Arresting Dental Caries

Hi Dr. Ellie,

I discovered you and your book “Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye” while purchasing “Sweeten Your Life the Xylitol Way” on Amazon.

(I had been using xylitol for about nine months at that point and one day realized I no longer had that thick plaque on my teeth… I am 34 and have had that plaque as long as I can remember… until xylitol. Inspired, I began researching & learning more about xylitol.)

I added your book to my order & read it as soon as it arrived. I have since recommended it and your blog to family & friends.

I will give you my question first, then fill in the details.

How can we arrest (possibly reverse?) a carious lesion in the dentin (near the pulp) of my 11-year-old daughter’s deciduous molar?

I believe it is an approximal lesion.

A few weeks ago, her dentist extracted the molar in the same position on the opposite side (both are on top) after the filling had failed and an abscess developed.

He wants to perform a root canal on the current lesion. I have not yet asked him if it had already cavitated.

Having a tooth extracted and potentially needing a root canal on the next… motivated her to begin using xylitol regularly and be more diligent about her oral hygiene. After a few weeks of xylitol plus solid oral hygiene, she no longer has the thick plaque that used to be there even after she brushed (like I also used to!). She now follows your complete clean white teeth system: twice a day she rinses with CloSYS, then brushes with Crest regular fluoride toothpaste, followed by Listerine and ACT. (We also added using a Water Pik after the CloSYS, which recently started making her gums around her infected tooth bleed, even though she’s using pressure of about 4/10.)

We have mostly eliminated refined sugars and are trying to get good dental nutrition (including milk & cheese). Also cod liver oil and high vitamin butter (not sure if there’s anything to that, but can’t see how it would hurt).

Thanks for your time and the benefit of your experience,


Hi Jason,

I think you are on exactly the right pathway.

I cannot tell if this will be in time to protect the deciduous molar from its existing cavity – but at least you will stop the progression of the disease.

The best news is that these changes will develop a healthy oral ecology for your daughter and an oral environment that is healthy for her mouth, her teeth and her general health.

If your dentist is a reasonable person to talk with?

My suggestion is to discuss the possibility of waiting a while before filling this tooth.

Ask him to guide you – maybe monitor again in 4 months?

Throw everything you can at this tooth for the next four to six months.

You are already doing great – but ENSURE you remember to clean your toothbrushes very regularly or change them out often.

(This is why we sell Zellies toothbrushes on our website in boxes of 25!!)

Keep an eye on the frequency of your xylitol usage – it is important for multiple exposures daily – about 5-10 grams total – in any way you like; mints, gum, granular.

It sounds as if you are already on this regimen.

Finally get all the family involved.

This is a transmissible disease – and you don’t want her to get re-infected.

Anyone likely to kiss her or share food – should at least be on the xylitol part of the program.

I think we need “certificates of kissability” – for people to carry around in their pockets! Ha!

I am optimistic for your daughter’s dental future – but I am not sure if you can reverse the deciduous tooth.

It sounds as if the nerve may have already become infected.

Providing she has no pain or sensitivity – I would keep doing the program – under the watchful eye of your dentist.

Perhaps we can make him a believer too!

Thanks for your message and please keep me posted with the end of the story.

Happy Valentine’s Weekend – lots of healthy kissing!

Best Wishes,

Dr. Ellie Phillips DDS
Solutions for Oral Health


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