Brushing and flossing are not enough

I know many people who value their smiles and try to look after their teeth as carefully as possible. The problem is that you can religiously brush and floss, yet end up with ongoing fillings, repairs and other treatments. The blame is usually placed on poor Power Boyhabits, genetics, or defects in teeth themselves. Most people think you cannot stop fillings from aging, that it is impossible to control tartar build up or prevent tooth wear, cavities, gum recession, or periodontal disease. This is simply not true. But the caveat is that only YOU, the patient, have the power to control and prevent the destruction of your teeth and gums.

I interview many patients who have followed traditional advice to brush, floss, avoid sugar and get to their dentist every 6 months.They tell me stories of the ongoing treatments they received, only to end up with false or heavily restored teeth. It may shock you, but dentists cannot control the bad things that happen to your teeth. There is no filling, sealant, or anything in their dental office that can stop the consequences of progressive dental disease. But YOU can!

Dental problems are caused by acidity and dry mouth

Cavities and gum disease don’t “happen” by chance. Teeth do not randomly become weak or cracked. Dental problems are the result of minerals being pulled out of teeth. Often it is acidic bacteria in infected plaque that cause problems, but any acidic condition in the mouth will erode, weaken, and damage teeth. Acidic conditions also foster the growth of harmful acidic-forming plaque and plaque bacteria live everywhere, stuck on teeth but also on your tongue, in the skin of your mouth and even in your nose and ears. Your dental problems will consistently escalate if these disease bacteria are allowed to occupy this living space. No amount of brushing and flossing, not even a professional cleaning, can remove more than 40% of these acidic-forming bacteria from your mouth. As soon as the cleaning ends, new bacteria will land on your teeth and start producing new acidic plaque to harm them, your gums, and the edges of any new fillings- all over again.

Young people and healthy adults usually enjoy alkaline saliva that helps wash away mouth acidity. Unfortunately if your mouth is dry, you will loose this natural assistance. A blocked nose from a cold or sinus infection, a mouth full of braces from orthodontic work, or even sleeping with your mouth open, can make your mouth dry. Many medications (like ones for allergies or heart problems) cause dry mouth as a side effect. It doesn’t matter the reason, dry mouth will always magnify the damage that acidity causes to gums and teeth.

Plaque grows quickly – and even after a cleaning, bacteria will fall out of saliva and begin to attach to your teeth. This is why we must constantly fight back and eradicate disease bacteria from saliva with Zellies and the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System. Studies show that the correct use of xylitol will eradicate 98% of plaque bacteria in your mouth over 6 months.

A scientist called Wenyuan Shi, Ph.D.,is a professor and the Chair of the Division of Oral Biology and Medicine at the UCLA School of Dentistry. Dr. Shi was one of the first people to develop a test to measure the number of cavity-bacteria in saliva. I was excited by his invention, and I sent samples of saliva from 10 of my patients to determine the effectiveness of the Zellies System. (These samples were from people who had been using my system for several years.) Dr. Shi was shocked at the results because all the tests came back plaque-free. He told me only 10% of people, at best, have clean mouths like this! He could not understand how it had happened – but it was great news for the rest of us! Today there are several kinds of these tests that your dentist can perform to count harmful germs in your mouth.

Dr. Shi also created a video to show plaque growing. You may want to fast forward, but try to notice how the “raindrops” of plaque coalesce and how more and more bacteria are attracted to the original group over time. Not everyone likes to think about germs in their mouth – but the reality is that these are the germs that cause cavities. It is not the things that people usually blame – like bad genes, missed appointments or lack of dental insurance ! The Cavity Villain is plain to see – here, in Dr. Shi’s mini-movie!

Dental problems are controllable and preventable with correct daily home care

Xylitol studies have shown that 6-10 grams, eaten in small amounts and frequently during the day will gradually eradicate 98% of the harmful acid-forming bacteria. Zellies Mints or Gum will help to alkalize the mouth and counter the acidic conditions that often occur after eating or drinking.

The correct use of sodium fluoride in oral care products can work harmoniously with Zellies Xylitol products to help repair defective, soft, or weak enamel. When patients use xylitol and the recommended Zellies Complete Mouth Care System, their cavities begin to reverse and gum disease improves rapidly.  Many testimonials we receive show that patients who were diagnosed with cavities or gum disease have been able to reverse these problems in a few months and eliminate the need for fillings, scaling and even periodontal surgery.

Learn More:

The Power of Xylitol
Is Flossing the Best Way to Prevent Dental Disease?
Change Your pH and Improve Your Teeth and Gums! 


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Zellies Xylitol Booklet Cover     Zellies CMCS Booklet


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Moms Oral Health Matters

Moms Oral Health Matters
  • I want to add some ideas for a healthy dental life ( that did not get included by Dr. Ellie) Brushing twice a day, Daily flossing and Maintaining a balanced diet, avoid smoking. I was told these are the best ways to prevent future dental problems

    • Hi and thank you for noticing I left out some things that most people believe are essential for oral health.
      I am a bit different from most dentists!

      I decided years ago that I wanted to find a cure for dental problems, and I was not satisfied with the old mantra to “brush and floss” because it does not work. I know it is shocking, but there is NO science to show flossing can prevent cavities and if you want to improve periodontal health, flossing has been shown to have NO advantage over good brushing.

      I suggest we think more about infection transmission, toothbrushes ( which get infected after one use – and microscopes show this) and also we must consider the whole mouth as an ecosystem, not imagine that a dental cleaning can “clean” teeth ( from a bacterial point of view). It is impossible to get teeth bacterially clean.

      Bacteria and proteins are natural mouth “ingredients” that weave together for form a protective film that covers teeth (and this film is either healthy and protective or infected with unhealthy bacteria that puff it up into what we call plaque). It’s necessary for this film to cover teeth and also necessary that it contains healthy bacteria so they can protect our teeth from infection (cavities), thermal damage (sensitivity) and erosion (wear and darkening). Without this healthy and protective film, you are at risk for cavities, sensitivity, discolored, and broken teeth.

      The first priority ( points 1 and 2 below) are ways to control mouth bacteria and eliminate infection:
      1) xylitol, limit mouth acidity, and use of fermented food and/or probiotics
      2) good selection of home oral care products – you pay in the long term if you get “whatever’s on sale”
      3) Yes, nutrition is important for health, saliva health, and gum healing – but healing can only occur after infection is controlled. This is why the number one priority is to control cavity and gum disease bacteria – then good nutrition will help the tissues heal for a healthy mouth).

      I hope this explains why I apparently “left out” things you have been trained to think are important for oral health.

  • I have been using this system without the xylitol. I have not had a cavity in 2 years. I have noticed I still have gum recession. Will incorporating the xylitol help with this?

    • Hi Ann, gum recession is usually caused by too much mouth acidity. Regular use of Zellies helps to curb acidity after eating ( when you have a mint or gum at the end of every meal) and also if your mouth is dry. This is how xylitol can help.

      Also you may want to consider a month or two of oral Probiotics ( Garden of Life – Probiotic Smile) and xylitol feeds these helpful bacteria in your mouth – a second benefit when you are trying to develop a healthy mouth ecology.

      Also ensure you brush your gums ( more than your teeth) especially around any recession areas. It is the blood supply in your pink gums that brings cells and “ingredients” for gum repair. Try to stimulate circulation- so check you are not using a toothbrush that is too soft. Disinfect your toothbrush daily. Finally consider giving up flossing in this area for a month and see if that helps your gums to grow back.
      Hope these ideas are helpful. Ellie

  • Hi Dr. Ellie,

    I’m really miserable right now. I’m a 26 year old woman, diligent about brushing and flossing. I had my first root canal when I was 10. Have had a couple more since then. I had 2 teeth extracted earlier this year due to tooth decay, and have cavities in several others that need to be filled. Two weeks ago, I started the process of getting implants, one of them failed because of gum tissue growth in the implant hole during the healing process, I also have an infection there and am on antibiotics to clear it up. I’ve been asked to rinse with Peridex mouthwash. I’m SO eager to start your system, would it be advisable to wait until I use up the Peridex to start? Also, do you think your system will work for someone like me with advanced dental issues (multiple root canals, extractions, etc.)?

    I heard about xylitol about a month ago, went and bought some Xyla candies, manufacturer is Xylitol USA. I just found out about your system a couple days ago, and would like to order Zellies, but want to use up my Xyla candies first. I know its important to follow your system exactly, but is it ok to use my xyla candies before purchasing zellies? Will it have the same effect as long as I’m getting atleast 6 grams a day?

    Thank you so much for being so generous and sharing this valuable information with everyone, I wish I knew about it all those years when I was without dental insurance and ended up with so much damage! I’m EXTREMELY hopeful that this will finally bring an end to years of getting bad news at the dentist.


    • Hi Su,

      I am so sorry to hear your horror story. I guess it proves my point that flossing and brushing cannot balance or correct the disease that has been in your mouth since you were in Kindergarten. Fillings do not stop this disease and neither do cleanings at the dentist. A course of antibiotics will wipe out all your bacteria as a temporary Band-Aid, but you need to focus on developing a healthy “garden” of good bacteria in your mouth. Healthy biofilm will work to protect your mouth health.

      Start using xylitol ASAP. You need at least 6.5 grams a day and at five or more separate times – after all meals and drinks. You can use any xylitol you like – but be aware that not all xylitol is equal. The laws of labels allow companies to “round up” the amount of xylitol in a piece of gum. For example. the nutrition label may say 1 gram – but actually only have 0.7 grams in each piece. This is normal in the industry – and since xylitol is expensive – many companies use this system to look better than they actually are.

      Zellies is committed to oral health. Our products will never trick you like this. In fact, our Polar Bears actually have 1.3 grams of xylitol in each Polar Bear – but if you look at the nutrition label it will only show 1 gram ( because the law says we have to “round down”). I doubt you will find any other company that does what Zellies does! These Polar Bears were created to help kids mend their teeth – and I want them to be successful.

      Yes, you can heal your mouth and you must start today! The products I recommend are precise, and you have to use the system EXACTLY as described. Read about the products and make sure you have the correct ones – or this will not work. Personally I recommend you get Zellies mints and gum. The other problem with some competitor products is they add glycerin to their gum and mints – and this may inactivate healing.

      Please keep in touch and let us know how this is working for you. You CAN change your oral health – and it only takes a few weeks once you get going.
      Read and learn as much as you can from this blog about snacking, sipping damage, drinks, acidity, Probiotics, etc.etc. but begin by getting the products and experiencing the amazing clean feeling that come from using the correct oral care products. NO – put the Peridex away. Ugh…..!

  • Hi Dr. Ellie,

    I appreciate your work so much and am happy to have ways to not only control but even reverse the dental problems in our family. I am so thankful to know all this before our baby gets his first teeth!

    My question is about brushing. I believe I understand your writings – that brushing isn’t enough but that twice a day with a little Crest Regular paste as part of your system is helpful. However, I was wondering about the effect of additional brushing. We currently have the habit of brushing with water every time we eat (due to conventional advice). I am hesitant to stop brushing after eating because I have noticed how long food can stay stuck on the tooth’s surface otherwise, and I just imagine the starchy things feeding the bacteria and blocking the good saliva from getting into those dangerous molar grooves.

    However, recently I have thought about it a different way and wondered if I am doing more harm than good. Am I brushing away a “biofilm” from the tooth five times a day? And is the recent newsstand article I read correct in that it is bad to brush right after eating because of the acid in my food? And if so, is ending my meal with dairy sufficient to prevent harm from immediately brushing afterward? I know you mention salt water or Cloysis before brushing, but I know I can’t get my husband or kids to do that after each meal!

    Please help me settle this dilemma – I am very confused and don’t know what is true. I would really value your opinion on it.

    Thank you very much,


    PS – When is your new book on nutrition coming out? I am very interested and can’t wait to buy a copy.

    • The idea of “cleaning” teeth after eating is an excellent one. Ending with dairy will help you to do this, and so will rinsing your mouth with water. Eating xylitol will achieve the same “cleaning” effect – but I understand your question. You may want to actually check the pH of your mouths before brushing for a few occasions, and your kids may enjoy testing their saliva with pH testing paper. This will give you peace of mind, and ensure that you are not eroding enamel with a toothbrush! Erosion will only occur if your mouth is acidic as you start brushing.

      To remove little bits of residual food, a toothbrush can be good – in the right hands. Crest Cavity protection toothpaste is safe, but only use a pea-size amount on your brush. Maybe you want to consider brushing with a few granules of xylitol on the brush? This could be another option.

      Clean teeth are healthy and feel wonderful. I believe the reason that I have so many success stories is that the system I recommend leaves your mouth feeling terrific – and this is a feeling everyone likes – a “perfectly clean teeth” sensation. I work to keep this feeling all day long – and I agree that it is good to train your family to enjoy clean teeth and share the happiness of a beautiful smile!

      P.S. I’m working on the book – thanks for your interest!

      • Thank you for clarifying these issues for me! Good idea to use pH testing paper until I get a feeling for it all, too.

  • Dear Dr. Ellie,

    I understand that you advocate using xylitol as a first line of defence against acidity, dry mouth, and plaque,
    but if a person does not have xylitol available for whatever reason (momentarily has run out of supply, has forgotten to take it with her on a trip, or whatever),
    would it be beneficial to rinse after a meal/snack for 30-60 seconds with just ACT on its own, or with just Closys on its own?
    (As opposed to not doing anything to the mouth after the meal/snack.)

    Do ACT and Closys, used on their own as a sole rinse, make the mouth alkaline and/or reduce plaque?

    Is there any caution about having exposures to ACT or Closys that are *in addition to* the 2 times a day that one brushes the teeth by using your oral care routine? (Too much fluoride, etc.?)

    Thank you for all your good work!

    • OK – so we have run out of all xylitol. Question: what is the best ending to a meal? The answer: You should try to end meals with some cheese, dairy, or some whole milk. If you are lactose intolerant, I suggest you rinse your mouth with tap water. ( I do this when traveling and if I find myself without Zellies). There is usually fluoride in tap water – so use it as a rinse and spit it out!

      ACT does not have the same effect on plaque that xylitol does, but it can be really useful in one situation.
      ACT is absorbed by thick plaque. If you have a child who refuses to clean his/her teeth or a child with braces and their teeth are coated in plaque -ACT can save their teeth! The plaque will absorb ACT like a sponge, so you can give a difficult child the option not to brush, providing he or she will use ACT rinse instead!

      When used as the last rinse used at night, ACT is absorbed by the plaque and held against the teeth in the “plaque-blanket”. In this way the ACT can offer long time protection for the teeth, protecting them from the damage of plaque acids. Of course I’d rather see kids use the entire system, plus brushing and xylitol to eliminate plaque, but sometimes we have to settle for an option.

      It’s good to know that xylitol and ACT work synergistically – (which means the effect of xylitol is amplified by the ACT; and the effect of the ACT is magnified by the xylitol). Most kids love Zellies – and most kids will use a rinse like ACT!

      To answer your question about how often to do the system…I recommend twice a day – with xylitol between – because it should be enough and you will not over-clean your mouth. Some people think they NEED to brush 5 or 6 times a day, but they are usually creating an imbalance in their oral bacteria – and the brushing is not helping – just making things worse. An extra “third” time is fine (occasionally) but it does not appear necessary for ultimate oral health.

      If you are thinking of recommending ONE rinse to a friend who will not use the entire system. If they are young ( under 35) or have cavities, I’d recommend Zellies and ACT. If they have gum disease or are above 50 years old ( because gum disease becomes the main risk as we age) I’d recommend Closys and Zellies. Hope this gives you the guidance you were looking for!

  • Hello! I was wondering whether you have heard of a fluoride rinse called opti-rinse by x-pur. I have no way of getting act fluoride rinse and I’m curious as to whether it is an acceptable substitute.

    • Hi and thanks for your question. I’m sorry but I’m not familiar with x-pur rinse.
      Basically I recommend sodium fluoride at 0.05% ( which is regarded as “dilute” in the world of dentistry). I never recommend stannous fluoride ( it will stain your teeth) and I do not advocate stronger fluoride-for many reasons, including the lack of results.

    • Hi Emelie. If you live in Canada then you can get ACT anticavity rinse at They ship to Canada at a reasonable price.

      I happen to know X-Pur as well (apparently they are the greater Montreal area) and I think they advertise with technical infos in mind. But then I have try many failed products that appear to be attractive in many ways.

      As for ACT rinse, I do know that the sorbitol is a small concern (same applies to Listerine Cool Mint). They do leave a sugary taste in your mouth which would later turn slightly acidic. That effect is anything unlike the effect of xylitol by the way.

  • Hi,
    I also sent an email to you but also read to leave comment on this site. I have devoured even I have found about your mouth care method online and going to read your book. I have read that your mouth care system can reverse periodontis, but what about the horrible dark brown tartar build up? I think your passion to help people with the one thing that can make or break a person is beautiful. Thank you!

    • Thanks for your message – and for noticing that (even after 40 years) I am excited to empower people and provide the hope they deserve about oral health!
      If you have gum problems or tarter build up – it means that your mouth is “infected” and it is “too acidic”.

      Zellies will work to control the acidity in your mouth and also get rid of the infection.
      The mouth rinse system I recommend will make your mouth a healthy place again and in many cases, as the plaque disappears, the tarter will become loose and fall off on its own. Ensure you have a clean toothbrush – and massage your gums twice a day – on the outside and inside surfaces of your teeth.
      Even if you do not dislodge the tarter, it will be easy for a hygienist to remove. Once the tarter has been cleaned away you will be able to stop it from re-forming by staying true to Zellies and the System. Personally I do not recommend a cleaning until you have been using the system for at least 3-6 months. This way you will get the maximum benefit!

      • Thank you very much! I plan to follow your care system to the “T”. I appreciate your time and expertise, I do have a concern with waiting for what I think is dark brown tartar on and in between my front lower teeth. One it looks bad in the slight spacing and two I fearful that it is something urgent. Any suggestions?

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