Q & A: Controlling pH

Hello Dr Ellie,

I have been reading the information on your website and have the following

(Ellie’s Answers in Blue)

1. What are the main ways to control the ph during meals so that a chance of decay is reduced?

Do not worry too much about the pH of the things you eat or drink providing you END your meal (or snack) with a “tooth protective” food. There are many choices of alkaline “tooth protective” foods cheese, almonds, celery, carrots, dairy etc.The last thing left on your teeth is what really matters. Xylitol just happens to be one of the very finest, most convenient and a “multi-tasking” tooth-protective food.

Not only does xylitol bring the mouth pH to alkaline and safe for teeth (to promote remineralization of teeth) but it also works as a natural inhibitor of harmful acid-producing bacteria and a kind of pro-biotic (encouraging the growth) of healthy mouth bacteria. So don’t be too concerned about the content of each meal or snack more important is what you END your meal of snack eating or drinking. A cookie followed by a mouthful of milk would be safer than drinking the milk and then eating the cookie. Always try to end each meal with something that is “tooth protective”.

2. Can rinsing with baking soda and water after snacks/meal control the mouth ph? or is this not a good idea?

I am not an advocate of baking soda. I agree it is alkaline but I have found it harsh to gum tissue. Patients who have used baking soda have shown me bad gum recession  where gums kind of disappear. It is almost like a sensitivity reaction not proven in any studies that I know but serious enough in my career for me to tell people NOT to use baking soda to clean teeth- as a solution or as an ingredient in tooth paste.

3. It is generally recommended to brush after meals and snacks that could put brushing to 3 times a day for meals and 2 for snacks-=5 times is that too much?

I believe that there is sufficient research to indicate the need to brush
twice a day (preferably every 12 hours). Personally I do not think that 3 times a day is any problem and for some of us our days are longer than 12 hours. Using xylitol will help to control the plaque and also removes any mouth acidity in between the brushing times, and after meals. Mouth bacteria have been shown to double after meals so eating some xylitol at this time is a really good idea. Think of xylitol as a helper to clean your teeth and to control plaque. Think of your brushing routine for strengthening and building the beauty of
your teeth.

4. For children under 6-can the Act rinse be brushed on the teeth at night?

I think that for children 3-6 this is a better solution that the children’s toothpastes on the market at this time.

5. What is recommended for children under 6, regarding the clean white teeth system?

The system is only for children with adult teeth that age varies due to compliance and also to ability. CWT (also known as the Complete Mouthcare System)is usually suggested for kinds around 13/14. Younger kids can have protection from xylitol and xylitol works in harmony with dilute fluoride such as ACT.

I would suggest ACT brushed onto teeth at night and morning and xylitol gum or mints or xylitol in water after meals. There are other tooth protective foods like cheese also that help. This way you can let your children have treats but control dental damage.

An example: Halloween. I would let my kids eat some of the treats they had been given as many as was reasonable AT ONE TIME (sometimes this would make me cringe, but I let them have the candies)then we would end up with a food or drink that was tooth-friendly. Before bed they would do a carefully controlled tooth-cleaning routine.

Hope this helps!
Ellie Phillips, DDS

Categories: Xylitol

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