Questions About Total Mouth Care for Children

Dear Dr. Ellie:

Thank you…we are using 100% xylitol and we haven’t ever used diet products or splenda so some of us will just go a little slower…I was just anxious to get the process going quickly!

Does it matter how much water is added to the xylitol..does it need to be a certain concentration?

Do baby pacifiers cause bacteria problems like toothbrushes?

Do you have any helps for getting a child to stop sucking his fingers (he is almost 3)?

Thank you so much for your advice. I can tell you are a blessing to many people. We are already feeling blessed.


Dear L:

First, as a Mom and Grandmom I do not raise any alarm about thumb sucking for a child of 3 years old. Any worry would be more appropriate as adult front teeth erupt (around 6/7 years of age).

You can gently try to find alternatives – but if a child needs this security – it does not pose any long term consequences, in my opinion. Many dentists think it changes growth patterns – but who is to say that the growth pattern existed first and this made it comfortable for the thumb to “fit” ??

Mostly occlusion(bite) problems can be fixed with a simple appliance as permanent incisor teeth are erupting. I would wait till then – and just give extra hugs now!

I had one child that was a long time thumb sucker. Before we resorted to appliance therapy, I tried an old remedy that worked great. My 7 year old child was included in the therapy ( and WANTED to stop the habit). We put an ace bandage on the elbow of the arm – so that it made the sucking harder and hindered the reflex action during the night. It worked in about a week!

It does not matter the dilution of xylitol in water – it only matters that it is “applied” to teeth multiple times a day – in small amounts that together total more than 5 grams of xylitol. Research shows that over 10 grams a day will not give improved results – so keep it around 5 grams for now. I would suggest you figure out how much water you drink a day and then divide the 5 grams into that amount.

Infective bacteria grow on pacifiers and even on toys. A recent study showed oral bacteria inside the tubes of wind and brass musical instruments – ugh!!! Obviously we cannot become total germaphobes – but we can protect ourselves by using xylitol as defense against harmful germs. When you are at risk – you eat more Zellies or use more xylitol.

I am just thinking that I must send the article about the musical microbes to our local Philharmonic Orchestra and maybe get them eating Zellies!!

Best Wishes


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