Family Mouth Care Questions

Hi Dr. Ellie,

I’ve been on your system for a little over three months (I’ve written you a couple of times), and everything seems to be working pretty good (I haven’t had my second dentist appointment to know for sure). I did come up with two questions that I wanted to check with you on. The first one is how long a person should brush. I’ve been told that a person should brush for two minutes (30 seconds per quadrant). However, I’ve also heard that excessive brushing can harm teeth. Is it essential to brush for 2 minutes, or would I only need to brush just long enough to make sure every tooth gets brushed?

The next question is whether there is a limit to the amount of Xylitol a 3-year-old should consume. I made some “Z-Water” for my son by putting 4 oz of Xylitol into 6 oz of water. He loved it. However, he tends to drink a lot of water, and if he kept drinking that same ratio of “Z-Water”, he’d consume easily 16 to 20+ oz of Xylitol a day. Do you know if this would be harmful?

Finally, I was wondering if you had any recommendations concerning dry mouth. Unfortunately, due to a medication I’m on, I have dry mouth. During the day, I try to keep drinking water and Xylitol water (as well as using the mints and occasionally gum), but I was wondering if you knew something that I might be missing. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time!


Hi TS,

Thanks for your message.

Question about how long to brush:

The whole idea of the two minute brushing was based on trying to clean teeth with a brush and some floss.

The concept makes me laugh – but it is still the mantra for many dentists.

I believe in spreading paste over all your teeth – massaging the gums – and if they bleed – doing it over.

If you brush effectively – most people can brush satisfactorily in less than 2 minutes.

After all, xylitol is making plaque slippery and the main point of the brush is to apply the paste to your teeth and massage your gums.

It is far more important to clean your MOUTH.

The rinses will get rid of germs that destroy teeth and gums and they will also help develop a healthy protective film to coat your mouth and KEEP it healthy.

Things that damage healthy biofilm:

Acidity tends to shrink and kill this protective film – so avoid long periods of mouth acidity.

Be careful if you like to nibble citrus fruits or drink water with lemon in it etc… Zellies fruit mints to the rescue!!!

You mention having a dry mouth – so it becomes even more essential to help this protective film form in your mouth – to protect your gums and teeth.

AVOID all whitening products, or products with baking soda etc.

Things that help healthy biofilm develop:

Use the system that I recommend – it will help develop a healthy and sustainable film.

Exercise and sunshine will help raise your vitamin D levels – and alkalize your body: good for helping protect your mouth.

Probiotics can be useful – maybe try to eat organic whole milk yogurt and drinks like kafir.

You may want to check your diet and think if you have a good balance of minerals in your diet.

Green vegetables of all kinds are great to help provide minerals – but avoid spinach – it is very acidic and will take this protective film off your teeth.

The only way to eat spinach is either as a salad with plenty of olive oil dressing or baked into a dairy product – like in lasagne or quiche.

Xylitol for your son:

I think you should try and get the amount of xylitol for your son to between 6 and 10 grams a day – maybe half the current amount.

There are studies where kids have eaten far more and for extended periods of time – but I am a big believer in moderation.

There are other great sweeteners – like honey or raw sugar – even maple sugar – which have different health benefits.

Hope this helps,

Please let me know if you have other questions,

Best Wishes,

Dr. Ellie Phillips DDS
Solutions for Oral Health

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