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Julie M. Gillis, DDS, PC Blog

Professional Cleanings and Exams – Are They Necessary?

December 21, 2017

Is this mouth healthy? You cannot tell just by looking.

Professional Cleanings and Exams – Are They Necessary?

An alternate title for this might be, “Isn’t it pretty obvious if I have a problem with my teeth or my mouth?  Why not wait I am concerned to have a professional cleaning and exam?”

Your dentist and dental hygienist can determine why the gums look different are positioned differently on the two upper centrals.  This is one of many benefits of a professional exam and cleaning!

Your dentist will be able to tell you if the dark area below this crown is okay to leave as is.

Is the mouth above healthy? Are their conditions that can’t be seen or felt?  Would you be surprised if I told you that there is a problem with the right front tooth? The gums are uneven and slightly red here for a reason and it will take a professional exam and cleaning and an x-ray to determine the reason!

Look closer at the lower left.  Is there a reason the tooth is so black here?  It doesn’t hurt.  These photos are only to help make you realize that you can’t often see what is going on in your own mouth and it is good to have a thorough examination and Professional cleaning as often as necessary to keep you healthy.  Our office knows that there is no substitute for an excellent quality professional cleaning and exam!

This patient thinks they are healthy. Thinks gums are healthy. Are they?

Professional cleanings and exams are a necessary part of your overall health care.  In our office when you are scheduled for these services, we are also evaluating your mouth for signs of oral cancer and other diseases.  We evaluate your jaw joint, your bite, the muscles that make chewing possible and we compare our findings to what was occurring at your previous visits.  And, of course, we check the health of your teeth and gums.

This patient feels their mouth is healthy.  They floss often (see the lines where floss went through the tartar between the teeth?).  They were unaware of bleeding gums and gum disease.  This inflammation could progress to irreversible bone loss between the teeth.  So, even though it is painless, only a dental professional and a thorough professional cleaning and exam can treat this infection.

Even severe gum disease like the photo shown above will be not be painful.   The patient may be unaware of this condition which is easily treated with professional dental care.

If you would like to save money and have the healthiest mouth possible, it is necessary to do these things:

  • Brush and floss your teeth (or do something that is as good as brushing and flossing)
  • Eat and drink a healthy diet
  • Visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly

Problems with your teeth and gums are often not easily visible even by a dentist.  Decay (rotting) of the teeth may occur on any tooth surface susceptible to decay and may be below the gums or between the teeth where an x-ray is needed to evaluate for decay.  Tooth decay is painless until the decay progresses close enough to the tooth nerve to cause damage.  Think $$$ and possible loss of your tooth!  Gum disease and periodontal disease is also painless.  We see many people with these diseases that say their gums never bleed and we see bleeding with a gentle puff of air blown on the gums.  It is very easy to miss the signs and symptoms of mouth diseases like cancer, decay, gum disease and periodontal disease!

Our office cares about your health.  Please ask us about any concerns you might have!

Yours for better dental health, Julie Gillis DDS AAACD

Restoring Smiles/Restoring Health

Laser Cavity Detection – Better Even Than Your Mom’s Dentist!

December 14, 2017

Laser Cavity Detection – Better Even Than Your Mom’s Dentist!

The cavity detecting wand is about the same size as a pen!

Some cavities are obvious some are not, but in all cases, it is best to find cavities when they are small and easily treated.  Laser cavity detection may not have been around for your Mom’s dentist, but it is here now!  Cavities, as most people know, are soft or rotten parts of your teeth that require professional treatment so that they do not continue to grow.

Is there decay in this tooth? The laser cavity detection says YES! Your Mom’s dentist and dental x-rays alone would have said no.

The stained areas in the tooth shown here may look like obvious cavities.  They were not soft to pressure.  This is and a very good situation to test with laser cavity detection.  There was no decay! We note the readings obtained with the laser.   We can then compare these readings when you return for other visits and we test the area again.

Testing your teeth with a laser is painless.  We scan the laser over your tooth and see a digital readout of any changes in the density of the tooth below the surface.  Our laser also gives an audible tone that starts when there is a significant density change and increases when the change becomes more significant.  There is a low level where it is okay to continue to “watch” for further changes over time, and a level where the appropriate treatment is to remove the decay.

Laser cavity detection: the laser is small, painless, and easy to use!

When your dentist or dental hygienist checks your teeth for cavities or decay, this usually begins with evaluating your x-rays and looking for areas of decalcification or weakened areas in your tooth.  Your dentist (and your Mom’s dentist)  will look for areas that are different in color from the adjacent teeth.  It should be noted here that cavities do not always change the color of the tooth.  Black or dark areas on your teeth may just be stains!  Your dentist will press on your teeth to check for areas that are soft.  These methods for checking for decay were also used by your Mom’s dentist.  Now we can detect a cavity even earlier with a cavity detecting laser.   Laser Cavity Detection did not even exist several years ago!

We know that cavities can start anywhere on the surface of a tooth.  The most likely place for cavities to start is in the grooves on the tops of teeth, below the areas where two teeth contact, or beside crowns and fillings.  The process of decay may penetrate the softer inner layers of the tooth leaving the surface intact.  So, pressing on the tooth doesn’t always tell you if there is decay below.  In our office, we use a laser like the one shown above to check your tooth for changes in the density of the tooth that would indicate decay below the surface.

The cavity detecting laser noted decay below the intact surface of this tooth. It is easy to see once uncovered and can be treated early!

The  laser cavity detection was used on this tooth and the decay was treated while the cavity was still small.  If decay had been left in the tooth until the surface had become soft, much more of the tooth would have been destroyed and weakened and the treatment would have been at a much greater cost to you!

This might look like decay. Time to test this tooth with a cavity detecting laser. Yea! No decay. We can retest this tooth later to compare the readings.


The laser cavity detection is here now!

We believe in embracing new technology when it is to the benefit of our patients and has been texted to be safe and accurate.  We do this because that is the kind of treatment we would want for ourselves or for anyone we care about!


With early cavity detection, we may be able to treat your cavities with the use of a special carrier like the one shown here that delivers medications and seals the tooth without drilling on it!

Treatment of early decay without drilling on the tooth!

Our office wants to make sure to stay up to date on technology that benefits you.  The laser cavity detection is just one of the ways that we do this!

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, AAACD

Restoring Teeth/Restoring Smiles


Dental Crowns Do Not Bleach

December 1, 2017

Filed under: All Porcelain Crowns,Tooth Whitening or Tooth Bleaching — Tags: , — Dr Gillis @ 7:00 am

Before you bleach your teeth, you should find out if you have any dental crowns or restorations (fillings) in your mouth that may look odd or unmatched after your tooth bleaching is complete.  The reason for this is (insert sparkly boom here!)

Dental crowns do not bleach!

If you want to bleach your teeth and you have crowns on your front teeth, you may need to replace those crowns if you want them to match your newly bleached teeth.  In our office we will tell you what to expect from tooth bleaching and let you know the likelihood that you will also want to replace fillings or crowns for the ideal final result.  We think it is very important that you are aware of this before you start the bleaching process!

Dental crowns do not bleach!

In some cases you may find that the crowns seem to get whiter.  How could this happen?  If, for example, your  crowns are somewhat translucent so that your natural tooth color can show through, they may seem to get brighter as your teeth get brighter.  If you have all-porcelain and slightly translucent veneers the tooth may bleach and the brighter color will show through and make your veneers seem brighter as well.  If your crown or crowns have any metal below the porcelain  or if they are made from an opaque porcelain, they will not bleach.  This is not a problem if you know in advance what to expect with bleaching.

Very successful bleaching result in our office! Our patient is excited to replace the crown that got darker and darker looking as the teeth brightened.

KoR can be very successful for bleaching hard to bleach teeth. But, your crowns do not bleach!

Our patient had tried several types of bleaching systems and none seemed to work for her until she tried KoR bleaching in our office.  Our office has had some amazing success with this bleaching system on our patients that do not whiten with other systems.  We let her know that as her teeth became whiter, her crown would look darker and she would probably want to replace it.  She had already wanted to replace this crown due to the visible margins and the fact that it had never looked “real”.  Please look again in the future to see our final results after replacing the crown!

Which color would you rather have? Maybe someday dental crowns will bleach!

Yours for better dental health

. . . . . and maybe for dental beauty as well!

Julie Gillis DDS

Restoring Smiles/Restoring Health

The Magic of All Porcelain Dental Restorations

November 16, 2017

Before photo: Our patient did not like the gaps present between her teeth or the missing lower tooth. Porcelain partial crowns, veneers and a bridge were the answer.

After photo with all-porcelain magic. Porcelain partial crowns are very esthetic and natural looking.

The Magic of All Porcelain Dental Restorations: Veneers, Crowns, and Bridges.


When all porcelain dental restorations are done well the result can be truly magical!  This blog explores combining all porcelain veneers, all porcelain crowns and all porcelain bridges to restore a smile to be more beautiful yet very natural in appearance.  Porcelain fused to metal crowns were selected for the molars for added strength.

We had seen our patient for many years before she let us know that she wanted to do something to improve her smile.  She didn’t want ridiculous and somewhat unnatural white teeth –  just a full natural-looking smile.  To achieve a result like this requires a talented dentist and dental team and a talented laboratory technician.  Janet has been loving her smile for over six years and the restorations continue looking great.

Janet’s main concerns with her smile were the following:

  • Gap between the front teeth
  • Gaps on the lower right and left especially the large gap on the left that showed when she smiled.
  • Gold crowns showing up at the corners of her smile
  • Dark and uneven color of existing teeth.
  • Desire for long lasting, beautiful teeth with a brighter but natural looking color
  • Desire to show more upper teeth when she smiled

All porcelain dental restorations would help us address all of these concerns.  To assist the lab with providing restorations that would meet all of Janet’s goals we did a series of photographs with different shade tabs.  A video was used to show the lab the play of the patient’s lips over her teeth during speech and wen smiling, laughing, and enunciating several different sounds.  Preliminary study models were taken and a wax up was completed to show the patient what could be achieved and to make custom temporaries. X-rays, and a comprehensive examination verified the health of the teeth and supporting structures.

Before photo – gurm do not show in a full smile and therefore are not a big concern. Porcelain partial crowns, veneers and a bridge were the answer.

The restored smile is much more pleasing and natural looking with the use of all porcelain veneers, crowns, and bridges.

Gum surgery could have been completed to even the gingival height on the front teeth but these areas did not show when she smiled and were not a concern for Janet.  The overall result achieved with all porcelain dental restorations was aesthetically very pleasing and Janet’s care of her restorations and her teeth is excellent.  Because of this the restorations will last a long time.

Our patient did not like the gaps present between her teeth or the missing lower tooth.

See the magic! Porcelain partial crowns, Porcelain veneers and an all porcelain bridge were the answer for this beautiful and healthy smile!

In our dental office, we strive to meet or exceed your expectations.  We always offer a 5-year guarantee on porcelain dental restorations when our patients see our office for regular dental care including cleanings and examinations.  If you are interested in this type of dental care to restore your smile or achieve your goals, our office would be happy to help!  We enjoy offering the best dental care in a warm, caring and comfortable environment.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve you!

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, AAACD

Restoring Teeth/Restoring Smiles


Do I Have Tori? What the Heck Are These Bumps In My Jaw?

November 9, 2017

Filed under: Tori or Dental Tori — Tags: — Dr Gillis @ 6:41 pm

What the heck are these hard bumps in my jaw?

We get asked these questions a lot!  It is a very good idea to get to know your mouth by doing self exams and be able to tell if anything is changing.  I thought you might be interested in a recent email exchange I had with Mamabear.  Note that a true diagnosis should always be done in person by a professional.  These cell phone images are great at showing what condition is the concern.


Mamabear’s initial email:

Sent: Monday, November 06, 2017 12:06 AM
To: Office e-mail <jgillis@juliegillisdds.com>
Subject: Tori?

Hi I have what may be extra bone , I thought everyone had it until it shocked a friend of mine. I can’t find a pic that looks like mine. Can you tell me what it is? Its perfect on both sides. Pics attached.

Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE device


Julie gillis DDS responds:

See left and right images sent by Mamabear of “extra bone in lower jaw” that patient noticed. They are most likely tori.

See left and right images of “lumps in lower jaw” that patient noticed. They are most likely tori.

Hi Mamabear,

The photos definitely have the appearance of mandibular (lower jaw) tori or harmless extra bone on the inside of the lower jaw.  It would be best however to have these evaluated by your dentist (not sure where you live) to evaluate these for sure.  The photos are good to save.  You can take new ones, or better yet have your dentist take photos, and campart the area with another photo in 6 months.  If they seem to be growing quickly, or if you are concerned about any changes, you should have this area evaluated by a dentist or oral surgeon.

If you are in our area, we would be happy to see you!


Mamabear responded:

Thank you so much for getting back to me. Really appreciate it. Im in the San Francisco bay area.

Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE device


From: Julie Gillis DDS

Subject:RE: Tori?

Hi Mamabear,

May we use your photos for a blog post on our website?

Julie M Gillis DDS AAACD

“Caring For and Enhancing Your Smile”

(970) 242-3635 office


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Mamabear’s response

Of coarse. Yeah I hv never seen it like I hv it. I can try n hv a friend take a better pic later today. Ill send that to ya. Like I said I thought it was normal dentists never said anything until I noticed it and asked n the assistant was shocked. She never saw it. I’m not sure if its grown. I dont even notice it, unless I play with it with my toungue. Lol. I thought it was a 3rd set of teeth since the ridges are perfect.

Ill get a better pic for ya today.

Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE device


Julie Gillis DDS responds:

Thank you!  Every office is different, but we include an oral cancer exam every six months during our patient’s cleanings (of course at no extra charge) and then show them anything they have going on that is different so that our patients can also monitor for symptoms.

It is a good sign that your tongue doesn’t really notice the area.  That likely means that the bone has had a similar shape for a long time.  Tongues are very good at pointing out anything that is the least bit unusual and then fussing over it.  Think of a small tooth chip if you have had this or something caught between your teeth.


Julie M Gillis DDS AAACD

“Caring For and Enhancing Your Smile”

(970) 242-3635 office



There you have it!  Selfies helping with diagnosing.  We enjoy helping our patients understand all the conditions going on in their mouths.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and yours!  Julie Gillis DDS

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