Dear Dr. Ellie: Are you saying that it is the not the essential oils which kill s. mutans but the acidic nature of Listerine which demineralizes teeth and which should keep careful people from using it?

 – A
Dear A:

No, you are correct – it is the essential oils that are working to remove immature plaque cells in the mouth – that is true.

The problem is that Listerine is a two-edged sword, because it is acidic and potentially mouth-drying.

Studies show that Listerine has antibacterial effects better than much stronger antiseptic mouth rinses.
These studies show that harmful plaque pathogens are eliminated in one minute by rinsing with Listerine.(Whereas other rinses like chlorhexidine take 5 minutes or more.)

Also, the good news for Listerine is that it does not damage the healthy oral ecology.

The problem with Listerine is that it is acidic and has alcohol in it (and alcohol is mouth-drying and therefore potentially hazardous for teeth and the mucosa of the mouth). Young, healthy men normally have copious amounts of alkaline saliva in their mouths – which is able to wash away these potential problems, and this allows them to use Listerine – without problem. Basically if you have alkaline ( and therefore mineral-rich saliva) your own saliva will deal with temporary acidity and mouth-drying problems.

Issues and dental damage occur for people using Listerine when their mouth conditions cannot compensate or wash the problem away.

This would be someone with an acidic or dry mouth.

People with dry mouth ( e.g. those on meds, people with allergies or sinus breathing problems for example) cannot wash this acidic liquid off their teeth adequately. Women often have long periods of their lives when their saliva is acidic ( it is hormone related – e.g. during pregnancy and as they get to middle age). People with dry mouth or an acidic mouth cannot remove or negate the acidity and drying action of Listerine.

I developed my system of mouth care to deal with these detrimental aspects of Listerine – (yet allow people to enjoy its benefits for gum health). Crest Cavity Protection paste can supply ions and sodium fluoride to the tooth surface where it interacts quickly enough to offer protection to teeth during the spell of acidity with the Listerine.

This is why I only recommend and advise this toothpaste and NO water rinsing between the steps.
After applying the paste to the teeth and rinsing with Listerine, the patients immediately rinse with ACT – a dilute fluoride rinse ( ACT is able to remineralize enamel after acidic exposure).

The outcome is a dramatic improvement for anyone who would otherwise be vulnerable to dental damage from the Listerine.

Thanks for your interest.


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