Radical home dental care. March 16, 2012Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: Dr. Ellie Phillips, home dental care, home tooth care, radical home dental care, strong teeth, tooth care system, xylitol, Zellies
Our friend Ben gets a weekly finance e-newsletter that can be pretty eccentric. But I thought the author had really gone off the rails week before last when he wrote about dental care. Specifically, he was talking about a dentist’s radical system of home dental care that he had discovered and endorsed. What did that have to do with finance?
Well, plenty. Our friend Ben hastily revised my initial impression when our friend Rob revealed the size of his latest dental bill for his 23-year-old son, who is still in school but no longer covered by Rob’s dental insurance, which cuts off coverage based on age, not earning status. Ouch!
Our friend Ben’s and Silence Dogood’s health insurance doesn’t cover our own dental care, either, and as you doubtless know, a cleaning and X-rays—much less a filling or, God forbid, orthodontic surgery—can really add up. If your home dental care can make a dent in your dental bills, you’re definitely saving money, so it’s a financial issue after all.
Intrigued, I clicked on the link in the financial newsletter and found myself at the website of Dr. Ellie Phillips, DDS (www.drellie.com), author of the book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye. Here’s the home-care system that Dr. Ellie, as she prefers to be called, recommends:
* Rinse your mouth before brushing for 60 seconds with CloSYS, which neutralizes the acidity that makes teeth soft and vulnerable to pitting from abrasive toothpaste when we brush. (Don’t add the flavor packet that comes with the bottle of CloSYS; Dr. Ellie says it reduces the mouthwash’s effectiveness.) Note: Silence and I didn’t find the non-flavor of the CloSYS bad at all; it’s not much more intense than water.
* Brush your teeth, gums and tongue with a medium-soft brush and a basic sodium fluoride toothpaste (she recommends Crest Original Paste). Do not use toothpastes with whiteners, tartar control additives, stannous fluoride, triclosan, or sodium monofluorophosphate, which can harm your teeth, making them vulnerable to decay organisms. Dr. Ellie points out that many people don’t brush the gums in the front of their mouths, so make sure you don’t skip them.
* Disinfect your toothbrush after brushing by dipping it in Listerine, rinsing, and air-drying. Note: A great—and obvious—idea; of course, Silence and I had never thought to do this before.
* Rinse your mouth for 30 seconds with Listerine (Original, Cool Mint, and Vanilla Mint flavors only; make sure the bottle has the ADA—American Dental Association—shield of acceptance and has no ads for whitening, plaque, or tartar control) to disinfect. Note: We chose to try the Original flavor because I have fond childhood memories of it from my beloved maternal grandparents’ home. Whew! Is that strong stuff! The distinctive flavor and smell aren’t bad, but it fizzes in the mouth something fierce. Takes some getting used to, let me tell you.
* Finally, rinse your mouth for 30-60 seconds with ACT Anticavity Fluoride (again, look for the ADA shield, and choose Mint or Cinnamon flavors; avoid ACT Restore). Do not rinse off; the fluoride strengthens your teeth and should stay on the tooth surface as long as possible. Note: Silence and I are both cinnamon-lovers, so we chose the cinnamon flavor and liked it.
Dr. Ellie recommends brushing twice a day or, as she puts it, every 12 hours, since “Brushing every 12 hours is important because bacteria that grow on teeth become tubular or worm-like after this time.” She goes on to explain that this is when they start damaging your teeth, but frankly, the worm image is enough for us. Yucko.
Note: Obviously—we hope it’s obvious, anyway—you’re not supposed to swallow any of these rinses, or the toothpaste, for that matter. Just swish the rinses vigorously around in your mouth so you’re sure they come in contact with all surfaces of your teeth and (for the CloSYS and Listerine) gums and tongue.
Why no whitening, tartar control, or plaque control, you might be asking (as we did)? Apparently these all are abrasive enough to damage the enamel, leaving it vulnerable to decay-causing bacteria. (Remember those worms!) Dr. Ellie says that, using her system, your teeth will become whiter naturally, and to our astonishment, after only two weeks we’ve found that to be true.
There’s a final component to this system: xylitol. Dr. Ellie recommends eating 6-10 grams (2-3 teaspoons) of this birch-derived natural sweetener every day to combat acidity in the mouth (you’ll recall that acidity softens teeth, leaving them more vulnerable to decay-causing organisms) and remove harmful germs from plaque on your teeth. You can buy xylitol powder to add to beverages or foods in health food stores, but we think it’s easier to simply enjoy 100% xylitol mints. (We love the cinnamon and peppermint Spry xylitol mints we found at our local health food stores; Dr. Ellie also markets her own 100% xylitol mints, Zellies, which we haven’t tried.) She recommends eating 3-4 mints 5 times a day, after meals and snacks, so you’re spreading out the benefits of xylitol throughout the day.
As you know if you chew gum or look at the candy displays at any checkout counter, xylitol gum (like Trident and Dentyne) is big business, and our friend Ben isn’t dissing the cavity-fighting effectiveness of gum; I just can’t imagine why anybody would want to look the way people look when they chew gum (think cow/cud). Ever looked at anybody (including yourself) chewing gum? Not a pretty picture, to say the least. Doesn’t add much to the perception of intelligence quotient, either. D’oh! Not to mention the impact of repeatedly pulling on an adhesive substance if you have fillings. I’ll bet lots of dentists love gum (at least, as long as you’re chewing it and loosening your fillings)!
The good thing about gum (and mints, and sugar-free liquids like water and unsweetened tea and herb tea) is that it keeps the mouth environment moist. A dry mouth is apparently an open invitation to tooth decay, gum disease, and inflammation (now recognized as the cause of all non-alien diseases, from arthritis and heart disease to cancer).
But our friend Ben doesn’t think this is enough to offset the grossness factor of chewing gum. Frankly, I’d rather see somebody smoking: It smells worse, but is less revolting-looking. Drinking a little water, coconut water, or herb tea throughout the day (and by “little,” I mean a couple of swallows each time) will keep your mouth hydrated; a glass of room-temp water on the bedside table, also consumed in two-swallow portions, will keep you hydrated at night.
But I digress. Getting back to the dental-care routine, as you’ve seen, Silence and I decided to try it. You can buy everything you need to get started on Dr. Ellie’s website, but the newsletter guy said he found it all for much less at Wal*Mart. So we headed to our local pharmacy (CVS) and health food store (after not finding 100% xylitol mints at the pharmacy), and were able to acquire at least a 3-month supply of everything we needed for about $40. (A 6-month supply for one person.)
Yowie zowie! Compared to one trip to the dentist’s office, $40 isn’t bad. And to our amazement (astonishment, shock), we could feel a huge difference in our mouths after one trial. After 2 weeks, reddened, irritated gums have vanished, flossing (which we do before Dr. Ellie’s cleaning routine, despite the lack of mention on her site) now causes no bleeding, our tongues and gums look healthy, our teeth look vibrantly white, and our breath is always super-fresh. We couldn’t be more thrilled. (And, scofflaws that we are, we only brush our teeth and follow this regimen in the morning, and have a maximum of 6 xylitol mints a day, but we eat no sweets, sweetened drinks, and junk foods.)
No, we’re (sadly) not being paid to endorse this system, we’re just stunned by how well and how quickly it works. And Dr. Ellie, despite her book’s title, actually recommends heading to your dentist’s office for a thorough cleaning every six months. We couldn’t agree more; your teeth, like your eyes, are one of your most precious assets. But hey, wouldn’t it be great to never have to endure anything worse than a good cleaning? No drills, no Novocaine, no nothin’. Our friend Ben’s all for that.