Tooth Brushing Tip

We all know we need to brush our teeth to maintain our healthy pearly whites. But are you brushing properly for optimum gum health?

In this quick 1-minute video, I explain how to maximize your daily brushing for ultimate gum health!

Categories: Gum Disease, Mouth Care, Prevention

Tags: ,

  • Miss B. says:

    Thank you for sharing, Dr. Ellie!

  • Randy says:

    how does rinsing ones mouth with listerine effect the beneficial bacterial flora that resides in the mouth,

    • Currently dentists have little idea about what “constitutes” healthy mouth bacteria. It’s the same with doctors, who do not know for sure what constitutes a healthy digestive flora. We know certain bacteria have benefits and are useful. We also know certain kinds are associated with disease.

      There is research going on now to discover what kind of bacteria compose a healthy mouth. A healthy mouth is defined as one with no cavities, no sensitivity, no plaque, no bad breath and no gum disease or bleeding gums. The trouble is only about 5% of adults in the U.S. have this kind of mouth – and don’t require cleanings: they have sustainable oral health, year after year.

      I fit into this category, despite the fact my parents had bad teeth and gums – and I am originally British. I am currently being tested to find out what bacteria are in my mouth. We are also testing others who have been using my protocol for years. From our results it looks as if a healthy mouth has a wide range of different kinds of bacteria at a low percentage. In other words healthy is when there is a diverse ecology of mouth bacteria.

      I have used Listerine as part of my protocol for 30+ years and so I would say that the original formulations of Listerine, when used the way I suggest, will allow a healthy and diverse population of bacteria to flourish. This state appears to keep pathogenic and disease producing bacteria at bay.

      I hope this is the answer you were looking for. More studies should be done on the people who have successfully used my program. We should test for nitric oxide levels etc….to learn more, but I am confident we will discover great results.

      • Randy says:

        thank you for your explanation

        • Keep checking the health of your gums and don’t let your gums deteriorate – EVER!!
          If something isn’t working – make changes!
          Bleeding gums can be reversed with correct care but allowing gum recession or disease to continue – NOT good.

      • ddsedwards says:

        Hi Dr. Ellie, I have a few thoughts about the oral microbiome (the collection of bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc., and the effects of their genetic expressions). I think for the 95% of people who are not in the rarified atmosphere of excellent oral health, they need a combination of your Ultimate Oral Health System to try to eradicate bad microbes — AND a means of re-establishing a diverse group of some known, good microbes to help restore a semblance of balance in the oral microbiome. It only takes the balance of good to bad to fall below 85% good, and then you start getting symptoms of disease. In my opinion, since the mouth is the beginning of the gut, and it has one of the most diverse sets of micro-environments, it needs a wide diversity of good “bugs” to keep the bad ones in check. I believe that many of the bad “bugs” are like nasty weeds, and many of the good ones (probiotics) are like delicate flowers. You know that weeds can regrow pretty quickly and adapt to harsh environments; whereas, flowers need to be planted and re-planted, babied, pruned, fertilized, etc. I think in many people, the repopulation of good bacteria is haphazard at best because of the omnipresence of fast foods, junk foods, sugar, and not eating enough fermented foods. Thus, if the mouth is part of the gut, and if it is anything like the gut, and if the gut microbiome can become unbalanced and result in intestinal distress, then I believe the mouth can suffer similarly. We may soon find out that periodontal disease is something like “irritable bowel of the mouth”, because IBD/IBS and periodontal disease actually share a common bacterium — Porphyromonas gingivalis — which causes ulcerations in gums as well as intestinal mucosa. Anyway, sorry for the long post, but if you want to discuss it more, I’ll be happy to share more information. Cheers, Dr. Steve Edwards

        • You always have wonderful information Steve! You were the one who introduced me to the idea of using floss when you have toothpaste on your teeth. What an excellent and sensible idea! You know I have far less confidence in floss than you – BUT now I tell those who want to floss, to do it when they have toothpaste on their teeth. It makes so much sense. You are the best!! Cheers. Ellie

  • Maureen says:

    I have oral lichen planus and cannot tolerate ANY mint flavored dental products but I’m interested in your methods. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    • Think of your mouth as a garden. Lichen planus is like moss, which spreads across poor soil.
      The secret is to have sufficient healthy grass and flowers to keep this lichen planus away. I believe you should consider digestive probiotics first, and possibly oral probiotics in the second 8 weeks. I suggest you worry less about “cleaning” your mouth and more about ways to cultivate a healthy “garden” of bacteria in your mouth.

      Diet and nutrition make a difference – of course. No soda and limit acidic and corrosive products like whitening, baking soda or peroxide products.
      I suggest an 8 weeks program – when you use a good digestive probiotic and eat as healthy as possible.
      Use Zellie’s after every meal, snack or drink.

      If you cannot use mints – try Zellie’s fruit or cinnamon gum or ZellieBears (no mints in them) or just granular xylitol off a spoon at the end of every meal.
      Mints and gum make it easier to stick to a routine, since they are transportable. The key is having xylitol after EVERY thing you eat or drink.

      The Complete Mouth Care System is perfect too – but if your mouth is sore, begin with the first two steps of the system: Closys (as a pre-rinse) and regular Crest toothpaste to brush. If you can tolerate Original Listerine, and bubblegum ACT – this will speed recovery and balanced oral health. In the next 8 weeks if there has not been a complete reversal of your mouth condition let me know and I suggest you try an adhesive oral probiotic at night: a product called renuzoral. Most oral probiotics do not stay in the mouth long enough to be effective – but this may help: LINK

      • Thank You Dr. Ellie for referencing my dental probiotic. I sure appreciate it. We are getting some good results with it. I would like to share the information with you sometime at your convenience. By the way, my new company is RENUzORAL, LLC and the name of the probiotic is Orchestra®. I call it Orchestra because it helps your mouth microbes play beautiful music together. 🙂 Dr. Edwards

  • Yoh says:

    Hi Dr. Ellie, very important question of mine please read and reply!

    Besides Closys, how do I raise the pH of my mouth and reharden my enamel?

    I have anxiety over teeth ever since my first cavity at 17. I don’t brush them often as I should because I always worry that the acidity has softened the enamel, and brushing will remove the enamel and never grow back.

    I am lucky to never have gotten cavities. This was due to my high dairy diet as a child. The cavity happened after I ate oatmeal and gave up dairy. This means I had less calcium, more phytic acid (from oatmeal), and I suddenly got a deep cavity to the root for the first time ever.

    I think it was caused by my mouths acidity and my lack of calcium because oatmeal/phytic acid prevents calcium absorption.

    What should I do? I have bought pH test strips online, I want to use them to test my saliva pH and wait 30 minutes to brush. Thank you.

    • Xylitol, xylitol, xylitol! Your best friend is xylitol! Xylitol alkalizes the mouth to prevent acidic damage. Eat one or two Zellie’s mints or gum after every meal, snack or drink – to cut the time of acidic damage from hours to seconds or minutes each day. Why wait 30 minutes after meals – leaving your teeth in an acidic state? Eat xylitol and see the acidity disappear in seconds.The health of teeth is the sum of time that teeth are attacked by acids vs. the time they are re-mineralizing. It’s all about balance – which part of the equation is the longest time: helping or harming?

      Closys is great before brushing because it alkalizes the mouth by reacting with saliva (particularly acidic saliva) to produce oxygen – which cleans and protects the mouth. There are many factors besides acidity that need to be considered for tooth health, so try not to be fixated on acidity! Why not use the Complete Mouth Care System and Zellie’s to help build your dental confidence? It only takes a few weeks to feel and see the difference.

  • Russell says:

    I have heard that glycerin in toothpaste prevents remineralization. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks for your information!


    • I always advise people to avoid glycerin in toothpaste and mouth rinses. Zellie’s makes all their xylitol gum and mint products specifically without glycerin for this reason. I think Zellie’s may be the only chewing gum on the market without glycerin. This is because of concern that glycerin interferes and may prevent remineralization.

  • Paul says:


    Been dealing with gum recession for many years – likely due to several causes / factors. Anyhow, using the complete mouth care system for a month or so, and my gums seem to be looking better, possibly even slightly reversing recession on 1-2 teeth.

    I did have a quick question:

    With receding gums, I’ve noticed the area closest to the gum on each tooth has worn down over the last several years. Further, I’ve read about toothpaste abrasiveness, and found the recommended crest toothpaste to have a high number on the “relative dentin abrasion” scale as seen here:

    I wanted to confirm, do you still recommend the “crest original paste” for people with moderate to severe gum recession, or is there one with a lower RDA number that would be better?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    • There are several charts of toothpaste abrasiveness and scores seem to vary. Regular Crest usually scores around 106 and the scale always runs to 200+. Of course anything over 120 is a concern, but below this number I think fears may be generated by companies with products to sell i (i.e. it’s marketing to create fear for a competitor).
      Crest regular paste is still my choice – and it has randomized trials to show it can help rebuild teeth. Also my professional experience for 40 years, is that anyone who uses this paste exclusively enjoys sustainable oral health. Only when people switch did trouble start!
      Ensure to “massage” your gums as you brush -to generate circulation around the damaged areas ( so your blood in the gums can help fix and repair problems). Sometimes people use toothbrushes that are too soft to create circulation massage. They are scared of “hurting” their receding gums. You may want to try a “medium” brush and test it out to see if that improves things. I know it sounds counter-intuitive – but this change has been positive for many people who were told to use very soft brushes.

  • Andrea says:

    How much time should be spent on gum massage? Say, for the whole mouth? Should the brush be continually traveling as the circles are made, or are circles made in a stationary position for a length of time, then move on a little further and repeat? Should we be looking for a darker shade of pink to know that blood is circulating? Thank you.

    • It would seem impossible for me to “time” my brushing. It is more important to make sure that every part of the mouth has been give a little time – so maybe 10 seconds on each third of the jaw arch….so 30 seconds on the outside of the top arch…then 30 seconds on the inside of the top arch…and the same on the bottom arch…total around 2 minutes. You cannot see any color change – but healthy gums are usually a whitish-pink with a stippled look.

  • Wendy says:

    Dr Eliie,
    Could you please suggest some tooth brush brands for gum massage….or describe some features to look for in a brush for this purpose.
    Thank you

  • tacomamama says:

    Dr. Ellie,

    I have put my whole family (nine of us) on your method for the past 5 weeks and we are AMAZED at the results. We LOVE your toothbrushes and will never be able to go back to another. We also love the zellies gum and mints. My question is about the listerine. With so many of us in the house, the monthly cost of this program really adds up. I know it is cheaper than the dental work- but still, I can’t help but look for ways to cut back on cost a little. I have found coupons for the closys- so that really helps. We rotate your crystals from a spoon with the gum and mints. But Costco sells their kirkland cool mint mouthwash for more than 1/2 the cost of listerine and the ingredient list is identical. I am wondering if you are still firm in your belief that we should not vary from the listerine brand, or if you have been able to do any more testing that might prove otherwise. The savings for our large family would be HUGE.

    Thanks again for your wisdom. You book and products have been a great blessing to the health and happiness of our family.

    • If your family has healthy teeth – I’d say you could use the substitute product. If anyone has cavities or gum disease – stay with the original products until the problems have resolved.
      You could certainly use the cheaper Costco brand for cleaning your tooth brushes etc.
      Perhaps you should consider that the most critical ages for protecting teeth and gums are as new teeth erupt (age 6-12) and if any of your kids have braces…

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