A number of my friends are dental missionaries and visit countries where problems from dental disease are intense. They see adults with many lost teeth and visible tooth damage that can be overwhelming. These dentists provide emergency extractions and care, but wish they could offer long-term help. Some take toothbrushes while others teach nurses to apply fluoride varnish. Any concept must be simple and sustainable since complicated or costly programs will not continue after the team leaves. All this effort is admirable, but we have a gigantic problem, and need ideas that will work for every community around the globe.

American Teeth

Awful statistics that tell us that here the U.S., there is an epidemic of decay in preschool children and 90% of older adults have decayed, missing, or filled teeth. Of course we usually don’t see these problems because they are masked by skillful dentistry. Imagine if we took off the veneers, crowns, fillings, bridges, implants and dentures. We would be shocked by the horrific damage this progressive disease can cause in sixty years. This is not just a problem for distant countries, but something we must all consider. I believe 5 simple steps can help children grow up cavity free, anywhere on the globe.

No More Cavities

This preventive strategy is split into 3 categories. Each will make a difference, but when used in harmony will give greater results.  The concept is to prevent initial transmission of infection, promote healthy bacteria to protect teeth, and apply topical fluoride to strengthen new erupting adult teeth.

Prevent transmission:

1) Prevent mother-child transfer of cavity bacteria

2) Limit infection from toothbrushes or promote other methods of care

Promote healthy bacteria with xylitol:

3) As teeth erupt

4) During preschool years

Apply fluoride varnish:

5) On erupting permanent molars


1. Prevent Mother-Child Transfer of Cavity Bacteria

Regular use of xylitol reduces harmful bacteria and cultivates healthier ones in the mouth. Mothers are usually the carriers of dental infection that transfers from their mouth to their baby’s teeth. Studies show that mothers who consume 5 grams of xylitol daily, during the first years of their baby’s life (as baby teeth erupt) will reduce the chance of decay in their child’s teeth by 80%.

2. Limit infection from toothbrushes by promoting other methods of care

Toothbrushes are infected by a single use, and dirty toothbrushes spread infection. Brushing adult teeth can improve gum health, but not if brushes are infected. Let’s promote brush hygiene and, when appropriate, consider locally available tools, like chew sticks. The Miswak is recognized in many parts of the world as an effective tooth-cleaning device. This chew stick contains fluoride, silica, and resins to help teeth. A chew stick can massage gums and be discarded, or the end of the stick cut off to prevent re-infection at the next use.

3. Promote healthy bacteria as teeth erupt – with xylitol

A pound of xylitol is relatively inexpensive and these granules can be dissolved in water to wipe on erupting baby teeth. Studies show this can lower decay by 90%. This form of prevention is most effective before baby molars erupt (at 18 months). Xylitol promotes good bacteria in molar grooves, where they become reservoirs of bacteria to dominate the mouth. Children with healthy baby molars are more likely to have healthy adult molars.

4. Promote healthy bacteria during preschool years – with xylitol

Regular use of xylitol will help promote healthy bacteria in a child’s mouth. As children eat xylitol candies, like Zellie’s Polar Bears, they ensure their mouths have healthy bacteria before adult teeth erupt during Kindergarten years.

5. Apply fluoride varnish on erupting permanent molars 

Fluoride is last on this list because it has no power to adjust or promote healthy bacteria. Topical fluoride can, however, help strengthen enamel. Even healthy adult molars are soft as they erupt, and at risk for cavities. To give protection, a coat of fluoride varnish will encourage minerals to harden new molar teeth.


Want to learn more about oral health? Click here to sign-up for our monthly e-guide!


Download our latest guidebooks for Ultimate Oral Health:

Zellies Xylitol Booklet Cover     Zellies CMCS Booklet


For more information on oral health and xylitol, please visit all of Dr. Ellie’s web-sites:

Zellies.com – learn more & order Zellies Xylitol Mints, Gum and Candies
Dr. Ellie.com – a great resource for learning more about oral health & Dr. Ellie
Dr. E Oral Health Coaching – articles, resources and videos to help you learn more

Join the conversation online on the Zellies Facebook page!

You may also like

Moms Oral Health Matters

Moms Oral Health Matters

Ask Dr. Ellie: Granular Xylitol

Ask Dr. Ellie: Granular Xylitol
  • Thank you, Dr. Ellie. We have been going every six months as they recommend. It is very expensive, and we do not have dental insurance. I won’t be getting the fluoride anymore unless there is a problem. I would imagine that they would say that they need cleanings, but as to whether they really do, I don’t know.

  • I went back and re-read my email from D’Lish, and they actually weren’t as forthcoming as saying it contained urethane dimethacrylate (UD). They said the ingredients were proprietary. But when asked if it contained UD, I was told ” Urethane dimethacrylate is a synthetic rosin, our D-Lish fluoride varnish contains synthetic rosin.” I think that is all, finally, sorry for the multiple responses. I look forward to hearing your response, but I think you have already answered my question. I have been reluctant to use CloSys with the 3 younger children, ages 6, 9, and 11. Did you recommend that children do the complete system? Their young teeth are pretty healthy. Thank you.

    • Hi Amber. I never promote a “one size fits all” recommendation. If your kids have really healthy teeth and are at no risk – then Closys is probably unnecessary BUT WHY ON EARTH then is your dentist giving them fluoride varnishes? This does not make any sense – and I don’t even care if the Insurance pays for it! They money is only going in the dentist’s pocket and your kids have NO benefit and possibly it will mess with their natural healthy mouth ecology etc.
      The only justifiable reason for ANY dentist office applied fluoride would be because your kids teeth are at moderate to hight risk for decay.
      If these were my own kids and they were prepared to use the Closys – I would get them on the system – to help them become empowered about their oral health -ready to be young adults in College and beyond.
      As for your dental appointments, I would ask if your kids NEED cleanings – and if they say “not really” then don’t have them. It is only money into the pocket of your dentist – cleanings are not a benefit for a healthy kid either.

  • Also, every time we’ve gotten fluoride they gob it on every tooth, all surfaces. They just recommend it for everyone under 18 (or whatever insurance normally covers).

  • Dr. Ellie,
    Our dentist uses a type of fluoride varnish that uses a synthetic resin base, urethane dimethacrylate. I’m hesitant to have them apply the varnish to my kids’ teeth, although we have in the past. I’m under the impression that this base is somewhat similar to that used in sealants ( we haven’t used these).

    • I am not a fan of sealants for many reasons. If you are using the Complete Mouth Care System and have regular protection from xylitol – then you should not need any additional dental treatments. Is there a reason for this varnish? Do they see the start of a cavity?

      • No, this is fluoride with urethane dimethyacrylate as the resin base. Its brand name is D’Lish. I had to contact the company for the ingredients. I mentioned sealants only because it has a similar resin base, I believe. D’Lish dries clear and goes on smoothly. I think this is why they use this brand of fluoride varnish.


        No cavities in the 4 kiddos. We are using xylitol and ACT rinse, but only my oldest child (15), with braces, uses CloSys.

  • Hi Dr Ellie
    Have been on your system for 12 months after battling periodontal disease. My dentist has said my pockets are now down to 1’s & 2’s and my mouth is very healthy indeed. He even says I am possibly doing too much!
    However, he still recommends a deep gum cleaning to remove hard deposits which is very expensive and I do not understand the need for it.

    Please advise as I do not want unnecessary treatment.

    • You may want to have this cleaning eventually – but I think with the progress you have already made, this could wait a while -possibly another year, and this could give you time to get a second evaluation and maybe a new quote from another dentist.

  • Hi Dr Ellie, I have been battling with my teeth for years. (Have been on many medications for ear infections, tonsillitis, sinus infections etc) I have many fillings and 1 crown from 18 months ago and another one being fitted soon. I am so fed up with the continuous fillings. On my last dental visit was told that I needed several more fillings. When is it going to stop. I am 47 and believe my teeth are in dire need of help. Can you please tell me if your complete mouth care system will benefit me and stop any future fillings. Will it help strengthen the teeth that have large fillings or should I have these capped. Will it help capped teeth from getting decay. I am not sure if I shouldn’t just get all my teeth pulled and be done with it. Your reply would be greatly appreciated. I just don’t know what to do for the best.

    • OK – we have to convince you WHY you need to value your teeth and why you must invest in your oral health. I’d suggest you read Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye. My book is an easy read and it will convince you that bad teeth are NOT your fault – plus it’s NOT about flossing and DON’T take the blame yourself. The blame is on the bad advice you have been given all you life!

      Yes, my system will help you! Most of the products are available in Walgreens – or you could order a kit from my online store at http://www.DrEllie.com The kits helps ensure you begin with all the correct products – and then you can take the empty bottles to the store and match them when you need refills! Access to Zellie’s mints and gum may have to be on-line ( depending where you live). But this is easy and quickly effective – just don’t forget the Zellies!!

  • Dear Dr. Ellie,

    I have been following your system for about one year and I love the results. I had been suffering from geographical tongue for the past twenty five years and it’s gone! My tongue is now smooth and free of painful lesions and fissures. After having been repeatedly told by dentists and dermatologists that there was no known cure for that condition, I was eventually prescribed a steroid ointment that helped alleviate the symptoms but could not prevent them. It tasted bad and it was messy to apply. Xylitol is easy to use, tastes great and seems to have cured me. Also, no more morning breath! I still floss though because that’s the only way I can dislodge food particles stuck in between my teeth and underneath the gum around my implant. I wish I had read your book sooner. I am amazed that something as pleasant as xylitol, together with your easy to follow regimen, could make such a difference to my mouth.Thank you!

    • What a wonderful story!! I am so happy for you – and I am so happy that I was helpful to you.
      It was kind of you to take time to share this experience – because I am certain there are others who are suffering with a similar problem. So many oral problems are made more complicated than they need to be. Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your great news! Ellie

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}


    %d bloggers like this: