Q&A with Dr. Ellie: Oil Pulling vs. Fluoride Rinse

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

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Q:

Hello Dr. Ellie, 

I recently found your book. I have suffered a recent decline in my dental health – which I believe corresponds to a battle with sinus infections over the same span of years. 

My dentist no longer knew how to care for my cavity-ridden mouth. I am now under the care of a holistic dentist. She does not promote the use of fluoride at all and has prescribed that I use a hydroflosser. She also recommends daily oil pulling with sesame oil. And, of course, nutrition. However, much of her nutritional plan has me eliminating many foods – including most fruits and all sugary foods – from my diet. In the short-term, for my own physical wellness, this restrictive treatment may be best, but I wonder about the long-term. 

As the patient, it seems there is so much conflicting information that abounds – for doctors and patients alike! I am now taking a very active role in my treatments and ultimately I will make the decision as to which treatment plan is best. Then again, it may be a system of trial and error in the coming months and years as I rebuild my health (of my body and my mouth).

I hope that you take the time to reply to my inquiries about fluoride vs. oil pulling. I’m already being treated for periodontal disease and on track to get many crowns (or onlays), especially in my rear teeth, plus fillings at the gum line. I currently use the non-fluoride toothpaste and a Sonicare toothbrush. 

Thank you for your book and the information and for time.

Warm regards,

Elizabeth

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A:

Hi Elizabeth,

I have the greatest respect for your situation – but I don’t think there is as much conflicting information.

We all know diet and nutrition are at the core of wellness – and even if we cheat and have fun from time to time, it is really important to “feed” our bodies and “nurture” them with good foods that build them up, not break them down. Sugars and acids are the products that “break us down” and good fats, Omega-3s, antioxidants etc – are the “foods” that build us up. Sometimes, if we cannot spend enough time and energy on shopping and cooking etc – we have to rely on a supplement, a nice vacation in the sun etc. to help us build our wellness strength.

In exactly the same way foods are at the core of tooth wellness. You can cheat and have fun from time to time, but it is really important to “feed” teeth and “nurture” them with good foods that build them up and not break them down.  Sugars and acids break down the body, also break down teeth. Often, the same foods that help the body – help gums and teeth. Sometimes, if you cannot control what you are eating or drinking, you need help – this is where Zellies and the Complete Mouth Care System enter the stage!

I think there is a place for oil pulling – but I also have seen it make teeth sensitive.

My attitude to fluoride is guarded – and for the full story you need to read the entire chapter in my book. (click HERE to read the chapter dedicated to this topic in Dr. Ellie’s book “Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye“).

I do not believe we should drink or consume fluoride – but the topical application of two products that are well made and contain the correct fluoride – can strengthen teeth and offer great benefits.

You don’t consume Crest Cavity Protection or ACT – you spit it out after using!

The Zellies Complete Mouth Care System is precise and has been used by thousands of people with enormous success.

The system requires adequate amounts of xylitol – to protect teeth from acidity and loosen plaque throughout the day so the rinses and oral care routines will clean your teeth perfectly without any potential damage from flossing.

Here is a link to the booklet that explains the details: http://issuu.com/zellies/docs/zellies-cmcsbooklet?mode=window

Hope this helps!

Dr. Ellie

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Download our latest guidebooks for Ultimate Oral Health:

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


Zellies.com - learn more & order your Zellies Xylitol & the Complete Mouth Care System
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Categories: Fluoride, Mouth Care, Q&A with Dr. Ellie

Tags: , , , , ,

29 replies

  1. I’ve read your chapter on fluoride and understand your concern with consuming it as opposed to the beneficial topical effects. Wouldn’t that same rationale apply to Xylitol?
    BJ

    • You have understood my position on fluoride but xylitol should not be classified as (in any way) similar. Xylitol is viewed as fiber by your digestion, and breaks down to form butyrate – a short chain fatty acid that feeds healthy digestive bacteria. When a little is consumed regularly it appears to help digestion, especially for people with poor gut health. I knew a doctor who ran a clinic for terminally sick patients – and the first therapy he instigated was a little xylitol in water every day! Enjoy your xylitol!

  2. Dr. Ellie,
    I’m a pediatrician who works in the ER, and am interested in studying effects of xylitol nasal spray on reducing upper respiratory infections in pediatric residents. I have read about how xylitol can decrease bacterial growth, but do you know of any possible evidence of its ability to fight viruses?

    • Hi Jon, I have always recommended xylitol nasal spray for children’s sinus infections and also for kids who have plaque problems and associated post nasal drip or otitis media. I think clearing the nose and mouth of sticky plaque and strep bacteria (at the same time) has significant benefits. There have been a number of studies showing the benefits of xylitol to protect patients from respiratory infections – go to this link and scroll to the section: Nose and Ear; Upper respiratory: HERE
      This next link is to a detailed report by a hygienist who works for the Xlear company, and it is a good overview of the use of xylitol nasal spray: LINK

  3. Dear Dr. Ellie,
    I read your book last summer and since then my family and I have been following your programme. My youngest daughter, who has recently turned three, has always had problematic teeth. When her front teeth erupted they had brown stains near the gum line. My dentist assured me that this happens sometimes. I’ve noticed that two of her back molars have some brown stains on them and one definitely has a deep cavity. It’s very difficult to brush her teeth – she will only let me do for a few seconds, I do try to give her xylitol granules every morning and night. She won’t always accept it, so I put it in her porridge and her water (is this okay to do?). I’ve been doing this for six months now. I also give her homeopathic cell salts every morning – silica and clac.flourica. I’ve taken her to three different paediatric dentists in the hope that she would open her mouth for them to check her teeth. Every time was unsuccessful. Yesterday, I took her to another dentist who managed to open my daughter’s mouth and get a little peek at her back teeth, by which time, of course, my daughter bit the dentist’s fingers so hard, the poor woman was howling in pain. Anyway, the dentist said she definitely needs fillings, at least two, maybe even three, and she said that since my daughter is so uncooperative, she would have to have general anaesthesia for the procedure! Failing that, she said that the only other option would be to strap her down, kicking and screaming! I was horrified. As a family we’re very healthy. We’re vegetarians and we’re very careful with our nutritional choices. Our family doctor is a homeopath and my daughters have never taken antibiotics or any other conventional medicine. I don’t want to go through with the fillings. If I carry on using the xylitol and cell salts, will her teeth heal on their own?
    Please let me know.
    Thank you,
    Mercia

    • Hi Mercia,

      I am always sad to hear about small children with dental problems.
      I certainly feel that treatment of any kind, especially general anesthesia, would be a serious step.
      I am, however, concerned that what you have been doing has not arrested or stopped these problems – so something must change!

      Cavities are a bacterial disease – transmitted from other people who share food or interact with your daughter.
      To get rid of these bacteria you need your daughter to have at least 5- 10 grams of xylitol every day – in about 5 divided doses, and preferably after everything she eats or drinks.

      Sipping drinks – even diluted juices – will cause cavities.
      Healthy fruits, honey, whole grain carbohydrates – all feed unhealthy bacteria of plaque.
      I know of no other way to rid the mouth of these bacteria than with a xylitol regimen.

      It seems that you should increase the amount of xylitol – frequency and amount.
      Perhaps your daughter would let you wipe her teeth before bed with a small cloth and some xylitol on the cloth?
      Obviously your current routine ( over the past 6 months) is not working well enough.

      It sounds to me as if your daughter’s teeth will eventually need some treatment.
      On the other hand, if you could keep her mouth healthy and stop the disease progressing – by age 4 or 5 she will probably have the emotional maturity to cooperate at the dentist. I think this would be a triumph for you both!

      I hope this advice is helpful. I have helped many parents stave off the need for treatment for years and years – but you have to be careful and avoid snacking and constant drinks. Always get some xylitol on these teeth before nap time and before bed.

      I hope this is helpful – wish you were in the US and we would have you on ZellieBears!!
      Best wishes,
      Ellie

  4. Hi Dr Ellie, I was wondering if Chlorhexidine 0.2% would be better than Listerine for a post brushing rinse? In the 2011 study it reduced plaque much better than Listerine and also performed better in the reduced bleeding and reduced gingivitis categories.

    http://www.jispcd.org/article.asp?issn=2231-0762;year=2011;volume=1;issue=1;spage=31;epage=35;aulast=Mythri

    I’ve been faithfully doing your system for five weeks now. Teeth feel clean, morning mouth is almost nonexistent. And I enjoy not flossing!

    Thank you for your efforts and dedication,
    Larry

    • Hi Larry,
      I know there are several studies that show the effectiveness of Chlorhexidine and it is frequently recommended by my dental peers. Personally, I think Chlorhexidine is a “blow-torch” approach which works by “killing” all the mouth bacteria. This approach does not take into account the fact that there are many healthy bacteria we need in our mouths and we do not want to kill!
      I believe our goal is to rid the mouth of harmful bacteria, but simultaneously promote a healthy flora ( a mix of bacteria that will protect our mouth and teeth). The old-fashioned approach is to use antibiotics and strong antiseptics to eliminate microbes – but this does not promote a sustainable state of health.
      After 30 years using my system and recommending it to others, I am convinced this system provides a way to limit disease and at the same time promote oral health. Listerine will also provide an acidic environment for the final ACT rinse. In an acidic mouth environment, ACT helps promote a more acid-resistant enamel crystal, which reinforces teeth and helps them resist disease. Thanks so much for your comment.

  5. I want to do a 14 day water fast so will rinsing and spitting with the xylitol have the same result as ingesting it would? Thanks so much for all your work on dental health. Truly amazing.

    • Yes, you should be fine with a rinse and spit. I do not recommend any of the commercially produced xylitol mouth rinses or toothpaste, so use the granular xylitol to make your own rinse. Xylitol dissolves in room-temperature or warm water and as soon as it has dissolved, it can be refrigerated. Xylitol does not dissolve well in cold water – so make your xylitol solution at room temperature and then refrigerate!

  6. Hello Dr. Ellie. I live in France and do not have a way to buy the pre rinse Closys. What do you think about creating a xylitol mouthwash to lower the pH much like Closys does? I know it will not be the same, but could it be an ok alternative in your opinion?

    • Closys does so much more than alkalizing the mouth – but if that is not available – then salt or xylitol dissolved in water as a rinse would probably be the best idea. Let’s hope we can get these companies interested in finding a way to distribute their products to France, Canada, New Zealand, UK, Germany and the other countries where so many people are trying to follow this system!

  7. Dear Dr. Ellie,

    In terms of making it easy for the reader to navigate around this blog (ultimateoralhealthguide), would you mind seeing if your technical team could add a box in the right-hand column that allows one to see a chronological list of the titles of all the blog posts?

    At the moment, you have boxes in the right-hand column listing “recent posts”, “popular posts”, and “categories”, but I would prefer to look at a list of ALL the posts (not just the most recent 10, or the most-clicked-on 10) by their titles, and choose from that overview which ones I’d like to read.

    At the moment, to read your posts chronologically (actually backwards-chronologically is the only option), one has to scroll down through each post to the end of it in order to find the link (with the little arrow to the left) which opens up the next earliest post. This is so time-consuming.

    There is also no way at the moment to read the posts chronologically from the oldest onwards (which is how I generally like to read blogs, to gain an understanding of their content, especially to see how the information and approach of the author has evolved over time) because there is no indication on your site’s main page or in the right-hand boxes of what the first blog post was, so one can’t click on that original post first and then follow the link at the end of it (the little arrow to the right) to the next-newest, then the next.

    A even simpler way to do what I am requesting (simpler because it would not require listing all the blog titles out or linking to every one of them in the right-hand column) might be to create a box in the right-hand column called “Read the Archive” or similar, and then put a link to each month’s blog posts (such as February 2013, April 2013, May 2013) and let the reader click on any month’s link to see all the posts from that month.

    Thank you for your consideration of this idea!

    • Hi C,

      Thanks for your great suggestions! We were able to add an archive box in the upper right corner. Hopefully this will help. We are also working on building a better category system for the posts to improve organization and access by topic. It is quite a project – so any other feedback or suggestions you may have would be great. There is a lot of information on the blog after posting for over 6 years – it is quite a job to organize it all.

      Thanks for reading the blog! Please let me know if the archive option helps.

      -Dr. Ellie

  8. Hello Dr Elle,

    I have just come across your website and youtube videos and am excited about going out today and getting the products to start on your program! One question I have not found answered on your Q&A or Blog is: Does your program dissolve and/or dislodge built up tartar under the gumline? My dentist is recommending root planing and scaling and I would rather find another way to achieve the results.

    Thanks for all of your information and products!

    Michael

    • People with calcified plaque (calculus or tartar) under the gums (sub-gingival) usually have a bigger problem – germs in the pocket around the teeth. There are 11 kinds of germs to worry about. These are germs often implicated in systemic problems like heart attacks, arthritis, dementia etc. Studies show a cleaning may lessen the number of these germs on the day of the scaling - but their numbers usually increase after the cleaning. Its possible germs may be carried from one area to another on the cleaning instruments or germs may seed themselves. Often a dentist will suggest an antibiotic after the cleaning – but this kills good as well as bad bacteria and can only be a temporary solution. Remember gum disease is transmissible – person to person – and often spreads through families by kissing and sharing food. Make sure to clean your toothbrush and store away from any toilet area. Also read how to control mouth acidity with Zellies – acidity is usually the reason for plaque problems.

      Currently I am a lone voice in dentistry – but I suggest you get your mouth healthy before a scaling and root planing. Use Zellies and my system of home care for two months before this treatment – or any dental “cleaning” for that matter. If the bacterial component is controlled or eliminated – then a cleaning will clean up deposits, stains (dead plaque) and any residue – leaving you ready for a healthy new oral health future (with no more gum/tartar/plaque problems)!

      Gum health is dependent on nutrition (think about diet, digestive enzymes, and gut health). I’d suggest for two months prior to a cleaning, you eat a very fresh, clean diet, incorporate pineapple and fermented foods ( yogurt etc) and take a course of digestive Probiotics (I recommend Garden of Life brand – for men or women.) We need a healthy digestion to absorb nutrients your gums recovery. Ensure you massage your gums when you brush. Gum brushing should stimulate circulation above/below the teeth (on the inside and outside of the jaw). This circulation will bring a healthy blood supply to provide clean up cells and nutrients that will help your gums recover and become healthy again.

      If you decide to take this two month gum challenge – I am sure others would be interested to hear back from you with the outcome!
      Thanks again for the question. Ellie

      • OK! I will give this a go for several months and check back in and give an update. My initial impression of your system is….WOW! What a great feeling mouth! I really enjoy the science of the whole thing and it is a kick to be thinking of what is going on inside of my mouth during each step. Thank you so much. I had to get the available xylitol products from the local health food store to get started but will be buying my Zellies on line from here forward to support your efforts.

        I was never sold on scaling and root planing as the best way to tackle under the gum plaque so I am grateful that you are suggesting another way. As I was doing the internet search that lead me to finding your sites and system, I also came across another interesting product/system for under the gum line plaque removal. It is Periogen that is used with a Waterpic to get the tartar dissolving solution where it can come in contact with the under gum line plaque. Do you have any input on this product? http://periogen.com/

        I know it wouldn’t take the place of your system but I am wondering if it would be a valuable addition to it.

        Thanks for all that you are giving to us! I am very appreciative!

  9. Hi I have just ordered the Zellies complete mouth care system from Advanced dental supplies in Australia, could you tell me how to clean my childrens teeth with these products please, they are aged 3yrs (no cavaties as far as I know) 5yrs (2 abscessed teeth and further 2 small cavaties) and 7yrs ( 3 small cavaties. I have started using xylitol 100% mints from Xclear and the xylitol tooth gel and mouth wash from the same company. I have also ordered some Green Patures royal blend, I’ve been making bone broth and increased thier consumption of yoghurt, cheese and vegetables and minimizing the amount of fruit and trying to eliminating as much sugar out of our diet is there anything else you would recomend that I should be doing to improve our dental health? any advice would be greatly appriciated
    Kind Regards
    Donna

    • A 3 year old without cavities probably needs nothing more than a nourishing diet and enough xylitol to eliminate plaque.
      Your 5 and 7 years olds obviously have active decay and will benefit from the rinse system – if they will be compliant. You may want to try this system yourself first – so you can coach your kids – knowing the way it makes your teeth feel. Closys has no taste, and would be very useful for the kids with cavities since it can help rid the mouth of anaerobic (aggressive) plaque bacteria – use it for one minute prior to brushing.

      I’d suggest keeping drinks to mealtimes as much as possible – and end with either a piece of cheese or xylitol.
      There’s no doubt that any sugar is potentially harmful to teeth – but that includes cooked starch as well as healthy fruit sugars, so eliminating cavities by diet restrictions usually does not work. It’s more effective target and eliminate the germs that cause cavities. The best way to do this is to complete every meal with xylitol.

  10. Hello, I was told by my dentist that I need a root canal as a filling will not help since there’s pain on the tooth. will your system work to help reverse the severe cavity, so I don’t need a root canal? Root canals are very expensive, and I can’t afford it since I don’t have dental insurance. I have been experiencing pain when I eat, so I need to decide quickly as possible if extraction is the only option. But I do not want to go that direction. Thanks

    • It is impossible to diagnose from a computer – there are many things to consider before I could give worthwhile advice. On the other hand, when you get pain from foods (hot and cold etc) it means the tooth is still alive, and sometimes there are some things that can stop the progression of problems. If biting down causes pain – it is usually infection inside the tooth, causing pressure that is pushing into bone. Then it may be best to have an extraction.

      What caused these problems can cause more problems in other teeth in your mouth, so please consider getting started with xylitol and at least a better toothpaste that protects your teeth. Here are main suggestions:1) Use Crest Cavity Protection toothpaste and ACT rinse. 2) Limit drinks to mealtimes and cut down on snacking etc. 3) End every meal with Zellies mints or gum. You will be amazed how much better your teeth feel – so start this today!!

  11. Hello Dr Elle,

    I live in Taiwan and I’m very glad to found your website.
    I have a habit of oil pulling, but I’m doing orthodontic recently,
    So I would like to ask can I continued this oil pulling habit during this orthodontic period?
    Please forgive my poor English,and I’m looking forward to your reply.
    Thank you very much.

    Best Regards,

    Ivan

    • I am sorry it took me a while to reply – I was hoping to find time to write a more detailed post about benefits and problems associated with oil pulling. If you have previously found oil pulling to help maintain oral health – I would not stop! Orthodontic work puts oral health at increased risk – so never lessen your care. Yes, my advice would be to continue with it!

      On the other side of the coin, I need to warn people that oil pulling can sometimes make teeth sensitive and may potentially work like baking soda (being too aggressive in some mouths). The people who need to be careful are usually those with reduced salivary proteins – and this is often associated with diet – gender and sometimes age. Older women on vegan diets should, I think, be careful about oil pulling – and stop if it makes teeth sensitive.

      Thanks so much for your message – I wish I had more time to discuss in detail – maybe in the New Year!!

      Ellie

  12. Dear DR. Ellie,

    I am very pleased to receive your reply!
    Your suggestions is truly helpful.
    I carried out oil pulling for a while, not necessarily every day but often do so,
    and I felt it’s help for my oral health overall.
    I had bleeding gums often, and there are some little shrinking of my gums because of incorrect brushing habits in the past, these problems have been alleviated after oil pulling.
    I am orthodontics currently, and my mainly concern is whether the oil in the mouth may cause any chemical reaction with the braces.
    And now I will continued this habit for maintain my oral health.

    Please forgive me for the clumsy expression, and really thank you for your carefully reply!

    Best Regards,

    Ivan

    • Glad to be of help! Oral health is so important for your general health. If you see bleeding gums, brush them well, and consider getting adequate amounts of xylitol daily. I think you can access xylitol where you live – and it can be eaten off a spoon after meals, or you can add it to water as a drink. Strive for 5 separate times a day – and a total of between 1 -2 teaspoons daily.

  13. Dear Dr Ellie,

    In my country, xylitol is usually added to the chewing gum.
    I knew that xylitol can prevent cavities, and now I know that it is good for the gums too.

    Thank you again for your suggestion!

    Best Regards,

    Ivan

  14. Hi Dr Ellie, I live in the UK and have just found this site and ordered your book from Amazon!
    My dentist has prescribed Duraphat 2800 toothpaste for me – she is concerned as my teeth are suffering due to an acid reflux problem I had for years, and also I have extreme sensitivity around a recently filled tooth, which she has x-rayed and says it is probably due to the filling being very deep and so I may need root canal in the near future. Would this toothpase be suitable to use as part of your regime? It says Sodium Flouride 0.619% on the box and also has ‘Silicas’ in the ingredients list

    Many thanks

    Ellie

    • It is always a problem for me to advise people in other countries. I did not think up this system – but I discovered it – over many years – checking hundreds of patients who were using different home care products. By trial, error, and success, I discovered that teeth improved when the patients used specific products.Dental health improved when ACT was used after Listerine, etc etc. It took years to discover this system and find the results were predictable and consistent. Duraphat toothpaste was not available at this time. Yes it sounds good, but I have no was to tell if it will work as part of the system.

      I suggest you also consider taking xylitol daily. You may want to also take probiotics for your digestive health, and look into making a few dietary changes – like adding fermented probiotic foods, limiting between-meal drinks, and end each meal with xylitol. I hope you enjoy my book – it should help explain these last suggestions!

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