5 Year Old With Severe Decay

Dear Dr. Ellie,

I have a 5 year old that has already had extensive tooth decay and we are now facing 2 root canals. He is primarily a mouth breather which I think contributes. I have tried to use the gum and mints but have a hard time being consistent due to school and his age. Do you have suggestions? Do you have a xylitol spray and/or an opinion on this. I have used your program with GREAT SUCCESS for the past year and cannot thank you enough! He is too young for Listerine, should I use the closys before I brush with regular crest followed by flossing and act? Thank you for any help you can give me. We are very worried about him.


Dear SS,

I would brush your son’s teeth with Crest paste and help him learn and practice to rinse with ACT. You do not need Listerine for little kids and they do not need the Closys at this time either.

There is a bubblegum flavor ACT which kids really like. Make sure his toothbrush is kept very clean every day.

To “practice” with a mouth rinse I usually suggest putting a drop of the ACT in a cup of water and see if he can rinse and spit without swallowing it. If the results are not good continue with this the reward being more drops of ACT in the water each time it is successful.

Eventually you will have the confidence that he is not going to gulp the mouth rinse down in one gulp. Now you can have him rinse with the ACT every time after brushing.

If you find nights when he is too tired to brush – at least get him to rinse quickly with the ACT.
Same thing if you can after breakfast in the morning.

I would really like you to encourage him to nibble or drink some xylitol regularly. You could try the kids gum it is raspberry flavor or try baking some cookies with granular xylitol.

Another suggestion: you could make a xylitol drink and keep it in the refrigerator just put a 4 gram packet into a cup of warm water (so it dissolves) then maybe put it in a cool-looking water bottle and keep it handy for him. He could take this to drink to drink at the end of lunch at school. He must understand that he has to protect his teeth with this special “Z water” after any juice like apple juice etc.

Just some suggestions.

The use of xylitol and ACT together will be very healing. Less plaque will form and his teeth will soon begin to strengthen. Anyone with a dry mouth finds improvement happens even more quickly than other people.

The other good thing is that you are going to change this problem and remove harmful bacteria from his mouth before the eruption of the rest of his permanent teeth. This is a perfect moment to change his life in a better oral health direction forever.

I think you will see a reversal of the trend very soon.

Please let me know if you have other questions,
Ellie Phillips, DDS

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