Q&A with Dr. Ellie: Toddler Teeth

Every month Dr. Ellie Phillips will answer your oral health questions as part of the Ultimate Oral Health Guide.


Q: I have a 20-month old daughter. She has an upper lip tie (which I read can lead to a greater chance of cavities) and she is still nursing at night. It seems to me that her upper 4 baby teeth have been rough and discolored almost since they came in. I’m brushing her teeth 2-3 times a day now with natural child-safe toothpaste because I fear they are decaying. It is a traumatic event, where we have to hold her down to get to all her teeth, so we used to brush them once before bed (without paste when she was younger) and allow her to “brush” her teeth any other time she wanted to try.

I’m concerned about some the artificial colors and ingredients in the products you recommend, but I’m willing to use them to protect her teeth. What would you recommend for a toddler in this situation?

I have read good things about breast milk actually being protective for teeth, and we won’t be night weaning soon. I’d like to know what to do during the day and if you recommend rubbing xylitol on her teeth several times a day. I also worry about giving her too much fluoride in toothpaste form. -B


A: Dear B,

There is no science that show brushing or flossing can stop cavities. Also, brushing is an inefficient way to remove plaque from teeth – especially for a toddler. You will have far more success implementing xylitol into your child’s life.

The only purpose for brushing baby teeth is to transport a solution or paste to teeth – something that will help them. Brushing or wiping healthy baby teeth with a solution of xylitol can stop cavities, but brushing and flossing with “unhelpful” toothpaste will not achieve anything.

Xylitol promotes ideal conditions to protect baby teeth from cavities. You have a choice to wipe or brush a solution of xylitol over teeth, or give your toddler 1/8th teaspoon of granular xylitol from a spoon, or a ZellieBear to eat before bed. The outcome will be the same, and usually consuming xylitol is easier than brushing teeth at this stage.

I only ask parents to brush toddler teeth with toothpaste if a child has cavities, or is at high risk for cavities. In this case, I suggest brushing with a drop of bubblegum flavor ACT on the brush, sometimes with an additional rice-grain amount of Crest regular paste. The brush transports the sodium fluoride and silica (from the ACT and paste) to work along with xylitol to help strengthen these teeth and prevent cavities.

I never suggest “child-safe” toothpastes (even from health stores), because these pastes are not formulated to improve mouth health. Many unbalance mouth chemistry, some are acidic, and some contain products that grow harmful plaque.

I wish ACT was colorless and without unnecessary ingredients – but I believe the more important wish is to help children avoid cavities. If your child is at risk for cavities, this routine can help. The alternative will be plastic sealants (containing BPA) caps (containing base-metals) or filling (often mercury fillings) to fix the damage. A child with perfect teeth only needs xylitol for protection, but a child with damaged, discolored, or rough teeth, needs the integrated use of xylitol (during the day), silica (in Crest paste), and a little, very dilute sodium fluoride (Crest and ACT).

Always be sure to limit juice to mealtimes. Toddlers tend to drink a lot – and if you are using anything sweetened or acidic this can be a big problem. Xylitol is ideal before sleep or nap time, and after sugary or sticky foods and drinks.

Best wishes,
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: Children's Teeth, Natural Solutions, Q&A with Dr. Ellie, Xylitol

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  • Bethany says:

    I asked that question. Thank you for picking it!

    I read so many pages on your site after I asked that question. Based on what I read, I started brushing her teeth every night with a very very tiny amount of Crest, and I put xylitol granules on washcloth and rub those on her teeth once or twice a day. I also give her xylitol mints (only xylitol- no sorbitol or anything else). I’m looking into getting your polar bears, too! I occasionally have done a drop of ACT, but doesn’t original Crest also have the flouride in it? I thought maybe it was either /or.

    We are a no juice house, but she does love fruit. She has fruit in her oatmeal every morning and fruit for a snack. Otherwise, she eats a lot of whole grains and vegetables. We also eat fish and eggs. I will keep up on the xylitol. It sounds like I’m on the right track and doing the best I can right now.

    Thank you for your reply!

    • Well done – the changes your have made may seem small, but their effects will be enormous!

      It is so hard to believe that one small teaspoon of xylitol has enough power to control oral health!
      The secret is frequency – using a little xylitol after meals, snacks and drinks etc.

      Fruit is fine for teeth when it is eaten as part of a meal.
      Snacking on citrus fruits can be damaging – but if you have some xylitol after the snack it changes the situation – voila – the damage disappears!

      Like many good changes in our lives, it takes effort for a while – but the results bless us far into the future.
      Congratulations – and please keep in touch!

      -Dr. Ellie

  • Frances Ray says:

    Hi Dr. Ellie,
    I’ve been using the Complete Mouth Care System since the end of January 2012 and believe my teeth and gums have benefited greatly. My dental history has included thousands of dollars spent on periodontal surgeries and deep cleanings. Recently I developed what I thought was a tooth problem and went to my dentist for pain relief and any other treatment necessary. After x-rays, he determined that it was not a tooth problem but an acute periodontal one and had me see the periodontist who recently joined his practice. She in turn told me that I needed yet another full mouth flap procedure and refused to even write a prescription for an antibiotic (I had a gum abscess).
    I would travel the 4 1/2 miles to see you if there is no one you could recommend in my area (western MA). Are you accepting new patients?

    • Hi Francis, a new dentist may help – but I think the best chance to correct your gum problems is to empower yourself with knowledge. Periodontal disease requires excellent oral care ( check out the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System and make sure you are using correct products and adequate amounts of xylitol). To reverse periodontal disease you need a strong immune system and adequate nutrition – particularly when it comes to antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrition. I usually recommend probiotics to improve digestive health and a good diet be part of your protocol. Toothbrushing is important for gum massage and circulation – so a good, clean toothbrush will make a huge difference. Make sure to sign up for Zellies Newsletters – since we plan to add a lot more educational information about gum disease in 2013! If you need to review the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System click HERE

  • Tamie Stewart says:

    I have a question concerning your dental care program. I have been using your protocol for about 6 months and I love it but I’ve heard from several dental hygenists, plus my dentist, that listerine had too much alcohol. They suggested that if I insisted on using listerine, I should dilute it. Will diluting it with some filtered water be OK?

    I’m not sure if it is the listerine or some other aspect to the dental care plan, but my teeth (which are partially bonded) turned completely purple when I consumed too many blueberry smoothies. I’m talking seriously purple. It took a dental cleaning to get rid of the purple completely.

    Someone mentioned that the listerine might make my teeth more porous and, therefore, more vulnerable to staining. I’ve given up on blueberry smoothies but I’d rather not. Any ideas about what might be causing such extreme staining?

    Thank you for your dental care advocacy. Your dental care plan has rocked me world!


    Tamie Stewart

    • Many cosmetic dentists recommend the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System to their patients with confidence. I don’t know what the “bonding” is on your teeth – but if it is decent material it should not turn blue!
      As for the alcohol in the Listerine – you will find other posts about this subject. Much confusion was caused by a company in Australia some years ago – they wanted to take a place in the Listerine marketplace, and funded a study that was ridiculous- but it achieved some negative buzz against Listerine. On the other hand, I NEVER recommend any of the new Listerine products – the whitening, tartar control and Zero. I believe these are all problematic for mouth health.
      The original Listerine has been tested repeatedly and has been safely used in many countries for decades. If you want to dilute it – fine – but the argument about alcohol is not valid. In any case, you rinse it off with ACT at the end of the system ( do the hygienists commenting understand that?).

  • Melissa says:

    Dear Dr. Ellie,

    I came across your blog here after looking online concerning my 5 year old daughters four cavities. Her dentist wants her to get them all filled next month. We brush morning and night, and do not consume fruit juices or much sugar but she still had 4 cavities at our last visit at the dentist. I was shocked and do not know what to do. They are her four back bottom molars and one is larger the rest very small. We have been using the Xylitol kid toothpaste for years. She is just getting really good at spitting to where I feel comfortable putting a fluoride toothpaste on her toothbrush. Would you recommend the same system for kids as adults?

    I have read about a acidic mouth could cause tooth decay too. How do I know if this is the reason for her cavities? We have been eating a TON of tomatoes from the garden this summer and they eat fruit all the time. I have also noticed her grinding her teeth at night. I am mentioning everything incase it sends up a red flag of some sort for you.

    I read an article about getting fillings in baby teeth and how if the cavity is small and has just started there might be a chance it can repair itself through the process of remineralization. Do you believe this? I am committed in changing our eating any way that I can and her oral cleaning to make this happen if possible. I feel that I let her down and do not want her to get any more cavities. Any help and direction would be greatly appreciated. 🙂 Since reading your blog I have already started giving her the granulated xylitol after meals. She loves it!


    • Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for your message. I understand your concern and also these decisions you need to make.

      Remineralization of cavities is quite easy in permanent teeth – but seems to be a bit more of a challenge with kids.

      Cavities progress and spread inside the teeth only when cavity bacteria remain in your child’s mouth.
      Xylitol will quickly put an end to this – so the cavity progression will stop.
      Then it is a question of turning cavities around.
      You will not get natural healing until the disease has been stopped – it takes time – never over night!

      You have done well to start using xylitol at the end of every meal – that is great.
      Make sure it is a good brand – some people have noticed a big difference when they switched to Zellies brand……just a FYI!

      Use a little xylitol after anything that is damaging to teeth.
      This definitely includes fruit and carbohydrates of any kind (bread, crackers, cereal, even healthy things like fruits, honey, or baked foods).
      The biggest confusion is that the emphasis has been that sugar harms teeth – but all carbohydrates are a problem and bad for teeth – since they feed cavity bacteria in the mouth.

      The simplest way to enjoy food (which is important!) is to snack on proteins and cheeses and keep carbohydrates (crackers, cereals, fruits etc ) to mealtimes.
      Whole milk, cheeses, proteins and xylitol are safe snacks for teeth – everything else at mealtimes – then end the meal with xylitol.

      The shocking truth is that brushing is only useful for adult gum health.
      Brushing kids teeth has never been shown to stop cavities or help to stop cavity infection (plaque) in the mouth.
      It’s OK to brush their teeth – to start a good habit – but only the paste ON THE BRUSH will do anything to help them.

      Xylitol has Evidence Based research to show it will progressively STOP plaque in the mouth.
      I prefer to give a small amount of xylitol to a child before bed than try to brush their teeth with an unhelpful kid toothpaste (and many of these toothpastes have horrible ingredients for tooth health).

      Avoid any paste with glycerin in the ingredient list – we believe glycerin will prevent remineralization.
      Avoid baking soda or anything with sugar or acid in the list.

      To help your cavity problems, I suggest the smallest amount of sodium fluoride and silica to work synergistically with the xylitol.
      Together these ingredients will speed remineralization – which is what you need to happen.

      I suggest a tiny (rice grain) amount of Crest Cavity Protection paste (ONLY the original formulation) on a clean toothbrush.
      Add one drop of bubblegum ACT rinse to moisten the brush and brush with this combination.
      As your daughter becomes good at rinsing – she could brush first and then rinse with the ACT and spit out.
      Ensure you work the toothpaste around the cavity areas for about a minute.

      Although the xylitol is being used during the day and the fluoride at night – they work together and will stimulate natural healing, if it is possible.
      You have a good chance to work miracles here if you can do this for this next month.
      I know it is hard work – but the benefits are the chance to save your child from fillings – what a concept!

      Please let me know if you have any more questions,
      Best wishes,

      Dr. Ellie

      • Melissa says:

        Dr. Ellie,

        Thank you for your quick response to my concerns. I have written it all down and plan to stay dedicated to her having a clean mouth. I never knew about the carbohydrates and fruit being so damaging. I plan to change the way we do snacks now. Thank you again and I will keep you updated on her progress. I have also gotten the Complete Mouth Care System products at the store yesterday and plan to start using it for myself too. So happy I found you!

        Take care,
        Melissa 🙂

      • Melissa says:

        Hello Dr. Ellie,

        It has been nine months since I first wrote to you about my 5 year old and her cavities. We visited the same dentist in February and this time around he said she only had 3 he would want to fill and I asked if any of them were progressing and he said they all look about the same except one. When he came across the fourth cavity from the first visit he said something dentistry and the assistant said that it was worse last time and he said it must have been a mistake. I believe it was the xylitol and fluoride working together to help that tooth. 🙂

        My question now is about her 6 year molars starting to come through her gums. The first one is right next to a molar that has a cavity in it. We are still going strong taking the xylitol gum or polar bear after each meal or snack. We brush with the crest original toothpaste and ACT morning and night for a minute. My biggest fear is the cavity passing to her permanent molar. She also is starting to notice her front teeth feeling different and I have noticed them spacing out and she believes one is loose so I think she will start the loosing of her baby teeth soon.

        Do I need to do anything different or should I continue what I am doing? What do you think about x-rays for children? With her cavities do you think it is important to do it each 6 month visit to keep an eye on them? Thank you for any input to help keep my daughters mouth clean and ready to have her permanent teeth take over.

        Melissa 🙂

  • Julie says:

    I am hoping to leave a new question and apologize if this ends up as a comment!

    Our three-year-old has several cavities. We have “shopped” dentists, and have found one who has been watching them with us for six months now. She encourages us in xylitol and does not want to fill cavities too quickly. However, at the last visit, we were dismayed to hear that the two “smaller” cavities in her bottom molars have “worm-holed” down enough that the dentist recommends small fillings. She also says the rest are still slowly progressing and will eventually need treatment.

    Seven months ago, we originally did many things that we have since changed…lots of snacking, crackers, and sipping apple juice. After learning of cavities, we have eliminated juice and citrus, focused on much more dairy and veggies, increased brushing (often with a rice-grain amount of Crest original), and added xylitol. In the last three months we have given xylitol regularly through the day, and now in the last month, have given it at least 5 times a day (after each meal or snack). Also, we have been brushing with water after eating because we noticed that food really sticks hard in her molars, and brushing removes it (before we give her the xylitol).

    After reading these posts, I realize we need to still make a few small changes…mainly decrease fruit as a snack and possibly change to zellies brand xylitol. But I am still a bit surprised at the worsening of cavities since we have been giving xylitol regularly.

    Do worm-holes just hold the sugars in and not allow saliva to penetrate? From what I have read, at her age frequency matters more than quantity, so we focus on a few pinches of granular severa times rather than really measuring quantity. Is this OK? Are we doing something else wrong?

    One other comment: I try to pour boiling water over her tooth brush to sanitize it…is this sufficient? She will not tolerate the taste of a brush that has been cleaned with Listerene.

    Thank you for your help and hope with it all!

    • It’s great you have a dentist who recommends xylitol and does not want to fill cavities too quickly. The health of teeth is always a dynamic and delicate balance. The outcome for teeth is this:

      How much teeth get damaged vs How much help they get

      If a cavity forms or progresses, it means there is more damage than help/repair every day – and the effect is cumulative. Alternatively when frequently help/heal teeth – the benefits are cumulative.

      To stop cavities progressing there are 2 things to do:
      1. Limit the frequency and amount of damage to teeth
      – Keep juices, fruit, and carbohydrates to meal-times only
      – Snack between meals on nuts, cheese, chicken or meat
      – Use xylitol after every snack, meal, or drink
      – Use dilute fluoride and brush over cavities: either a drop of ACT rinse or a tiny amount of Crest paste
      – Get extended family on a good oral health program

      2. Increase the frequency and amount of help you give teeth
      – Use frequent amounts of xylitol (at least 5 times a day)
      – Brush cavities with a little dilute fluoride – like ACT rinse
      – Use toothpaste like Crest (for the silica and fluoride it contains)
      – Snack on tooth-healthy foods like cheese (for the calcium it contains)

      The idea of brushing after eating (before the xylitol) seems a good idea. I honestly believe the quality of xylitol is important, if you are trying to heal a cavity. Also check the xylitol products you are using do not contain glycerin. It is said this can interfere with healing.

      I believe you have now made the necessary changes – and I expect you will have a positive dental visit next time. Xylitol frequency and timing is vital, but when you are dealing with cavities, proper dosage is also important.

      For the toothbrush (to sanitize it) – possibly consider having two brushes – alternating them. This will give her brush more time to dry between uses. Don’t get too hung up on this, since I believe the dietary changes are more important.

      – Dr. Ellie

      • Julie says:

        Dr. Ellie,

        I asked this question last month, and your answer has been very helpful. Your summary helped to put everything together in a logical way for me…remembering what is good, what is bad, and thinking of it all as a cumulative effect. I never realized how much I gave in to requests for fruit for snacks and how much they still hurt teeth. She would eat an apple or other piece of fruit for every snack if she could!

        We also have changed to Zellies. I love the way the bears leave a little xylitol stuck in the same molar grooves where food tried to stay, and it’s fun to hear her plead for a “candy” bears after brushing. Also we have made a real effort to get brushes dry. Thank you for that good idea!

        We are glad that you think our idea of brushing the food out of the teeth before xylitol is a good idea…I had worried that maybe somehow it would erode surfaces that were trying to heal, but didn’t know what else to do since I always saw food stuck on the surfaces.

        All in all, your answer has been so helpful. We do hope that next month’s visit will be encouraging!

        One last question based on your answer: You mentioned that dosage is still important when dealing with cavities. Is the dosage for small children the same as adults (6.5-10 grams)?

        Thank you again for your help. It is nice to be able to be proactive and help our children…especially after feeling guilt when we first realized how much we were doing wrong and that she was suffering the consequences.

      • Julie says:

        Dear Dr. Ellie,

        It has now been about one and a half years since I first posted this question…and thanks to your help, lots of hard work making changes, and God’s answers to prayers I am excited to tell you that our daughter’s teeth are doing well! We were originally told we needed 8 crowns under sedation. We ended up putting in a few small fillings almost a year later and have not had to do any other repair. I wish you could have seen our dentist’s face at our last visit for fluoride varnish application…she looked in our daughter’s mouth and almost jumped in her chair, exclaiming, “It’s WORKING!”

        Thank you so much for your help along the way…both through these blogs and personal e-mails when we were brand new to it all and very scared. You have been a blessing to us!


  • Elly says:

    Dr. Ellie, is the Zellies Complete Mouth Care System safe for nursing mothers? I am concerned with exposing my child to too much fluoride but I think I have a cavity and would like to try to improve my oral health.

    • The Zellies Complete Mouth Care System has been safely used by pregnant moms for decades and decades! I used it myself while pregnant and nursing – and there is no way to give “too much fluoride” to the baby by using this system yourself. Your own oral health is vital at this time – and it is a shame if you end up with a cavity. The toxicity of fillings is a big worry – work hard to avoid sealants and fillings as much as possible!

      Many studies have shown that mothers who chew pure xylitol gum (like Zellies) can limit the risk of transferring cavity bacteria from their mouth to their children. Studies show that at 6 years old, children of mothers who chewed xylitol gum had 80-85% less chance of cavities, than kids in the control groups. When your baby has teeth erupting – wipe them with a solution of xylitol crystals dissolved in water, a few times every day. Recent studies show that this can offer long-term protection to the baby teeth – preventing them from cavities. This kind of help is essential if you plan to breast feed your baby for an extended period of time.

      Good luck with your life as a new mom! Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We LOVE to help moms keep their own teeth – and their family’s teeth – as healthy as possible.

  • Sylvia says:

    Dr. Ellie .
    I came across your page from a posting on a group blog on childrens teeth. I am in need of information on how to address cavitites and prevent future ones in my 3 year’s mouth. He currently has 2 small cavities and all I was told by the dentist to keep brushing and watch and wait.

    I feel desperate to find something to help him. He is a good eater. He loves fruits, vegatables, meats. grains and all kinds of goodies. We occassionally do have juice but it is possibly every couple of days or so. He drinks water during the day and with most meals. We dont do candy or anything of the dried fruits.

    I was hoping to get specific directions on best way to deal with curing and helping prevent future cavities. Any information would be helpful.

    Thank you so much,

    • We have a comprehensive outline about how to care for children’s teeth in our latest booklet “Zellies Xylitol” ( link below) or if you have time ( and I doubt that with a 3 year old!) you can read Kiss YOur Dentist Goodbye and learn details about decay and how cavities happen. Basically, if your habits are good ( and you mention that yours are) then you simply must protect your son’s teeth after eating and drinking with Zellies ( probably using our Polar Bears or Cool Fruit Mints).

      For daily cleaning: a 3 year old may not like the taste of Crest Cavity Protection toothpaste, but if he does, that’s great! Put a “rice-grain” amount on a clean toothbrush and apply this to his damaged teeth – the ones with the cavities. Crest Cavity Protection paste has “ingredients” that can help teeth to heal. To mask the taste (or if you cannot get toothpaste in his mouth) then use a drop of ACT rinse (? bubblegum) on your toothbrush. Most kids like this taste! A little fluoride is good to strengthen teeth and help them heal.

      Don’t forget that cavities are a disease – and ponder where these germs came from. The more I talk with people, the more I wish everyone understood that this is a transmissible disease. Study after study shows that parents can eat xylitol during the first two years of a child’s life and cut their child’s risk for cavities by 80-90%. That is the message we need to spread to young families – especially ones who have bad teeth in their family. Here is a link to the xylitol booklet for you to see, HERE

      • Sara says:

        Hello, i have a 16mos old who already has cavities on her top front teeth. I have weaned her off her nithtime and nap bottle but now I can’t get her to drink milk any other way. I’m really concerned about her lacking the nutrients in milk. Since i took her to the dentist i have been bushing with xylotol toothpaste in combination with Tom’s of maine. In my desperation i’ve been thinking of other ways i can get my daughter to drink milk. If i include a teaspoon of xylotol in her nap bottle with milk, will that be of any help? I also plan on getting the zellies bears to incorporate in her diet.

        • I think there is some confusion about milk’s effects on teeth, besides – if you are wiping the teeth with xylitol – you will not have the germs that make cavities. All family members should be using xylitol ( especially anyone who has had a cavity in the last couple of years) – don’t forget these germs are transmissible.

          Cows milk is actually good for teeth – and personally I recommend Organic Whole Milk. You can dilute this with water if you want to – but don’t use skim milk – the ratio of fats to sugar is quite different. You can put a half-teaspoon of xylitol in the milk if you like, and this will make it an even better drink for teeth! My children often went to bed with a bottle of diluted whole milk ( I had 3 babies in 3 years) and their teeth are great!

          Formula milk, on the other hand, is a problem for teeth. Anyone who has mixed formula powder knows how “sticky” this is. It is formula milk that you must worry about ( and also maybe skim milk – because the sugar content is not balanced with the fat content).

          When you get rid of cavity bacteria with xylitol, you will not have to worry.
          Just be sure NEVER to put juice of any kind in a baby bottle – even diluted!All juice is acidic and will destroy teeth quickly.

          I hope this helps you – let me know if you have other questions or concerns about baby bottles.

  • Angela DiPaolo says:

    Hi Dr. Ellie,

    I wanted to write to you with a success story! I found your site about 4 years ago when my youngest son was diagnosed with early childhood dental caries. At first, all I noticed was a small dark spot on my son’s front tooth. I immediately took him to our family dentist (whom I adore). After examining my son’s teeth, our dentist recommended that we see a pediatric dentist for treatment. I took my son to 2 different pediatric dentists and they both said the same thing…that my son needed to be sedated and have his 4 front teeth extracted. I was floored and disheartened. I knew deep down in my heart that I did not want to do this. That is when I started searching for an alternative treatment. By the grace of God, I found you.

    I started using your suggested treatment for toddlers: a drop of Bubblegum Act to “brush” teeth, along with Zellies Xylitol crystals in his water that he sipped at night and throughout the day. He also munched on Zellies mints and gum. In fact, my whole family eats Zellies mints and gum and uses the complete mouth care system.

    I was reluctant to take my youngest son (who is now 6 years old) to the dentist, for fear that I would be scolded and reprimanded for not treating his front teeth in the “traditional” way. Recently, his front teeth started to get loose, so I took him back to our family dentist for a checkup. I told her ahead of time that I had chosen not to pull his teeth and had been treating him with Xylitol

    His checkup was wonderful! Even though his teeth are not perfect to look at (they are chipped and have brown and black spots), our dentist said that she was amazed at how well they had held up over the past 4 years. His x-rays showed that his permanent teeth were getting ready to erupt and that they were very healthy. She said that we could just wait and let his teeth fall out naturally.

    I must say, that when I begin using your system, my son’s teeth were very sensitive when I brushed them. After about 2 months of using the Bubblegum Act and Xylitol crystals in his water, he did not experience any pain or sensitivity and has had no pain at all ever since.

    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I also want to let other parents know that your system really works!

    Keep doing what you do!


  • Julie says:

    Hi Dr. Ellie,

    I have some questions about fluoride varnish. I see you recommend it in your book, and our four-year-old with cavities has been getting it every 3-6 months. We had originally been told we needed surgery with eight crowns! Thanks to your recommendations, a good dentist, a few small hand-packed fillings in an office, and God’s mercy, everything is stabilized now. We do use a lot of xylitol & zellies bears!.

    I am now at a point where I wonder about fluoride exposure and hope you can help me weigh the good and bad with varnish. The dentist says that there is little ingestion from the varnish…but this doesn’t make sense to me since it is all going in her mouth. Obviously she ingests what doesn’t stick to her teeth, and it would seem to me that even the amount stuck to her teeth gets ingested as it wears off. Should this be a concern? Other ingestion she gets is only through water and a tiny smudge of regular Crest each night.

    In addition, I am wondering a few other things about this varnish:

    Our 7-month-old baby is just starting to get his 3rd tooth. We are using xylitol at least once a day on him and aiming for a few more times a day. The dentist wants to start fluoride varnish on him at 1 year of age so he doesn’t get cavities like his sister. Is this worth the ingestion as prevention, or is xylitol enough? I do plan on extended nighttime nursing with him if he wants it.

    Finally, as to how varnish works…does it coat the teeth and prevent food and saliva from reaching the teeth? Does a lot of brushing brush it off? Does it bond with the teeth somehow? Should I still be using a tiny bit of crest, or is the fluoride release from the varnish enough on the teeth?

    Thank you for your continued help in all this! As the previous person wrote: We do thank you from the bottom of our heart for your work to help parents and children.


  • Laura says:

    Hi Dr. Ellie,

    I have started your complete mouth system- and loving it. I recently went to the dentist and found out I had 10 caries (that on reflection I attribute to two pregnancies, 6 years of breastfeeding and periods of elimination diets). Due to being at high risk of caries my dentist also prescribed a prescription only toothpaste- neutrafluor 5000 plus (5000ppm) containing 1.1 w/w neutral sodium flouride. The only other ingredients it mentions is sodium benzoate and sodium saccharin. I was thinking of also wiping this on the teeth after the ACT rinse as it is higher in flouride. What is your suggestion? Should I not complicate the system? Also what are your thoughts on tooth mouse?

    Thank you for your help. Your advice has changed my families oral health future. : )

    • I never recommended a strong fluoride in any form for a variety of reasons – mainly because I have never seen any benefits and often the results are not as good as when patients use ACT rinse regularly. I wonder if stronger fluoride damages the natural biofilm – which is necessary for tooth mineralization or maybe it affects healthy mouth bacteria in some way.
      You could use the Complete Mouth Care System (without any additions or subtractions) for a few months and go back to your dentist for an evaluation. I think you will need to keep quiet that you are not following their instructions in order to have a true evaluation and allow them to have a positive attitude towards you. Most dentist are not happy if you ignore their advice or use something different. Here is a link to an amusing few comments: LINK

  • Kara Bianchi-Rossi says:

    Hi Dr. Ellie,
    I have a son who is 3.5 years old and has 4 cavities all on his 2 top back molars and 2 bottom back molars. I have had 2 different opinions and both say he needs a sterling cap on 1 tooth and the rest are cavities, but he will need to be put under GA to have the work done. I am a mother who is as holistic as I can be and have a lot of reservations about putting my small son under GA for dental work. Do you have any suggestions for me so I can possibly avoid GA?

    Thank you,

    • Hi Kara. You have no idea how many mothers are shocked to find out that their children have cavities.
      Be aware that today we have a pandemic of cavities in small children in the US – even for families – like yours – that eat a healthy holistic diet and who brush their kids teeth regularly.
      You are not alone – this is a major problem because people do not understand what is going on in the mouth of a young child and how cavity bacteria are transmissible.
      Anyone who has had a cavity and is interacting with your child may have infected your son. This can be direct family – like a Mom or Grandmother – or from day care, a nanny or babysitter – even playmates.
      Don’t stop enjoying social interactions because we NEED to share bacteria with each other – it is the HEALTHY way Nature intended us to build a healthy body and develop a healthy mouth.
      The problem is that we must nurture healthy mouth bacteria and not the ones that cause cavities. There are about 900 kinds of healthy bacteria that live in the mouth and only one strain of cavity-forming Strep mutans that is a real problem.
      Xylitol is the ONLY way to feed the good mouth bacteria while getting rid of the bad, cavity-forming ones. Xylitol does this in a very clever way – by making cavity-bacteria slippery – so they fall off teeth when you brush them.
      I would not hurry to have a GA if I were the decision maker.. Let’s talk more about your son’s case and let me know if you have any X rays or photos – even an iPhone picture – so I can see how bad these cavities are. If possible I will suggest you wait, get rid of the disease in your family – and check these teeth again in a few months – hopefully when the decay is under control and has perhaps reversed a bit. If the teeth need fixing later – as your son reaches school age – then this work can then be done with a local anesthetic and not need sedation and the risks that such treatment carries.

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