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Does Marijuana Affect Your Dental Health?

October 5, 2017

Filed under: Customer Service,Dental Health — Tags: , — Dr Gillis @ 4:45 am

Does Marijuana Affect Your Dental Health?

Peace ?

Some of this information is from the January 2016 issue of AGD Impact and from the July/August 2017 issue of Discover

Why should your dentist care whether you use Marijuana?  Because Marijuana can affect your dental health and your dental treatment!

As the use of Marijuana becomes more common, we will continue to see more of the possible side effects.  Thankfully, the legalization of this drug has made it easier for patients to report drug use.  Turns out marijuana can affect your dental health!

  • The rate of decay can increase. We have seen disastrous examples of this in patients using chewables especially when combined with a dry mouth from other drugs they are taking or diseases.
  • Marijuana use may make you more likely to consume sweet, salty, or foods containing a lot of refined carbohydrates and you may be less likely to maintain proper hygiene – a double whamy in terms of decay.
  • Marijuana use may leave a slimy dark stain in the tartar or calculus that forms on the teeth that may be difficult to remove. More slime, more tartar, more bacteria, more gum disease and periodontal disease, and more decay.
  • By using Marijuana, you may be at a higher risk of contracting HIV.
  • Marijuana abuse can lead to frequent vomiting which can severely harm the teeth by acid erosion. (there are some studies that THC can be helpful with nausea from chemo)
  • Long-term use can lead to panic disorders and psychosis. Repeated exposure can negatively affect the areas of your brain dealing with forming memories.  (remember to brush and floss correctly and eat healthy!)
  • And, yes, you can develop a dependence. If you are trying to kick the habit (Yea!) expect mood swings, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite.

Everyone may think they are immune to the risks.  The benefits must be compared with the risks.  Some risks can be minimized by proper oral hygiene (just a friendly tip).  So, what are the benefits?  I’ll have you ask your medical doctor for that one.   It is difficult to compare studies due to how the studies are fashioned and the doses and forms of cannabinoids used.


In the January 2016 issue of AGD Impact the following was noted:

Because Marijuana use can affect your dental health, it is important to be straightforward in informing your dentist about any drugs that you are taking as many can have oral side effects.  Even herbal, medicinal and recreational Marijuana.  Marijuana use has increased steadily over the last 10 years especially among adolescents, who may not really understand the risks.

Please keep this in mind if you are having a dental procedure completed, “Topical application or local injection of products containing epinephrine, which can dangerously prolong tachycardia, should be avoided . . . as they can lead to complications in the operatory (treatment room).”

What does this mean for you?

If you have recently used cannabis, and you are having any procedure that includes either topical anesthetic (a hygienist may use a solution or gel to make your cleaning more comfortable) or a shot and you need to inform the dental team.  Just tell your dentist or hygienist about your recent cannabis use and request that no epinephrine be used for your procedure.  Epinephrine could cause extended time with a high heart rate which can cause problems. Avoid marijuana for at least seven days before a scheduled dental appointment that includes anesthesia.

Not Marijuana

Your health history is confidential and the information you provide should help your dental team take the best care of you.  Let your dentist and dental team know the following:

  1. Recent use (smoking or ingesting)
  2. Type of use (edibles, smoking, both)
  3. How long have you done this?
  4. Purpose (for pain, recreation)?

More information will continue to surface about marijuana use and its affect on your dental health as the use continues and increases.  Our office will try to keep you posted.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, PC

Restoring Smiles/Restoring Health



I’ve been told that I am tongue tied. What is that?

February 21, 2017

Filed under: Dental Health,Diode Laser — Tags: , , — Dr Gillis @ 7:00 am

I’ve been told that I am Tongue Tied.  What is that?

Strong lingual frenum (see white tissue at the tip of the tongue) keeps the tongue from moving normally. She can't stick her tongue out at her brother!

Strong lingual frenum (see white tissue at the tip of the tongue) keeps the tongue from moving normally. She can’t stick her tongue out at her brother!

See blog photos under tongue

Now she can stick her tongue out at her brother and better enjoy an ice cream cone!

Now she can stick her tongue out at her brother and better enjoy an ice cream cone!

What does it mean to be tongue tied?  And is this a condition that requires treatment?

When your dentist or physician says that you are tongue tied it is a descriptive term that means that the ligament that holds the tongue to the floor or bottom of your mouth is attached very close to the lower anterior teeth.  The more correct term for this is ankyloglossia.

Possible concerns of being tongue tied:

  • Difficulty nursing as an infant
  • Difficulties with speech especially the pronunciation of certain sounds that require the tongue to position in a way that is not possible due to the extra attachment
  • Difficulty licking something off your lips
  • It may be more difficult to lick an ice-cream cone
  • Difficulty sticking your tongue out at your brother when needed!


Being tongue tied is usually not a problem.  Sometimes babies that are tongue tied have difficulty nursing because their tongue does not have a lot of freedom of movement.  If this is a concern, a small surgery is performed to remove this attachment so the tongue can move more freely.  It is also possible to have speech difficulties depending on the location of the attachment.  You may have trouble with “S” “F” and “Th” sounds.

The strong attachment (lingual frenum) that created the condition of being 'tongue-tied' was comfortably treated with a diode laser.

The strong attachment (lingual frenum) that created the condition of being ‘tongue-tied’ was comfortably treated with a diode laser.

One way to tell if you are tongue tied is to open your mouth wide and, without closing, try to touch the top of your mouth or your palate with the tip of your tongue.  In our office, we often diagnose tongue tied in patients who never knew that their tongue moved any differently than anyone else’s.  If there is a concern, we might offer to complete a conservative surgery with a diode laser that will free this attachment and offer improve tongue mobility.  The surgery is completed with local anesthetic and the recovery is swift.  There is little to no bleeding involved – which is one of the many things we love about the diode laser.


Dr. Julie Gillis and her dental team in Grand Junction, Colorado provide the highest quality dental treatment in a clean, caring and comfortable environment.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS

Restoring Teeth/Restoring Smiles

Are Athletes More Prone to Oral Health Problems ?

October 31, 2016

Filed under: Customer Service,Dental Health,Occlusion or Bite — Tags: , — Dr Gillis @ 6:13 pm

Are athletes more likely to have oral health problems?

Playing sports may affect an athletes oral health.  Here are some reasons why.

An athletes oral health may be more prone to problems than the general population. I think most people would assume that the answer to the above questions is a resounding No. Actually, the answer is Yes!  Athletes in general, are concerned with their physical health.  For peak performance they need to maintain muscle fitness, eat properly, and they want to look and feel good.

A recent article in “Decisions in Dentistry,” “Managing Oral Health Challenges in Athletes”, October 2016 noted that “The training required of both professional and recreational athletes is physically demanding.  While sore muscles and overuse injuries are common among athletes, oral health can also be adversely affected.”  The most prevalent athletes oral health problems are the following:

  • Tooth clenching that results in excessive and irreversible wear of teeth
  • Tooth grinding or bruxism which also results in excessive wear
  • Tooth erosion which is the loss of tooth structure due to acidic attack as seen in people who drink excessive amounts of soda.
  • Xerostomia or mouth dryness

How are athletes oral health  more affected you might wonder?  One of the major muscles that closes the mouth is called the masseter muscle.  Studies have shown that when large muscles in the legs, arms and back are activated, the masseter is also activated.  We have all seem the ‘grimace face’ of weightlifters and sprinters.  The masseters are contracting and the teeth are touching forcibly which, over time, causes wear of the hardest structure in the body, the tooth enamel.

Severe tooth abrasion has created cupped lesions in the teeth.

Severe tooth abrasion has created cupped lesions in the teeth.

The the same article noted a study linking clenching your teeth with improved body stability.  This may affect participants in several sports.  Our office tries to let our patients know that your teeth could only contact if you are chewing or swallowing. Can athletes maintain the desired stability without clenching?  I would hope so for the sake of their teeth! Chronic bruxism or clenching can also lead to problems with the TMJ or jaw joint, the muscles of the jaw that make all the things we like to do with our teeth and our mouthed possible or the bone supporting the teeth may be affected.  Teeth could become loose or bone may be irreversibly lost.  Teeth, crowns and fillings could fracture.

Tooth erosion depends on the erosive agent and the amount of time that the teeth are exposed.  Competitive swimmers may expose their teeth to slightly acidic water for hours at a time.  Many endurance sports encourage mouth breathing which, of course, leads to a dry mouth (xerostomia) which can lead to increased decay and gum disease.  Plaque forms easier and is more sticky and damaging on dry teeth and tissue leading to problems with an athletes oral health.

What can be done for athletes oral health?

  • Mouth guards may protect the teeth from some of the effects of clenching and grinding.
  • Teeth that have been eroded can be aesthetically and conservatively restored (Ask Dr. Gillis! She would be happy to discuss options with you!)
  • Topical Fluoride treatments help form a protective barrier on the surface of teeth.
  • Over-the-counter fluoride rinses i.e., Listerine with Fluoride can help
  • Chewing gum during exercise especially sugar-free boosts protective saliva production – but use lozenges and gum during sports with caution to avoid choking!

Keep on exercising but take care of your teeth, your mouth and yourself!

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS

Restoring Smiles/Restoring Health


Brighten Teeth With Food!

April 1, 2016

Filed under: Dental Health — Tags: — Dr Gillis @ 4:33 am

Some Foods May Actually Brighten Your Teeth!

Tasty, crunchy and may remove stains on teeth!

Tasty, crunchy and may remove stains on teeth!

Can you brighten teeth with food? Celery is crunchy and delicious and just may brighten teeth and benefit your mouth!  And it’s good for you!  The extra chewing celery requires produces plenty of saliva which neutralized the bacteria Streptococcus mutans that causes cavities.  Additionally, chomping on naturally abrasive foods massages gums and cleans between teeth.

2013-09-08 19.48.28

These delicious Clifton, Colorado pears are crunchy like an apple and scrub the surface of your teeth as you enjoy them.

Strawberries:  This delicious fruit contains malic acid which can act like a natural astringident to remove stains on the surface of teeth.

There are lots of reasons to eat nuts like almonds and walnuts.  These mildly abbrasive foods rub plaque and stains off of the teeth. Yum!  And most nuts like almonds and walnuts are packed with protein and minerals which are good for you.

2013-09-13 15.27.39

Delicious Grand Junction, Colorado apples grown by one of Dr. Gillis’ treatment assistants. Yum!

Apples:  Crisp and delicious, apples stimulate saliva production.  Pears can do the same. Saliva is a natural lubricant, and it can neutralize colonies of bacteria and help maintain healthy teeth and gums.  and the chewing of apples strengthens the jaw muscles.  Eating apples naturally scrapes plaque off the surfaces of your teeth.

2014-08-23 17.58.49Carrots:  Chewing these crisp vegetables stimulates saliva production which is good for the health of your gums, and washes away food debris.  While you are chewing carrots, you are helping remove stains on your teeth due to carrots being mildly abrasive.

There you go, some natural ways to brighten your teeth with food.  Foods will just remove the surface stains though. But so many are good for you and good for your overall health.  To really brighten your teeth our tooth bleaching products really do the trick!  Please ask our office for more information about how to have the healthiest teeth and gums.  We would be happy to let you know if you would be a good candidate for tooth bleaching!

Yours for better dental health, Julie Gillis DDS, PC
Restoring Smiles/Restoring Health
You may be able to brighten teeth with carrots in a variety of colors!

Carrots in a variety of colors!

Dental Floss – Avoid Strangling Your Fingers!

February 3, 2016

Filed under: Dental floss,Dental Health,Oral Hygiene,Uncategorized — Tags: — Dr Gillis @ 6:33 pm

Dental Flossing without Strangling Your Fingers

Our office has found the following technique for using dental floss to be helpful!

Can we eliminate finger strangling from dental floss?

For many people, flossing is just difficult.  Using dental floss is awkward.  It requires good dexterity.  It is a bit messy.  And, sometimes, it hurts!  Not just the teeth and gums either!  The gums may hurt especially if there is periodontal disease present.  The issue addressed here is when the fingers doing the flossing hurt.  A lot of people have complained about this to our office.

The finger strangle problem of dental floss

The finger strangle problem of dental floss

No sore fingers! The solution to painful fingers from dental flossing.

No sore fingers! The solution to painful fingers from dental flossing.

Dental floss tips!  Important flossing notes to avoid strangling your fingers and maintain proper technique:

  • Have fun!
  • Your thumbs and first fingers on both hands should be available for flossing
  • You should use a good quality dental floss, but most will work (if your floss is too thick or rough it may irritate the tissue)
  • Wrap the first or middle finger of one hand with floss over a wide area of the fingertip
  • Do not wrap in just one area as this increases the likelihood of strangling!
  • As you use the floss, continue to wrap up the floss over a wide area of your finger
  • You should be able to pull on the floss without turning your fingertip dark red or purple!
  • Wash your hands before and after flossing to avoid spreading germs to your mouth or to other areas
  • Have fun!

I’m serious, have fun!  You might as well consider flossing fun if this helps you to floss regularly.  Use dental floss every day, once a day, thoroughly to help your teeth and gums be as healthy as possible.  And try these tips to see if this helps you use dental floss without strangling your fingers!  Our office would be happy to answer any questions you have about dental floss or any other dental concern.  We serve patients all over Western Colorado and beyond.  Please visit our Facebook site for more information and fun photos.  Sometimes we post contests there as well.  Phone our office at (970) 242-3635.

Yours for better dental health, Julie Gillis, DDS

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