has on oral bacteria interferes with a complex molecular mechanism that usually sustains the blood pressure-reducing effects provided by exercise.

The results of this study continues to call into question whether the use of mouthwash actually has a beneficial role in helping to protect our health, and whether patients to our Denver dentistry should stick to just brushing and flossing instead.

The Role of Oral Bacteria

The bacteria that grows naturally in our mouths play a vital role in determining our overall health. One analysis of oral microbes collected from tens of thousands of study participants found an association between the bacteria that contributes to the development of gum disease and a higher risk for throat cancer.

Other such studies have revealed the mechanism by which oral bacterium can increase the growth rate of colorectal tumors and shown how oral bacteria can impact our respiratory health. Additionally, research has even linked the oral bacteria responsible for gum disease to an increased risk for dementia.

All of this to say, we have long known the effects oral bacteria can have on our health. However, new research has now sought to focus on the unexpected role oral bacteria plays in positively helping to improve our health – such as how they help us get the most out of cardiovascular exercise.

This is an area where researchers from the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom decided to examine. In their most recent study, researchers discovered how oral bacteria control the blood pressure-reducing effects of exercise and how the use of an antimicrobial mouthwash can interfere with this process.

A Complicated Connection

By now, it’s well established that blood vessels open up during exercise, as the body’s production of nitric oxide increases the diameter of the blood vessel, thereby increasing blood flow to active muscles in the body.

However, what’s remains a mystery is how blood circulation remains higher following exercise, which then triggers a blood pressure-reducing effect known as postexercise hypotension.

Nitric oxide breaks down into nitrate, explains researchers. This marks the beginning of a circular molecular reaction, which, at the end, results in the sustained blood pressure-reducing effects associated with exercise.

“Research over the last decade has shown that nitrate can be absorbed by the salivary glands and then excreted with saliva in the mouth,” writes the research team. “Some types of oral bacteria can use nitrate and convert them into nitrite, an important molecule that enhances the production of nitric oxide in the body.”

When we swallow the nitrates in our saliva, part of the nitrite is quickly absorbed into the circulatory system where it’s turned back into nitric oxide. This helps to maintain a widening of blood vessels, which in turn leads to a sustained lowering of blood pressure following exercise.

As part of their study, researchers wanted to examine whether blocking nitrate’s ability to convert into nitrite by destroying oral bacteria, with the use of mouthwash, would have any impact on postexercise hypotension.

Mouthwash’s Impact on Exercise

In their study, researchers asked 23 healthy adults to participate in two exercise routines. For each of these routines, the participants ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes, while the researchers monitored the participants’ blood pressure for two hours after the completion of the routine.

At the 1, 30, 60, and 90-minute mark following the run, participants rinsed their mouths with either an antibacterial mouthwash or a controlled substance, which was water flavored with mint. Researchers also collected saliva and blood samples from the participants just prior to exercise and two hours after.

Researchers discovered that giving the participants the placebo resulted in an average reduction of 5.2 milligrams of mercury (mm Hg) in systolic blood pressure at one hour postexercise. Conversely, rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash resulted in a reduction of only 2.0 mm Hg.

These results suggest that mouthwash lowered the blood pressure-reducing effects of exercise by over 60 percent in the first hour following the routine and cancelled any benefits entirely after two hours.

The results of this study indicate that oral bacteria provide the main source of circulating nitrite, at least during the recovery period following exercise.


Tips on Teaching Your Kids How to Brush and Floss

Tips on Teaching Your Kids How to Brush and Floss

As a kids’ dentist in Denver, our team at Northfield Family Dental wants parents to understand just how important dental care at a young age is to their child’s long-term oral health development. When parents teach kids good oral hygiene habits at a young age, those habits continue to build and become a foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Learning the proper ways to brush and floss from a young age helps to reinforce those habits, making it more likely kids continue practicing them correctly for a lifetime. Fortunately, parents can teach their kids the proper ways to brush and floss by following the steps below.

Start Brushing at an Early Age

Plaque, the sticky biofilm most responsible for the development of tooth decay and cavities, starts attacking the health of a child’s teeth the moment they first emerge from the gum line. To protect your child’s fragile first teeth, parents need to clean their kids mouth after each feeding.

You won’t need to start brushing until your child develops teeth. Until then, clean your child’s gums after each feeding. Just start by cradling your baby’s head with one hand while using the other to gently wipe the mouth and gums with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze. By staring these habits early, you keep a child’s mouth healthy, making it easier for their baby teeth to properly form without needing to worry about the development of childhood carries or baby bottle tooth decay.

Teaching Your Child How to Brush

Just as with every new skill a child learns, it will take time for them to master how to properly brush. Since young children may not have the skill, attention span, or manual dexterity required to adequately clean their teeth and gums, parents should continue to help assist their child when brushing until old enough to do the job right on their own.

Even though a child may require some assistance brushing until the age of 7 or 8 doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t instruct them on the correct method of how to brush until older. By teaching your child the right way to brush from day one, you help to reinforce how the habit should be done while also giving your child plenty of time to practice over the years as you assist.

Step 1. To properly clean a child’s teeth, teach them to hold the brush at a 45-degree angle pointed toward the gums of the upper and lower teeth.

Step 2. When brushing, instruct your child to gently move the brush in a back-and-forth motion using short strokes that move the head of the brush along the teeth and gums. A child should repeat this process until all of their teeth have been adequately cleaned.

Step 3. Reposition the tip of the brush to place it in an upright position to reach behind the front and bottom rows of teeth. In order to prevent decay, your child must clean both the front and back surface areas of their teeth.

Step 4. Take a moment to brush the tongue. The tongue can easily become a breeding ground for smelly bacteria that contribute to the development of bad breath. A healthy tongue should appear bright pink. If your child’s tongue is whitish in color, then it needs to be brushed more frequently.

When combined, your child should spend at least two minutes brushing in order to properly clean all the areas of their teeth and gum.

Teaching Your Child How to Floss

Like Simon & Garfunkel or Ben & Jerry, brushing isn’t nearly as effective without its pal flossing. Kids need to have their teeth flossed from the moment two teeth connect. Otherwise, plaque can build up in these hard to clean areas, contributing to the development of decay and cavities.

Step 1. Teach your child to hold a short length of floss between their thumb and index finger. Wrap the floss around one finger at each end to gain a more complete control. Make sure not to apply too much pressure when inserting the floss between your child’s teeth.

Step 2. Position the floss into a C shape curve around each tooth and slide it up and down gently along the side of the tooth until it moves under the gum line.

Step 3. Use a fresh section of floss between each tooth to avoid just moving food particles and plaque around.

Step 4. Repeat this process until the floss has cleaned between each tooth.


Protecting your child’s oral health requires teaching them the basics of oral hygiene at a young age. If you have any questions about the best ways to teach your kids how to brush and floss, make sure to ask our kids’ dentist in Denver during your next appointment to Northfield Family Dental.

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