Q&A Bubbles
Every month Dr. Ellie Phillips will answer your oral health questions as part of the Ultimate Oral Health Guide.


Hello Dr. Phillips,

I’ve purchased the parts to your Complete Mouth Care System and have presented the program to my husband.  He is interested in what type of data you have assembled to support the use of your system.  Do you have actual data – control and experimental groups, etc?  

Sincerely, S.C



Hi S. C,

The answer to your question is in my book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye. In the book I describe how I became interested in finding a way to control dental disease. The book describes the science of cavities and gum disease and explains why people have dental problems. Cavities and gum disease don’t suddenly or mysteriously “happen”. It’s not natural for teeth to weaken, darken, die, or fall out. There are specific risk factors that make it more likely for people to develop cavities or gum disease, and there are ways to minimize, stop, and even reverse this damage, before it ruins your oral health.

Once you understand how risk factors impact teeth, you understand why the biochemistry of my system works. I discovered the effectiveness of this routine in my own practice during my early years as a dentist, long before I saw any need for documentation. I talked with patients about the home care products they used and noticed the outcome they achieved. People with great teeth seemed to use similar products and patients with bad teeth were using other products. It made sense to suggest those with cavities or gum disease try a different home care regimen – and together we observed the results.

Not only does the science “fit” but patients saw the amazing outcome when they followed my directions. Years later, I needed to help people who had no money for dental treatments. Some had been told they had gum disease and needed thousands of dollars for gum surgery, while others needed fillings. I knew xylitol and my system of rinses would help. These people discovered their cavities reversed (by re-mineralization) and their gum disease resolved in a few months. I guess it’s amazing to some people, but many dentists have witnessed these changes and even decided to use this system themselves.

I don’t mind if people listen to me or not. I have no financial interest in promoting specific rinses – yet I spend countless hours telling people about them. I guess I could have decided to re-create the products, brand them, and make this my own “miracle system”.  Instead I decided to be a teacher and let people access these relatively inexpensive products at their local stores. I have offered my help freely through my website and book, working to assist those who need to improve their oral health.

All the products I suggest are respected and have been used for decades, with supporting studies of their own. I cannot do a controlled experiment – and the companies behind Closys, Crest, Listerine and ACT are not interested in promoting what I suggest. The profit margins on their newer and more marketable products are probably much higher than the products I recommend!

I am here to help anyone who wants help – especially those who cannot afford dental treatments. There is a large body of research to support xylitol and the synergistic benefits of topical fluoride. The references and endnotes in my book may be useful if you want to explore the studies. When you understand the science, you see why the traditional dental mantra makes no sense. It’s important which home care products we use, especially if you are at risk for dental disease. The Complete Mouth Care System helps control problematic risk factors and manage demineralization, plaque, and the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria. Xylitol will balance the oral flora and work in harmony with good nutrition to sustain oral health.

I hope this answers your question!

Dr. Ellie


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Zellies.com – learn more & order your Zellies Xylitol & the Complete Mouth Care System
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Moms Oral Health Matters

Moms Oral Health Matters

Ask Dr. Ellie: Granular Xylitol

Ask Dr. Ellie: Granular Xylitol
  • I’ve been doing most of your system, but due to the risk of oral cancer am really hesitant to use an alcohol-based mouthwash like Listerine twice daily. Is there an alcohol free mouth rinse that could be used instead?

    • I understand the concerns about alcohol in Listerine – but this concern is only when LEAVING it in your mouth. You see many people use Listerine as their only mouth rinse.
      I confidently suggest Cool Mint Listerine and the Original version as part of my system of care – and specifically for people about to have chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer. Speech therapists working with these patients have often been amazed at the way my patients managed their mouth health and avoided mucositis and horrible mucositis problems that often occur.
      The most dangerous products for those with a history of cancer are products that strip the mouth of the proteins of natural biofilm – which is the main protection of the mouth. My system will build healthy biofilm – not strip it.
      I suggest people avoid Sensodyne, Colgate Total care, stannous fluoride products (like Pro Health) and definitely baking soda, peroxide and chlorhexidine which all damage the mouth’s natural protection. Diet and avoiding unnecessary cleanings at the dentist are also methods I suggest and which help develop a healthy and strong biofilm protection.
      You also need to avoid the acidity of many apparently “natural” oral care products (Tom’s of Maine mouth rinse has a pH of 3.3) and even dry mouth rinses like Biotene are acidic.
      Yes, this is not a simple choice and it is important to use a product that works and does no harm. From my forty years as a dentist, I can tell you that most women who use the traditional “baking soda” suggestions almost always end up with sensitivity and gum recession, which is very painful.
      I will continue to recommend my complete mouth care system but use it exactly and ensure you use Listerine to “wash” toothpaste off your teeth and only use it till it feels “burn-y”. This may be just a second or two at first – which is OK – but as you develop healthy biofilm you will know – because you will be able to tolerate Listerine for longer. Spit out Listerine and immediately rinse it off your teeth with ACT.

  • Hi Dr. Ellie,
    I have been using your system for 2 years now and have good results. I do have a couple of important questions.

    1. I always have some tiny black dots on the top of my teeth (chewing area). Do you know why or what I can do about them? I think I first saw them after using chlorhexidine gluconate 3-4 years ago.
    2. I have also been using a probiotic that claims to whiten teeth naturally. Do think I should continue or stop this treatment?
    3. There is a toothpaste with activated carbon which is supposed to whiten teeth. Is this bad for teeth?

    Thank you for your help!

    • I am not a fan of oral probiotics generally, and I cannot imagine that they make much difference. I prefer to focus my efforts on digestive health – fermented food, vitamin D, K etc. and maybe spend your money on a digestive probiotic. This may not whiten your teeth – but digestive health, immune system health, and gum (periodontal) health, are closely connected. I’m OK with activated charcoal for tooth cleaning – but when I tried it – it was very messy and I don’t think it made any difference to my teeth.

  • A new study suggests that the link between artificial sweeteners and obesity may be mediated by alterations in gut microbiota, and subsequent glucose intolerance [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13793.html].

    This study does not specifically examine Xylitol, but clearly your system uses xylitol to alter the balance of oral microbes. Is there any concern that a side effect may be altering the cultures in the gut that might negatively impact glucose metabolization… and perhaps be linked to weight gain? (i.e., if this is true of the other non-caloric sweeteners, is it true of xylitol as well?)

    Relatedly, for those who develop a “sweet tooth” and crave sugar after regular use of sugar, are you aware of any anecdotal data about the routine use of xylitol… Do regular users find they have any change in their cravings for sweets? I’m not used to having sweets throughout the day, and am concerned about creating a new habit.

    • This is a great and interesting question – thank you for asking! Xylitol is the exact opposite of sugar and also unlike the artificial sweeteners that damage the gut microbiota.

      Xylitol breaks down to form a short chain fatty acid ( butyrate) in the gut. Butyrate is known to support gut health and xylitol is also digested as fiber and used as a prebiotic food – supporting a healthy gut and oral flora.

      The answer to your second question is that xylitol stabilizes blood glucose and some time around the 1960s was recommended as an excellent product to help overcome sugar and even cigarette cravings. It’s hard to dig up these studies, probably because the mission of that era was to introduce artificial sweeteners – so these studies were buried and ignored.

      The difference between xylitol and all other sweeteners is that xylitol is the only pentose ( 5-carbon) structure. Sugar is a 6-carbon carbohydrate and the artificial sugar alcohols are also 6-carbon. Here is a link if you have time to read about the therapeutic benefits of pentose sugars : LINK

  • I bought a xylitol mouthrinse by Spry. It has alcohol it it. Could I substitute if for the Listerine rinse?
    If I should’nt substitute if for Listerine, should I use it at all?

    • I do not recommend any xylitol toothpaste or mouth rinse at this time because
      a) I have never seen good results
      b) the formulations have not been shown effective in scientific studies
      c) many of the xylitol mouth rinses are acidic and contain alcohol or glycerin
      Perhaps most important of all this is not the best way to use xylitol.

      I do not recommend any product unless it has
      a) produced consistent and sustainable results that I have personally witnessed
      b) has been shown effective in studies
      c) has ingredients shown harmless.

  • Hi Dr. Ellie,

    I have been using your system for about a year now and follow it 100% and have 2 questions:-

    1. Can you damage your teeth by rinsing for more than 1 minute. Sometimes, when I’m rinsing with the Retardex or Flourigard – I’m running around doing other things and may keep the rinse in my mouth for 5 minutes or more. I don’t do this with the Listerine – well, I did it once and my mouth went numb – never again will I do that for more than 1 minute!!!

    2. After cleaning my teeth, my mouth feeling very very dry – but actually there is normal saliva there, but the dryness makes me want to drink water immediately, which I try not to do and wait for at least 1/2 hour before I do. Any advice please?


    • The system I recommend is like a cake recipe – and changing the ingredients or method will give you a different outcome. We discovered that if you want whiter teeth – one minute is the exact time recommended for the Closys and ACT rinsing – not longer.
      It seems that Listerine can be shorter than one minute without a problem – but never longer than a minute. Don’t try to enhance the program by using the products longer – it is more important to go from one to the next without water rinsing and not to rinse the products off your teeth at the end.
      If you don’t like the way your teeth feel – it would be good to have a Zellies mint or gum before bed. Here is a link to the system for your review: LINK

  • HI Dr Ellie

    i sent you a post a couple of months ago re sensitivity on the system. i took your tips with additional zellies doses and i don’t have the problem any more!! I also make sure i have enough probiotics each day in my diet by drinking raw milk and taking Cod Liver Oil.

    Aside from all this i just want to say THANK YOU as your system is amazing. My front bottom 4 teeth were pretty transparent and now they are almost back to normal!! On the 6th March my gums were measured for their recession and i need to make a follow up appointment in July and am pretty sure there is a huge improvement as my teeth feel way stronger. I started your system on the 25th March so it is going to be almost three months and for the first time in my life am looking forward to going to the dentist.

    i also had my clean in March and this is the first time i see no tartar build up behind the bottom front teeth. AMAZING!!!!! I can’t wait to see what the results will be after 6 months and a year and how the gum recession improves over time.

    i follow your system 100% and to any one out there if you in doubt, trust the system. If you stick to it 100%, it definitely works. Since the system i have the tendency to not want to eat outside of normal meal times any more as i hate my teeth not having that clean feeling. Sure it has caused an overall improvement in my diet!

    I live in New Zealand so ordered all my Zellies directly from your Website and i haven’t looked back!

    I still where my bite splint at night but i make sure i keep it totally sanitised each day after brushing it with some Crest Toothpast. Is there anything else i should be doing to keep it clean?

    Thank you once again and i will keep you posted re my recession issue!


  • Hi Dr. Elllie. I have a story for you. My 7 year old daughter has been using your system for the past 5 months (rinsing and xylitol without missing). My daughter was told that she had cavities in addition to the several fillings. Over those five months her teeth stopped hurting and to her, she stated that the teeth felt stronger. We received a coupon in the mail for a local dentist recently, so we thought we would try it out.

    When the dentist arrived to check for cavities, I told her not to use the explorer to push into her teeth. She said I am only counting teeth. When I walked around the dentist’s back, I saw that she was pushing the explorer into her teeth. I told her we did not want that performed. She said that we have to do that to check for cavities. I told her, then do not check for cavities. She then turned her back to me and continued to check for cavities saying I am only checking for sticky spots. I didn’t know what to do at that moment. I was in shock. The dentist clearly was doing her own thing. Afterward while reviewing the x-rays, the dentist said that she saw cavities under her current filling on the x-rays. The dentist later said she was taken aback about what I said, and that she had 9 years of schooling. I explained again about that I didn’t want the explorer used because I have been studying dentistry, and I read a book by a dentist who recommends avoiding that procedure.

    My question is, if this dentist is right that there is a cavity under the filling, can your system help with those cavities? Brian

    • My book, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, came out 4 years ago. A number of people were in shock to learn that teeth can re-mineralize – something they had never heard about before. I learned about re-mineralization in the 1960s. This is nothing new – it is a natural process that occurs every time we eat and drink. Why didn’t American dentistry tell patients about their opportunity to reverse early cavities? Why don’t dentists recommend xylitol as the best way to eliminate plaque?

      I think knowledgeable dentists will be shocked by your story – but I’m not certain how we change this problems about dentists who are not trained in good prevention. I am currently reading a book by a dentist whom I met recently. It’s called Your Path to Healthier Dentistry by Dr. Alex Shvartsman. We agree on most things, and it’s a way to confirm that other dentists believe what I am stating about sharp explorers. You can read his chapter on page 46 about tooth decay.
      As for your question about the cavity under a filling: Without more information I cannot tell you if it can be controlled by the system – but it is possible.
      Always be aware – dentistry in the U.S. is generally about treating things.
      Running a practice is expensive. Most dentists don’t charge enough for good knowledge. They charge for treatment. Here is a link to Dr. Shvartsman’s book on Amazon

  • (At 5 RCs). I get that part, but clearly she didn’t choose the regular crest toothpaste randomly. The Crest Cavity Protection got the second highest flouride absorption rate in an in depth study done some years ago; beaten only by the Sensodyne Pronamel (1150ppm F formula), hence the reason for my previous question. Ironically Crest’s newer flashy Pro Health versions could’nt compare to these 2 in the study!
    Her formula may have some merit, but I would like some detailed explanation to my questions as I believe they are logical; based upon certain studies.

  • Still waiting on a reply to my last question but here’s a follow up 1.
    Most dentists recommend that after brushing, you wait at least 30 mins. before rinsing with mouthwash so as to allow the flouride in the toothpaste to soak into the enamel.
    What’s your view on this, given that you suggest rinsing with listerine right after brushing?

    • In Dr Ellie’s protocol, I suspect the main fluoridation action is by ACT – which comes AFTER the mouthwash.

    • The results of both the in vitro and in situ study that you cite support the effectiveness of sodium fluoride paste to reharden enamel previously softened by an acidic challenge. This is precisely why I support the limited use of topical sodium fluoride in Crest Cavity Protection paste, and suggest ACT 0.05% mouthwash ( which accentuates the remineralizing effect sevenfold).
      We have known for decades that when enamel is remineralized in the presence of “ionic” fluoride after an acidic challenge ( in other words if you use my system – this is when using ACT after the acidic Listerine step) that the enamel will become more resistant to future acid erosion.
      Studies at the University of California ( I think around the mid 1980’s) showed that this effect can lower the pH at which enamel is damaged – from pH 5.5 to somewhere around pH 4.8 ( from what I remember).
      I do not recommend Sensodyne toothpastes of any kind.

  • Dr Ellie – I avoid allopathic medicine like the plague. Yet my poor dental health drives me to modern dentistry. Your approach appeals me – you try to strike a good balance.

    I stay in India where it is impossible to source most of your Complete Mouth Care system. Even Xylitol gums without harmful sweeteners is not around, and neither is Xylitol available OTC. The exception – Listerine mouthwash – I found it.

    What natural alternatives would you recommend for remineralising? Will bone broth work?

    • If you check around, you will discover that sadly few people enjoy good tooth and gum health for life (even those who eat healthy diets and understand the value of whole body health). Problems begin as a small plaque infection, but risk factors that are specific for each individual exacerbate these initial problems.

      You may enjoy reading Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, a book I wrote to help people understand the principle of controlling mouth acidity and using xylitol. If you can find xylitol granules – it is possible to use these as an ending to each meal – putting 1/5th teaspoon directly in your mouth, and preferable to using gum with artificial sweeteners. In India your tap water may be fluoridated sufficiently to use as a natural fluoride mouthwash for after the Listerine step! Just a few ideas. Good luck – even small adjustments that work should encourage you.

      • Hello Dr, thanks for your reply. On looking around I find Colgate Phos-Flur … it has 4.4Mg Sodium Fluoride as active ingredient … is this good?

        Also, I notice, you don’t seem to be a fan of bone broth 🙂

  • Hi Dr. Ellie!
    After years living abroad, I finally made it to the dentist last month and they found I had 11(!) cavities, 2 of which they wanted to fill immediately. Up until then, I had had no pain, only some discomfort in my gums. All of the cavities are between teeth. The 2 that they want to fill are touching each other – 1 is ‘large’ (they gave me no real details), but looked well clear of the root in the xray. They are on my top teeth and the ‘large’ cavity tooth has quite a bit of discoloration (blacky-grey) limited to one quadrant of my tooth. After coming home from the visit, I found your site and started right away. That was about 1 month ago now, and overall my teeth feel great, and my gum pain is almost completely gone. About 2 weeks in, however, my big cavity had a few bouts of aching for the first time. This has made me a bit nervous! I had felt ok giving this a few months to work and then reassess. But do I need to move faster to get this tooth fixed?

    • I am glad you are taking steps to improve your oral health. Cavities are caused by a bacterial infection – and this is why it is essential to have sufficient Zellies/ xylitol each day to eradicate this disease. The Complete Mouth Care System helps to heal and rebuild teeth – but you will not get much rebuilding until the infection bas been eradicated.

      Pain is usually an indicator of problems – but not always. This makes it impossible for me to give you much advice about this one cavity. Black-gray discoloration sounds like either a large cavity or a dead tooth – so something that should be attended to soon. I’d suggest you ask your dentist to fix the worst teeth first. Keep disciplined and use the system, so after one or two of the worst cavities have been repaired, maybe you will feel confident enough to take a break from fillings – and see if you can repair and remineralize the rest of your teeth naturally.

      • Thank you for your answer!! I actually have no filling currently, so am kind of reluctant to break that streak. The pain has been really intermittent and pretty mild, so I think I’ll reassess when I get to the 3 mo mark. I have been getting 10g of xylitol every day and doing your complete system for 1 month now. I was just surprised to have pain start after starting the program. It has subsided again, so I’ll just see how it goes… Thanks!

  • Hi Dr. Ellie – I recently discovered a number of craze lines on my front teeth. I’m not sure how they were caused but now I am very self concious about them. Will your system help to repair these craze lines?

    I have been using the rinses/xylitol consistently for about two weeks now and my teeth feed great. I do find that I have dry mouth when I wake up in the mornings – from sleeping with my mouth open – do you have any recommendations for how to improve this?

    Also are there any foods/supplements I should consider taking to help my teeth?

    • Craze lines often happen when teeth become dry ( consider them similar to dry skin!) Fortunately, just like dry skin, they are very reversible in the early stages. Reversing them is still worth while, but may be more of a challenge if they are stained or demineralized. I’d love to know what you have been using for oral care – especially at night. Often people have this damage because they use acidic mouth rinses – Listerine is the prime culprit!

      My suggestion is to use the three mouth rinses in the sequence that I recommend – with ACT as the final rinse on your teeth as you go to sleep. It is also essential to use the correct Crest (Cavity Protection) paste prior to the Listerine step.

      Avoid acidity by using Zellies mints after every meal, snack, or drink – this will help a lot. The correct products and this correct protocol (to limit acidity) will soon show positive changes in your teeth – but it may take years for the craze lines to go away completely. ( It will depend on your age, and how long these craze lines have been there, what precipitated the problems and your diet, saliva acidity etc).

      If you need more help – just let us know. We’d love to see these go away. You may want to take some photos to compare the teeth now – and then in 3-4 weeks time etc. and then again after you have been helping them get stronger – one year from now! As for supplements – diet is important but I’d rather you focus on taking some good digestive Probiotics ( Garden of Life is a great brand that works).

      • Hi Dr. Ellie – thanks for your help! I think that a lot of the craze lines on my front teeth are relatively recent. And I have noticed that my teeth do seem dry. I have been using your entire system in the order you suggested for approximately two weeks. Could the listerine in your system drying out my teeth? Is there anything to help my teeth from drying out overnight if I sleep with my mouth open? I would love all the help I can get! Thanks!

        • Oh and to add to this – I am 34, and none of the craze lines are stained, they all seem pretty thin and just on the surface of the tooth.

  • I have been swishing my toothbrush in Listerine before brushing. Should I rinse my toothbrush with water to remove Listerine’s acidity before I use it? I know not to rinse between other steps.

  • I have a problem eating xylitol — you might say it is “explosive”! Can I get the same benefits if I just rinse with xylitol but don’t swallow it?

  • Hello Dr. Ellie,

    Thank you for all the help and information that you have provided for the general public.
    Because of you, my overall oral health has improved DRAMATICALLY. You have been of tremendous help to me. I have no doubt your name will be in dentistry books for years to come.

    My sincere gratitude to you.

    Questions that will be informative and helpful for all of your readers:

    1. What are your thoughts on 2 part mixed ‘active’ chlorine dioxide rinse products such as DioxiRinse
    [http://www.frontierpharm.com] when compared to Closys.

    2. What are your thoughts on adding granulated xylitol to the bottle of ACT mouthwash use in your system?

    3. Are there any merits to using an ionic or sonic toothbrush with your system [Dr. Tungs ionic toothbrush & phillips sonicare toothbrushes] or do you advise staying with the mouth watchers nanosilver manual toothbrush?

    • Hi KL and thanks for your supportive comments – I sometimes wonder if I am on the right track with my mission to help stamp out dental disease. Your encouragement is appreciated!!

      I like Closys because it basically interacts with saliva in your mouth during the first 30 seconds – for oxygen release – to deal with anaerobes ( in periodontal pockets) and oxygenate the gums to stimulate healing. The two-part chlorine dioxide systems react as you mix the parts together – (and this is then equivalent to the Closys 30 second mark) but the reaction is in a cup. I’m not sure if you get the same benefits. I have no details of head to head studies, but some of my patients switched to Closys and have never gone back. If Closys is not available then we do what we can with what is available. Closys is in every Walgreens in the US – so people in most areas have access. You must use Closys for 60 seconds or you miss its benefits.

      Adding xylitol to ACT seems a perfectly OK thing to do – and it may improve the taste for those who want some extra sweetness. I have no idea if that helps at all – I’d be interested to hear reports from anyone trying it.

      I have never before recommended sonic or “electric” toothbrushes – but recently I tried the new Phillips Sonicare Diamond and wow- it vibration must help the circulation in your gums! In view of this I now take the position that perhaps an electric/rechargeable brush is a benefit in the morning ( when we all tend to hurry – and it is timed) and then a good manual brush for a great gum massage before bed at night. The two different brushes will help people with difficult “teeth” to reach different areas of their mouths. Each brush will have time to dry between brushing and you will probably have a good chance of remembering which one to use if you consider the logic!

      Thanks again for the questions and best wishes for a Merry Christmas!

  • Hi Dr.Ellie
    I have been using your mouth care system for a few months now. The only little niggle I have is that my teeth feel slightly more sensitive. Could this be due to the regular use of Ultradex mouthwash as it contains sodium bicarb? (I live in the UK so purchased this as per the suggestions made for closys)

    • When people are “using” my system but complain of sensitivity, my suggestions are:
      1. Ensure you are using correct toothpaste. Your toothpaste must contain sodium fluoride and silica ( the products in Crest Cavity Protection paste) but should not contain glycerin – it may prevent re-mineralizaton.
      2. Go from one step to the next with no water rinsing between the steps. If you rinse with water between any of the steps you will have less effect. Don’t even rinse the toothpaste off with water – use Listerine.
      3. Use each of the rinses for exactly one minute – not longer. Initially I suggested longer rinsing – but one minute appears optimal for Closys and ACT. Shorter rinsing with Listerine is OK if you cannot stand the taste, or don’t like Listerine. Even a 15 second rinse with Listerine adds benefit.
      4. Use original or Cool Mint Listerine – never the new formulations.
      5. Give yourself a flossing holiday – and stop flossing for a couple of weeks. If the sensitivity gets better – you may want to stop flossing! Ensure you are brushing your gums well – stimulating circulation in them. Brushing is important.
      6. If none of these apply to you – then I’d want to know more about how you are using xylitol….

  • My mother has been using your system for about 3 months. She is doing everything exactly as stated. No rinsing in between steps and using only the products recommended. Her mouth started bleeding on her cheeks. She said that the Listerine is the cause. She removed it from the system and the bleeding stopped. The bleeding returned when she added the Listerine back into the system. Is there an alternate product that she can use or should she just leave that step out?

    • Hi there. Thank you for your message.
      When someone has bleeding-on-probing (BOP) this makes me think of two important things – see below – but if your Mom dislikes the Listerine step maybe she could try diluting it?

      The most important thing for gum health is to ensure that our daily toothbrushing stimulates circulation in the gums around the teeth – on the inside and on the outside. Sometimes it’s time for a new toothbrush, or maybe a brush that is a better design or a little less soft. I sometimes suggest using two different styles of toothbrushes- since this can break old “habits” and help us reach different areas that we may regularly miss. Some people like to have one sonic brush and the another – a manual one.

      The second thing to consider (if you feel that brushing is not the problem) is your Mom’s nutrition and digestive health. The blood supply that brushing brings to the gums must be rich in minerals and cells from a strong immune system. Probiotics can help – either digestive probiotics ( if she has any issues with digestive health) or oral probiotics. I recommend Garden of life brand – here is a link to Garden of LIfe Probiotic Smile: http://www.gardenoflife.com/ProductsforLife/EXTRAORDINARYBEAUTY/ProbioticSmile/tabid/1890/Default.aspx

      • I forgot some information to clarify what caused the bleeding and added a second post. It looks like the additional post wasn’t added. The bleeding is not on probing but on the inside cheek area. The cheek area is irritated by the Listerine and the back of the toothbrush head causes the bleeding while brushing. She has tried diluting the Listerine by half and the bleeding has persisted. She said that the bleeding goes away when she stopped using the Listerine. Should she use an alternate product or just leave that step out?

  • I have been using your system for about 10 days. I am finding that xylitol in water or in zellies feels irritating to my problem gum areas. Will this improve with time?

    • In order to comment I need to know more about how long you have had gum problems, and more details about them. I also need to know what other oral care products you are using. Most often, it is ingredients in unsuitable toothpaste that cause painful lesions in the mouth. My suggestion is to make certain you are using plain Crest Cavity Protection toothpaste – not other brands ( especially pastes like Colgate Total that contains Triclosan or Crest Pro-Health formulation).
      Assuming you are using the correct oral care rinses and toothpaste – maybe consider a course of Oral Probiotics ( Garden of Life has a nice one) and use this and a careful eating pattern to promote a healthy mouth environment. Here is a link to this product – Probiotic Smile :

      • Thanks for your prompt reply. My gum problem arose from using a tooth powder containing charcoal (fairly gritty). I used it for about 2 months. I did not have gum problems previously. I have been a long-time frequent brusher and flosser. The area of concern is where I have a crown. My dentist says he sees nothing wrong except a lot of gum irritation.

        I am using your program exactly as outlined. I have started now diluting the Listerine 50-50.

        I will order the Garden of Life probiotics. Thanks for your help. Love the book.

  • Hi Dr. Ellie,
    Thank you for your system, which I love and have been following for a year. My husband and youngest daughter also follow your system except for the closys. Will they still benefit? If my daughter repeatedly gets good checkups should I still introduce the closys or should I introduce it only if she gets a cavity? She had cavities, but only in her baby teeth. She has her first set of molars growing in and has yet to get new cavities during the year on your program. My husband has reluctantly been using the system, but has been won over by our daughters passing check-ups. He was wondering if the fluoride in the ACT rinse is penetrating our teeth in an acidic mouth left by the listerine. I couldn’t answer him and was wondering if you could help?

    • This system, when followed, can prevent cavities and help everyone enjoy gum and tooth health for life. My kids have used the system since they were 6 years old – and I have used the system twice daily for over 30 years.

      To answer your question: anyone will benefit from xylitol (studies show even without lifestyle changes (like keeping drinks to mealtimes and limiting juice and sugary items) adults have 40% less decay by eating 5 grams of xylitol daily. Using xylitol in a sensible regimen offers incredible help and protection. Add Crest Cavity Protection toothpaste twice daily, plus ACT rinse, and you greatly increase xylitol’s protection.

      I use every part of the system because, over age 30, we become more susceptible to deterioration in gum health. The system is an insurance against cavities, fillings deterioration, and gum problems ( and we know the impact gum infections have on heart, joint and mental health). It’s not good to wait for trouble and then try and reverse things. It’s better to be pro-active and avoid problems in advance, by preventing them.

      Your husband sounds as if he wants to understand the chemistry of the “system” – so he may enjoy my book, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, which explains how each component of the system functions. Basically remineralization is enhanced when you use dilute fluoride (as opposed to strong fluoride) and acidification of the surface enamel prior to the fluoride, allows the creation of a more acid-resistant enamel crystal – one that is stronger and shinier.
      There is a lot of information about remineralization on the California Dental Association website – which is one of the more advanced and scientifically current dental associations. Check out the CDA 2008 journal listed HERE.

  • Hi Dr Ellie,

    I have just finished reading your book and am amazed by the information in it! Thank you so much for making this information available to the public. I, like so many others, wish I had discovered it sooner!

    I have ordered your mouth care system, and have already started using granular xylitol several times a day.

    I have not had a ‘ new ‘ cavity in my mouth since I was a child, but I have a problem with recurrent decay under fillings. Over the past few months, I have had 5 fillings in my molars replaced with onlays. Unfortunately the decay in these teeth was extensive, and there is not much tooth structure left in all 5 cases. I am very concerned that the decay will recur again and I will have to have root canals – something that I desperately wish to avoid for several reasons.

    Do you think that your system will be effective in preventing this? Can it protect my teeth even underneath the fillings?

    My dentist said that the margins of my old fillings were intact, yet I still had recurrent decay – how does that happen? Is it because bacteria were left under the filling when it was placed? If so, how can I possibly protect my teeth if bacteria have once again been left under the fillings?

    Sorry for the long comment!
    I would be very appreciative of any comment you could make.

    Thank you,

    • The only way teeth “decay” is for cavity bacteria to grow, multiply, and destroy the tooth structure with the acids they produce.
      If you look at decay under a microscope it is a mess of damaged tooth, acids, and cavity bacteria.

      Studies show when these bacteria are totally cut off from a food supply they cannot multiply. This means that a) you have cavity bacteria in your mouth (so you urgently need xylitol) and b) the bacteria had access to a food supply from your diet or drinks. From this, I would argue that somehow your fillings were allowing mouth liquids and cavity-bacteria to travel under your fillings ( even if this was not easily visible).
      You need an effective system to eradicate cavity bacteria – otherwise this will happen again and again. Most fillings need repair every 5- 10 years and 50% of work done in dentist offices is this kind of repair of existing fillings (because nothing has been done to get rid of the culprit disease). You are correct to be concerned! It’s important to:

      1. Use xylitol – five times a day – Zellies mint or gum at the end of every meal, snack or drink.
      2. Drinks (other than plain, non-carbonated water) should be only at mealtimes.
      3. Try to keep water to meal times as much as possible (allow teeth time to interact with un-diluted saliva).
      4. Use the complete mouth care system morning and night.
      5. Check our instruction booklets carefully – details of the method are important ( we have phone coaching if you need help).
      6. Consider digestive or oral Probiotics to assist with the bacterial “transition” – ( we recommend Garden of Life Probiotics)

      You should notice your teeth feel better in the next few days. In 6 months your dentist should notice a visible improvement in the way your teeth “look” – which indicates you have achieved a sustainable balance of health in your mouth. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Dear Dr. Phillips,

    My eight year old daughter has 2 visible cavities on 2 separate bicuspids. One lower and one upper. The dentists I’ve taken her to have suggested root canals and possibly silver caps. She started implementing your complete system for about a week now taking a teaspoon of granular xylitol between meals instead of the Zellies. I’m very hesitant to having the root canals done. It seems too extreme and traumatic for an 8 year old to experience, but at the same time I’m worried if I left undone her problems could worsen. I’ve also added cod liver oil, butter oil and homemade bone broth into her diet. Is it possible to reverse the cavity so that some of the dentin can remineralize? I’d be happy if we could just heal to the point of needing a filling and not a root canal. I’ve read many of the testimonials and have seen that it can take up to 6 months to see progress. What are your suggestions?

    • Any parent who has a child with cavities needs to see cavities as a whole-mouth disease. Xylitol is the only way I know to prevent this infection from damaging other teeth in the future. Studies show 6.5 grams is necessary daily – and less may not work. We also know xylitol is most effective in small doses at the end of every meal. Zellies mints, gum, and Polar Bears are a perfect way to enjoy one gram of xylitol after any meal, snack or drink. This has to become a lifestyle – so try to find a taste your daughter really enjoys – so she is excited to do this.

      While xylitol is working preventively – I’d suggest your daughter begin with the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System every morning and night.This system, combined with the use of xylitol, will ensure her adult teeth are protected from decay. I cannot tell you if this will eliminate the need for root canals in the baby molars – but it will help them. These baby molars usually fall out around 12 years of age, so they still have a few more years to last. At 8 years old, treating these teeth is not really a big deal – but the more important thing is to be confident she will never experience any more decay in the future.

  • I just finished your book and plan to start your system. I wonder if I can continue to use a technique called oil pulling that I have been doing for almost a decade since I first learned about it. It is done on an empty stomach by putting about a teaspoon of oil (olive, sesame, sunflower, coconut — I use a blend) in the mouth, swishing it around and sucking through the teeth for 15-20 minutes, then spitting it out before cleansing the mouth. The idea is to draw out toxins.

    Then I brush with a mixture of essential oils, magnesium oil and bentonite clay … and recently added turmeric to the mix after reading that it helps dissolve hard plaque. Is it ok to continue brushing this way?

    • Thanks for your message. When you have a system that is working – keep doing it!
      On the other hand, if you are using oil pulling because you have dental problems, I’d suggest you stop oil pulling and use the system of care that I recommend – maybe for a couple of months. Then you can compare how your teeth feel – and the mouth rinse system is definitely a lot easier to use!

      I am not here to stop you using a system that works for you. I like to help people with problems, and to explain that anyone can prevent dental disease, even people who have been told otherwise or who have experienced a lifetime of problems. Xylitol is a great tool – and I recommend adding some to your life, eating Zellies mints or gum after every meal, snack or drink.

      If oil pulling works for you – that’s great! I have nothing negative to say about oil pulling, except it is messy and time-consuming. I believe it works well for acute infected gum conditions, but I am not certain if there are benefits for teeth in the long-term. Some people find oil pulling makes their gum/teeth sensitive – in the same way as baking soda. It would be great to hear your comments in a couple of months – the difference you feel between oil pulling vs. using the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System – should you decide to make this change!

      • Here I am back with my comments (and one question) after 2 months of using the Zellies system. I have stopped oil pulling for the time being and stopped bleaching altogether. On the one hand, my teeth feel stronger and my mouth seems cleaner — and my teeth appear to have less plaque at the gumline. But my mouth also feels dry and I have a metallic after-taste after I finish brushing and rinsing. (I suspect it’s from the Closys). My teeth seem to have a blue-grey cast these days (I hope this is “on the way” to white) and I believe I have been losing a filling a little bit at a time.

        I do believe the system is helping to rebuild enamel so I will keep it up for at least another 4 months.

        Now here’s my question: I have been using Xylitol in both granular form and in mints — with, shall we say, “explosive” effects. This can be rather embarrassing, not to mention inconvenient, if I am out when the strong urge to race to the nearest bathroom hits! So I am wondering if I were to rinse with Xylitol dissolved in water — WITHOUT SWALLOWING — would I still get the benefit of using it?

  • Regarding people with acidic saliva (like me), I was listening to an interview with the person who wrote the diet book “The Wheat Belly”. I’m not interested in diets but I started listening when he talked about acid reflux (me again) and how one can have too much acid in the body. Have you read that book? He contends that wheat is a huge problem in our modern diets… for several reasons including causing excess acidity. I’ve been off wheat for a week now. I’ll see what effect it has on my saliva.

  • Dear Dr. Ellie,

    I discovered your system and am looking forward to starting however I live in Germany and cannot find the exact same products. I think I can get Retardex and fluoride rinse rinse but I can’t get Crest. I found 2 toothpastes that seem close and I was wondering which you would suggest.

    Blend-a-med classic (P & G)- INGREDIENTS: Aqua, Glycerin, Hydrated Silica, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Flavor, Limonene, Sodium Fluoride, Sodium Saccharin, Zinc Lactate, CI 77891
    Signal (Unilever)-INGREDIENTS: Aqua, Sorbitol, Hydrated Silica, PEG-32, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Aroma, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Fluoride, Sodium Saccharin, Sodium Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Limonene, CI 73360, CI 77891.

    Would either of these work? Is one preferable? Once I live in the U.S. again I can order your handy kits : )
    Thank you, I really appreciate it.

    • The products I recommend are always the same, because I work from experience and results. I cannot tell for sure, but my hunch is that the Signal paste may be better. I have never found a paste with glycerin that worked – and the sorbitol here should not be a problem ( you’re not eating it). We are always interested to hear outcomes – particularly when you have had a chance to compare the products in Germany with the products here in the US. One gentleman was shocked to find how different his teeth felt when using the recommended (although very similar) products.Thanks for your message.

  • Dear Dr. Ellie,

    I’ve been using your system for a couple of months, and I haven’t seen any mention of this question before…

    After I finish using the ACT rinse, my mouth is flooded with saliva – not just a little bit, but whole mouthfuls. I know you’re not meant to rinse for half an hour afterwards, so I’m worried that my excessive saliva production is effectively the same thing.

    Does this happen to anyone else? Is it a big problem, and what should I should do?

    Otherwise, my mouth is feeling much cleaner, and I’m hopeful of remineralizing the beginnings of cavities that I have, so thank you!

    • Hi and thank you for your question which I cannot totally explain. Most people don’t have enough saliva – so I think you may be lucky to experience this reaction!

      I suggest everyone spits out the ACT rinse at least three or four times at the conclusion of the system. From then on, the idea is to leave teeth alone so they can benefit from the system. I understand your concern, but I don’t think you need to worry. I believe when your mouth becomes more familiar with the “feel” of this new system of care, that this reaction will stop naturally.

      It is great to hear that your oral health is improving – and you can expect to see ongoing benefits! We would love to hear back from you in a little while – to know if this reaction calmed over time, so that we can pass the information to others who may experience a similar problem.

  • I have noticed that the formula for ACT Anticavity fluoride rinse (SKU # 41167 09428) has been changed, and although the SKU # has remained the same. For example, “calcium sodium EDTA” used to be the first ingredient listed, however now on the newer bottles for sale it is close to the last. Since your system was working so well and had led to improved dental health for us, we had hoped to continue doing things the exact same way. However since we can no longer find the same original formula of the above described product, do you know of anyone who still carries it or whether the new formula is just as effective!!! MG

    • Hi Mark – thanks for your message! We did some research and contacted the company that makes ACT. Here’s what they said (as of 7/17/13): “The formula of our ACT Mouthwash Mint has not changed. There was a labeling change only. The inactive ingredients are in a different order but they are in the product in the same amount.”

      Hope this helps! Just be sure you always get the ACT with 0.05% Sodium Fluoride. They have a bigger bottle that is less expensive but only has 0.02% Sodium Fluoride — that’s why it is less expensive. The sodium fluoride is the active ingredient. Thanks again for connecting with us!

  • Dear Dr. Ellie,

    The science behind your system makes sense to me. I am more interested in how your system address alveolar bone loss from periodontal disease. In traditional practice, the periodontist may give you a deep cleaning and possibly surgery to scrape off the disease bone to encourage bone regeneration. Furthermore, a bone graft can accelerate this process. Can using your system regenerate bone loss? If so, how long does this take? Or, when should I expect that my body has done all the “healing” to the extent possible, and that I should look at other options?

    I started using your system after my cleaning, and went back a month for probing… all 2-3 mm. However, none of my pockets ever exceeded 4 mm, which to my shock and dismay, have resulted in some bone loss. I am going to make an appointment to a periodontist for an evaluation, but would like to avoid surgery.

    • To accurately answer your question I need to know more about you, your health, your age, your risk factors ( which are explained in my book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye) and also the kind of products you used prior to when you began my system. I’d like to discover the reasons why you had gum inflammation (a precursor to periodontal pocketing). I’d like to check how you much xylitol you have now and ensure you use all the products and method of my system exactly. I’d like to know if in the past you used baking soda, whitening products etc, and how often you had cleanings etc.)

      Since I don’t know any of these things, I’ll assume whatever damaged your gums has stopped and you now have my system working well (since it appears the pocketing has improved in four weeks). Next you need to consider nutrition. More and more studies are pointing to the connection between nutrition and periodontal health.

      Inflammation in the gums ( which is a collection of inflammatory cells and liquids) create pressure in the tissues between the exterior surface of the gums ( in the mouth) and the bone beneath. This inflammatory pressure causes the bone to retreat and move away from the trouble area.It is important to prevent anything in the mouth from triggering more gum inflammation ( plaque, toxic toothpastes, too much flossing, peroxide etc) but it is equally important to enroll the help of your body and immune system to “clean up” this area in the gums. Only then will the bone begin to grow back.

      You should start a diet specific for reducing inflammation. I recommend plenty of Omega-3s, less carbohydrates, minimal gluten, anti-oxidants ( fresh fruits and veggies) etc. Without digestive enzymes, you can be eating good foods but not benefit from them. Fresh pineapple can help with this – so you may want to add a little to each meal ( just a quarter cup). Pineapple also has bromelain and vitamins helpful for skin and bone healing. Lastly it is important to absorb these nutrients into your blood – and for this you need a healthy mix of digestive bacteria. You may want to add fermented foods (organic yogurt etc) or a probiotic to your diet ( I recommend Garden of Life Raw Probiotics for Men/Women). Assuming you have now focused on ensuring you absorb nutrients into your body every day – the last step is to get these nutrients to travel to the gum tissues. You achieve this by massaging the gums with a toothbrush, creating circulation that brings the blood and the nutrients it contains to the gums.

      Use Closys for a minute. Then start brushing, using a clean toothbrush. We recommend MouthWatchers brushes because they are not too big, not too soft, not too small. Use your toothbrush to massage the gums. You should be on the gums, above where the gums meet teeth. Forget about cleaning your teeth now – massage your gums. You need to do this on the outside – all the way round your mouth – especially in any area where the bone is receding. Use the amount of pressure that you would use if I told you to massage your gums with your finger ( not too soft, not too hard). Work your way around the outside and then inside of the uppers and then the bottom teeth by the cheek side and then behind all the teeth – especially where there are any bone-loss problems. Now brush your teeth quickly – spit the toothpaste out and go immediately to the next ( Listerine) step, then ACT. There should be no water rinsing between the steps.

      I would be very interested in an assessment if you did this for 2-3 weeks before your next Periodontal appointment. Throw everything at trying to reduce inflammation and stimulate natural healing. Of course, rest, sunshine, exercise, reduce stress etc…..they are important too and all part of recovery and healing. Of course I don’t have all the facts, but I seriously doubt that surgery will be either useful or necessary.

      • Thank you for the quick and thorough response. I really appreciate it.

        My dentist noticed some gum inflammation 5 years ago, when I was 25. However my X-rays didn’t show any bone loss, except she wasn’t so sure about this one spot. She mentioned how my gums were a bit redder than normal and that I should take better care of my oral health. The past five years, I basically had 6-month and 1-year cleanings, and most recently every 3 months (since my current insurance covers 4 cleanings a year). During that period, I think a lot of things contributed to my gum inflammation, especially stress related to graduate school, job, lack of sleep, and travel.

        During this period, I also tried a lot of things as suggested by my dentist and hygenist. This includes effective brushing techniques, using a soft toothbrush, brushing tongue, using a mouthguard when i am stressed, gargling in a salt rinse or antiseptic rinse, dry-brushing before normal brushing, exercising, breathing through nose, getting enough sun exposure, etc. She also recommended that I see a periodontist, which I never did. Recently my dentist mentioned using regular Crest toothpaste (less sugar) and chewing on xylitol gum–that’s when I found your website.

        I am thrilled to have found your system and wished I didn’t have to go through my 5-year dilemma if I had found out about your system sooner. My dentist also agrees that the disease has stopped since my pockets are reduced. My gums are now pink and firm. However, she is referring me to a periodontist to make sure. She is also making me keep a food diary to make sure I am getting the proper nutrition.

        Thank you for all your advice. I will definitely add your suggestions to my current regimen. I will also look into Garden of Life Raw Probiotics. (I have tried yakult probiotic drinks, but I think the amount of sugar in these tiny bottles may discount any benefit from these. Many of my coworkers are into drinking or brewing their own kombucha, but these seem to be too acidic for the mouth.) I have hope and look forward to giving you an update.

  • Has anyone expressed an interest in doing a randomized clinical study comparing your system to a standard brush, floss, etc. system? I understand that there is a lot of sound theory behind your recommendations, and a lot of strong anecdotal evidence, but it would be very cool to see a proper study done!

  • Q: Hello Dr. Phillips, I’ve purchased the parts to your Complete Mouth Care System and have been using the routine since January 2013. I have noticed a stain all around and in between all of my teeth. Can you please tell me what has caused this and how to prevent it from happening?

    • Hi Cindi,

      Most often this stain is “dead plaque”. If you had heavy plaque problems when you started this system, the bacteria die off, but some remain attached to “holes” in the cement-covered area of the tooth – close to the gum line. Studies show it takes about 6 months of xylitol to eradicate plaque (92%) and after this, they will not stick to teeth.I advise people to have a dental cleaning about 6 months after starting the program – and this should easily clean all the stain away.

      Be warned, your hygienist may think it is tea or coffee staining – and may recommend baking soda toothpaste as a way to prevent it in the future. I strongly discourage the use of baking soda ( because it appears to lead to severe gum recession) and this includes baking soda as an ingredient in toothpaste. Instead, when you leave your dental cleaning, begin again (immediately) to have some Zellies ( as you leave the dentist office). This will help to keep your teeth clean and plaque-free, so this stain will never be able to return!

      Every once in a while we find someone who has special chromogenic ( color-forming) bacteria in their mouth. These are healthy bacteria, but they can stain teeth. These bacteria stain any teeth that have been denuded of their Pellicle layer. These chromogenic bacteria usually stain teeth after “baking soda” cleanings, or after bleaching with peroxide. The best way to stop chromogenic bacteria from staining teeth after a cleaning at the dentist, is to immediately begin using Zellies mints ( as you walk out of the office). Then ease into the Complete Mouth Care System over a two-week period. Begin by only using Crest Cavity Protection toothpaste – for one week. Add Closys the next week and finally add the Listerine and ACT (together) stage of the system. The Crest and xylitol appear to build the Pellicle layer back, so that it is able to repel chromogenic bacteria and prevent recurrent staining.

      I honestly think it is more likely that you have “dead plaque”, but in either case, be prepared for congratulations on the health of your gums and stay with the program – you should not have any more of staining in the future – just a wonderful and healthy mouth!

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