Q&A with Dr. Ellie: Toothpaste, Fluoride, and Kale

Every month Dr. Ellie Phillips will answer your oral health questions as part of the Ultimate Oral Health Guide.
A: Dear Ellie:  I understand you stick with and recommend your system.  Because of reading your site, I read the ingredients for Tom’s, which we’ve used for years, and saw that while the whole care toothpaste gel has sodium fluoride (and also xylitol), for some reason, Tom’s toothpaste has sodium monoflurophosphate instead of sodium fluoride. I didn’t realize until reading your site that sodium fluoride was more effective.  Thank you for the information on your site. I’d never read about spinach and kale removing the protective film on teeth.  Why is that?  I thought it could be because of oxalic acid but kale is lower than many foods in oxalic acid. I also read on your site that your daughters have a mild fluorosis.  In India where fluorosis has been caused by high amounts of fluoride in drinking water, they have found the fluorosis can be improved; the children were given ascorbic acid (500 mg), calcium (250 mg) and vitamin D3 (800 IU) daily for 44 days.http://www.indianpediatrics.net/apr1994/439.pdf

Thank you for your time.
 – D


A: Hi D,

Thanks so much for your message.

Toothpaste Ingredients
I am sure some of Tom’s ingredients changed when the company was purchased by Colgate. I would not recommend a monofluorophosphate since the molecule is large and has been shown to have less remineralizing potential. Gylcerine is another product in many “health” pastes – and may interfere with remineralizing also.

Monofluorophosphate was developed in the 1960s as companies were looking to produce a less expensive toothpaste for “third-world countries”. Once the recipe was developed, it seems to have gained the attention of shareholders in big oral health companies and there has been a product explosion since then! I don’t have numbers – but I am sure the oral product industry has grown beyond belief since the early 1970s ( and oral health has NOT improved because of these “new and improved” products!!)

Vegetables, snacking and tooth damage
My next book will give more detail about nutrition for oral health – things that help and foods that are “healthy” but damage teeth. Of course as part of a meal you can eat whatever you like – it is food eaten alone that is the issue.

Many plants have phytates in the leaves that are able to dissolve healthy biofilm on teeth.
Often “dissolving plaque” has been misinterpreted as a healthy idea and green tea, cranberry juice and baking soda have been recommended to remove plaque from teeth. The outcome is usually erosion, gum recession and sensitivity – because these products remove too much biofilm – (the infected kind as well as the healthy thin biofilm that our teeth NEED for health!)

Spinach has oxalic acid and phytates – so watch out for stripped teeth when consuming spinach. Eat it as part of a meal – finish the meal with cheese, some dairy or xylitol and there will not be a problem!
Kale is more like tea and has phytates in the leaves.

For snacking or drinking between meals I suggest root based plants or a tea from root based plants (carrots / roobios tea etc) protein foods (meat, chicken) or diary (cheese, yogurt, whole mink) – and – xylitol!

Thanks so much for your interest, and your suggestion about fluorosis. Your recommendation would be good for a child  with newly discovered problems – my kids had veneers to correct their major issues. Sad as it was – I guess this problem directed me to investigate fluoride in detail – and see there is good and bad in the story. In retrospect – I am happy to have learned the truth and be able to pass this along to people all over the world.

Thanks again for your message,
Dr. Ellie


For more information, please visit all of Dr. Ellie’s web-sites:

Dr. E Oral Health Coaching – articles, resources and videos to help you learn more
Zellies.com – learn more & order your Zellies Xylitol & the Complete Mouth Care System
Dr. Ellie.com – a great resource for learning more about oral health & Dr. Ellie

Join the conversation online on the Zellies Facebook page!

Categories: Fluoride, Q&A with Dr. Ellie

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  • Tyler Shepherd says:

    Dear Ellie:
    I’m new to your website but I’m glad I found a place where I could get information from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. Like some people, a few years back, I fell into the conspiracy theory myth surrounding ALL fluoride and became a Hypochondriac (because I get migraines, but I think they’re due to other causes.) This resulted in me avoiding fluoride toothpaste now for at least four years. Although now I am coming in touch with reality as i have many cavities (as of last August.) I don’t want to make my judgement off of paranoia promoted by people who just think every medical profession is out to get them. However, a couple months ago when I went back to fluoride toothpaste (regular Colgate), the first couple of days I got extremely depressed which made me “confirm” that it’s not safe for me; then when I kept using it things got better. In your experience, is there a typical reaction when someone goes back to using fluoride in toothpaste after not having used it for awhile? Just asking because I’d love to gain the benefits of using it. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

    • I am sure if you read my website you will understand that I am not in favor of consuming or drinking fluoride. Also, with toothpaste: you only need a “pea” or “rice grain” amount on your toothbrush. I personally recommend Crest Cavity Protection paste – and only this tiny amount. You will spit it out and rinse the residue off with Listerine, if you use my complete mouth care system. The final rinse with ACT is also something that you spit out well – but the residue on your teeth will begin to heal them, particularly if you use some xylitol and the entire program I recommend.

      I have been using this system for over 30 years and I have recommended it to thousands of people. The improvement in oral health is a huge benefit to health. Don’t let other people stress you about a tiny amount of fluoride that you spit out. Maybe if people continue to tell you what you should not be using fluoride products, check on the state of their teeth! I know Dr. Mercola (who speaks out against fluoride almost daily) has mentioned he needs cleanings at the dentist every month, and has a mouth full of dental work. It is sad that so many have these extreme views and don’t understand that the toxicity of fillings and other treatments is far more dangerous for health than a drop of paste and an ounce of rinse twice daily!

  • Janice Baker says:

    Hi Ellie,

    I use a dentifrice that has xylitol in it; it has no glycerin. I am wondering if it is acceptable instead of the Crest. Here is the ingredient list :

    Dicalcium Phosphate Dihydrate, Eggshell Powder, Methylparaben, Mono-Ammoniated Glycyrrhizin, Natural Spearmint Flavour, Pareth-15-7, Pareth-15-9, Propylene Glycol, Propylparaben, Sodium Carrageenan, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Titanium Dioxide, Water, Xylitol

    It is made by Shaklee Corp. Two clinical tests were done: 1) Gingivitis and Plaque formation (in first 2 week exam period, showed a quicker response to improvement; 2) stain removal–more efficient than other products in the study (of equal abrasiveness).

    It is less abrasive than Crest, as well. The only thing missing is flouride, but I reckon the rinses would take care of this element.

    Thank you for all the authentic care and research you put into a very important (and often overlooked) health issue.

    Janice (Baker)

    • Hi Janice,

      The paste may be a good one – it sounds nice. I have never seen the long-term results so I really cannot endorse – but the ingredients look good. Without fluoride in the paste it will not be a good substitute in my system – because you need the defense of fluoride prior to using the Listerine step.

      If you have good teeth, no disease, and no fillings – then I am happy to think you are using this paste. If you have damaged teeth or multiple fillings, your teeth have been weakened and I believe you need the benefits of the Complete Mouth Care System. I always try to be positive about oral health – but once teeth have been damaged – they need more complete help than a full mouth of natural pristine teeth. Prevention for never-filled natural teeth can rely on xylitol and maybe an occasional rinse with ACT, but I believe everyone else needs the Complete Mouth Care System!

      Thanks for your kind comments. Ellie

  • Janice Baker says:

    Dear Ellie,

    One more question has to do with the protection of brushes from bacteria:
    1. WCB here says that one of the biggest and most toxic sources of indoor air pollution comes from the toilet and recommends putting the lid down when not in use (and especially when flushing)–would this protect the brush heads from bacteria?

    2. What about putting the plastic “caps” onto the heads of an electric toothbrush after it is dried?

    3. My electric toothbrush comes with a UV toothbrush cleaner; is this as, or more, effective than rinsing in the Listerine?


    • It’s funny you ask this question today – because I just finished writing about this subject for a chapter in my next book – which I hope to publish in the Spring of 2014.

      When it comes to toilet plume contamination I think it’s a real problem for toothbrushes – and it appears from research that certain brushes are more prone to infection than others ( which I found interesting). Some newly brushes seem worse than worn ones – showing it’s more about the design and bristle arrangement than if your brush is new or not.

      Certainly there is more splatter from a lidless toilet – but the other variable appears to be the hydrodynamics of how the toilet flushes – yes- really! Personally I suggest you fear toilet bacteria – especially if you have gum disease or are over 30 ( and therefore more susceptible to gum disease).

      Keep your toothbrush somewhere sensible – and ideally store in a dry and sunny place where it can air-dry. Don’t rely on this alone and periodically use Listerine to clean your brushes ( with the more “at risk” you are – the more often you do this). You will have to read my book for all the details about UV sanitizers, covering brushes etc – but basically don’t rely on any one method to clean or protect your brush.

      Listerine looks like an effective brush cleaner from research…..and antibacterial brushes (like the MouthWatcher’s brush)- appear to have advantages. Here is a link to the ones we recommend as you may want to alternate manual with electric – (use electric in the am and manual to give yourself a good gum massage before bed) ….

  • Mia Zai says:

    Dear Ellie
    I am from Europe and I can’t buy Crest Toothpaste here. I can buy it on Amazon but it gets really expensive.

    I found some toothpaste here and it seems similar in ingredients with Crest.
    Would you mind look at ingredients and tell if this might be a good replacement?

    Ingredients are:
    aqua, hydroxyapatite, hydrated silica, sorbitol, propylene glycol, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate, aroma, disodium pyrophosphate, cellulose gum, aloe barbadensis leaf juice powder, allantoin, sodium fluoride, sodium saccharin, limonene, ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide (Pigment White 6 CI 77891))

    I am not sure about the last ingredient where it is saying ‘pigment white’

    Thank you very much!
    Kind regarda

    • Hi Mia,
      Finding products in other countries is very difficult. I think this is a close alternative – but obviously, I cannot say if it will give exactly the same results. It seems a good choice.

      • Mia Zai says:

        Ellie, thank you very much for a fast response. As soon as possible I will try to get myself original choices. But it is good to hear that the toothpaste I was asking for, at least shouldn’t hurt.
        Keep up the good work!

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