Listerine and Yellow Teeth

Hi again, Dr Ellie.

There is a recent email on your blog (Sept. 7th), where the writer says that she has been on your system for two years and has seen her teeth become progressively more yellow. She was understandably disheartened as I would be if it happened to me. You asked her some questions, but I haven’t seen a reply from her. I just wondered if her problem could be caused by the caramel in the Listerine Original, which gives the product its amber color. As you know, different people react differently to the same product, so could it not be a possibility that this lady is one of the unlucky ones whose teeth have gradually absorbed the color of the Listerine (even though it is washed off by the ACT)? I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

All good wishes,


Dear S:

It is a hard sell to think that yellow Listerine followed by green ACT will actually make teeth whiter!!

Using Listerine alone can certainly color teeth since the acidity can change the refractive nature of enamel and may have the potential to open channels and allow coloring to stain teeth. This is why I believe it is essential to use the ACT afterwards.

Tooth color is not as simple as people think. The color of enamel is clear translucent.

Changes in light refraction is the main reason for people to notice yellowing of teeth This is really not “staining” but tooth “softening”.

Soft enamel absorbs light more than hard enamel and therefore looks yellower.

My questions for this lady were aimed at knowing if she was using the system properly ( I think she replied that she was doing her tooth cleaning some hours before bed and my recommendation was to move this immediately before sleeping. If used before bed when the mouth is at its driest the length of time that teeth will be protected will be increased. Used during the day the final residues will be washed away possibly in her case by acidic saliva)

I also wanted to determine if her diet or stress were providing more “acidity” for her teeth than the protection being offered to them during the day.

With more acidity you need more “repair” situations.

Elderly people with “stained” or “yellowing” teeth can start using my system and make sure they repair their teeth more often than they “damage” them.

When they do this, the color of their teeth improves.

The more repair to damage ratio the quicker the color improves!

This is a daily equation

You have to add up the length of time acidity is “corroding” teeth vs. the length of time you have “xylitol / my system” helping remineralize and improve the refractive index of enamel to make it shine and appear white.

I hope this explains why I believe this lady was either not using the system properly or had inadequate exposures to xylitol for her diet and stress levels.

I often find people add xylitol to acidic drinks, tea etc which is less effective for remineralization than if they had xylitol after the acidic tea, drink etc.

Hope this explains things!


Ellie Phillips DD
Solutions for Oral Health!
author, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye

Categories: Uncategorized


  • Spot on with this write-up. I’ll be returning to read more, thanks for the advice!

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