Cavity on the Other Side of the World

Dear Dr. Ellie:

I am an American teacher in Wuhan, China. About two days before flying to China, I discovered that I had a hole in one of my teeth towards the back of my mouth (on the bottom). Not having enough time to get to the dentist, I left it untouched and made my way to China.

Now, after having been here ten months, the tooth looks a little worse, but I’ve noticed the same thing happening on the exact opposite side of my mouth. After hearing that leaving a cavity for so long can be hazardous to your health, I am unsure of what to do. I will be coming back to the States from China in under two months, but am not sure if I should go to the dentist here in China. I am fond of allowing my body to heal itself naturally, and have come to think that teeth can also heal naturally. 

But, I don’t know if these teeth should be checked out immediately or not. I don’t have any pain, at least not on an ordinary basis. If I eat something full of sugar or something extremely cold, I may have a little pain, but it’s never been so bad that I’ve been alarmed by it. The holes don’t look small to me (actually they are bigger than I would expect a cavity to be considering I don’t have any pain)…..and they are located right at the gumline. The gums look fine to me. 

Bad teeth seem to run in my family. Last time I went to the dentist I had 11 cavities, my father has a cavity every 6 months when he goes, it doesn’t matter if we brush meticulously or not at all….we will still have them. 

What would you suggest me to do? Should I go to the dentist while I’m here, or should I wait until I come back to the States and try a program such as the one you suggest?Any information would be appreciated.

Thank you,


Hi AC,

I am in no position to diagnose on this end of cyberspace but I will do my best to help you suggesting ideas as if you were family (since I cannot advise you as a patient!) I understand your situation and that you prefer to wait for dental care providing your teeth do not deteriorate in that time.

Since the holes are bilateral (each side) this problem must be from an infection of your entire mouth a bacteria that forms tooth-corrosive acids. These harmful bacteria stick to teeth at places that are difficult to clean in dips and crevices. These bacteria form acids that corrode tooth enamel underneath them hence a cavity forms.

The good news is that you may be able to access xylitol in China. Lotte is the tradename for the chewing gum sold there look for the highest percentage of xylitol. I think their gum comes 75%, 80% or 95% ( being more expensive as the percentage is greater). If you can get granular xylitol that would work also.

You need to have 6 pieces of gum each day and/or a teaspoon of xylitol dissolved in water to sip through the day. Regular use of xylitol will kill these harmful bacteria and help your teeth repair.

If you are able to get Crest toothpaste or something similar (with sodium fluoride in the paste) I would suggest using this it works in harmony with xylitol. Make sure to sterilize your toothbrush in some kind of disinfectant every day!

If xylitol is unavailable look for other dentally helpful foods. Licorice root is found in Chinese herbal stores. Eat a little of this, several times a day. Licorice root has been shown to kill harmful bacteria that damage teeth. Swishing cows milk around teeth will help provide minerals for them. Yams are also dentally helpful foods.

Now, I have three questions for you:
Do you use a mouthrinse?
What do you drink mainly?
Do you eat or drink before bed or during the night?

You need to eliminate harmful bacteria and if you do not, the cavity process will continue.
If you cannot access xylitol or licorice root then I think you have no choice but to seek dental help now, especially since it appears these cavities have progressed in less than a year. I am suspicious of what you drink being acidic and especially if you drink anything sweet or acidic during the night time, or if you have a dry mouth for some reason ( allergies/asthma).

I hope you and your family will look into the amazing way that xylitol can wipe out this contagious, transmissible bacteria that has spread through your family to cause damage to so many teeth. You can get rid of this infection and the solution is simple: 6 grams of xylitol every day for at least 6 months.

I hope this is useful information good luck and I wish you a safe return in a couple of months.
Ellie Phillips

Ellie Phillips DDS
26 Corporate Woods
Rochester, NY 14623

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  • JBG says:

    Regular use of licorice root can lead to undesired side-effects, including high blood pressure.

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    Thank you for the update on licorice root – is there research on this?Ellie http://www.zellies.com26 Corporate WoodsRochester, NY 14623(585) 272-1270

  • JBG says:

    For starters, click on: Referencesin the source

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    Interesting – thank you!Ellie

  • Dr. Ellie says:

    Interesting – thank you!Ellie

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