Saturday, July 11, 2009

Xylitol mouth rinse?

Hi Dr. Ellie, 

I notice that in your system, you recommend using ACT fluoride rinse, yet you have very good things to say about xylitol. Is the reason for using a fluoride rinse, (like ACT), instead of a xylitol rinse because the fluoride rinse does a better job remineralizing the teeth? Or is the reason simply that it is very difficult to find xylitol mouth rinses? (Or perhaps for some other reason?) Thanks so much for your help and for your wonderful site and products! 

All Good Medicine!


Hi M,

Thanks for your question!

I am a huge fan of xylitol, as you noticed!
Xylitol restores good bacteria balance in the mouth (providing you eat enough of it) reduces plaque deposits for better gum and tooth health, and (as if that were not enough ) xylitol helps remineralize and repair deeper layers of enamel that have lost their strength.

The dilute concentration of sodium fluoride in ACT does only one thing it repairs the outermost surface of teeth. I like to refer to this outside surface as the "skin" of the tooth.

Xylitol repairs the "flesh" layer (the deeper layers of the enamel).
Imagine that you had a cut or wound in your skin you need both the flesh and the skin to heal.

This outer layer can heal and become particularly strong if you use the dilute sodium fluoride in an acidic environment.

This is why I recommend using ACT after the acidic rinse, Listerine. When you use the ACT in this way, the repairs to the "skin" are even more perfect. The new crystals that form are stronger (making enamel more acid-resistant) and smoother (making your tooth surface smoother, so it feels cleaner and looks brighter).

ACT, used in this way, can actually make your teeth stronger than they could otherwise be.
When a tooth is more acid resistant it will better resist damage from foods, drinks, acidic saliva and from grinding teeth.

Xylitol is terrific, but it cannot perform this strengthening of the outer surface of teeth.

On the other hand, if people only used fluoride, it heals the outside of the tooth but not the inside. Older dentists like me will remember the frustration of drilling into a small hole in an almost perfect tooth, to find mushy tooth decay (infected with bacteria) under the hard outer shell of enamel. Dilute fluoride has no effect on the disease of tooth decay its only effect is healing the outermost layer.

The combined use of xylitol and fluoride eliminates this concern, because the xylitol kills off the harmful bacteria and promotes deeper healing while the fluoride takes care of the surface. These two products work in harmony and produce results not possible when either products is used alone.

I know that xylitol rinse sounds like a good idea but be careful the xylitol rinses I have seen were acidic or had negating ingredients.

Hope this answers your question,


Ellie Phillips DDS
26 Corporate Woods
Rochester, NY 14623

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