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Interesting and helpful; however, I had to stop following Dr. Ellie's system after 9 months
on August 22, 2012
Unfortunately, after about nine months of diligently practicing her oral health routine, I needed to stop following Dr. Ellie's system because of some negative outcomes. (If you wish to skip to them now, I describe them at the very end of this review.)
I do not expect that most people would have the same problematic issues with the program as I did. I think that Dr. Ellie's system can be helpful to many people, and I am glad that I tried it out. I learned a lot about oral hygiene by reading her writings. I feel that her program improved my gum pockets and nerve sensitivity during the time that I employed it.
My initial review
My three-month update
My nine-month update
Initial review: 5 stars
Kudos to Dr. Ellie, who created a simple (and relatively inexpensive) process that improved her patients' health, and then published the entire process online, for free. I am grateful to her.
It is odd that there aren't very many dentists out there in the US (at least as far as I am aware) who speak to the general public in so honest and freely a fashion as Dr Ellie does about what they think does work and does NOT work in their area of expertise.
My review here is mainly about her program.
In the comments section under my review, I will post the website address for Dr. Ellie's free pdf overview of her program.
A note about the book - it seems as if the book does not contain all the pertinent information that it could have, because greater detail (often quite helpful detail) on several of the key points is introduced piecemeal in the author's blog. It takes a lot of time and patience to sift through the blog archives to find topics of interest to oneself to see if there is any further information on the process that might be important.
Perhaps if a second edition is published, it could be rounded out with a lot of this extra information from Dr. Ellie's various websites.
I gleaned the following steps from the online information that is freely-offered by Dr. Ellie. It is an accurate reflection of her current procedure (summer 2012), as far as I know, but I *have* found some conflicting information that was written by her at different points of time, so possibly this isn't the exact procedure anymore.
1. rinse 60 seconds with Closys antiseptic oral rinse (she recommends NOT adding the optional flavor drops to the Closys), making sure to bathe any areas of gum problems well with the liquid
2. brush for 2 minutes with Crest Original Cavity Protection Regular Paste using a soft toothbrush and a good brushing technique
3. rinse with Listerine original formula (or a diluted form of it if the full-strength is too strong for you; even a couple of drops in water is okay to start off with) for 30 seconds
4. rinse with ACT original alcohol-free anticavity fluoride rinse (she recommends the green one/mint flavor) for anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes (she said in one blog post that for whiter teeth, 60 seconds seems to be ideal for the ACT rinse - perhaps longer than this might impart a slight stain to the teeth).
At no time in those steps are you supposed to rinse your mouth out with water. (A lot of people seem to be rinsing with water between some of the steps, but that will lessen the effectiveness.)
Do this process in the morning and the evening - the ideal time span is at 12 hour intervals.
If you can, leave the mouth undisturbed for an hour afterwards so the ACT has time to work on the teeth. (Dr. Ellie says that she actually does her morning routine after she's been awake for quite a while and has had a few cups of coffee first.)
Additionally, expose mouth to xylitol 5 times a day. This can be by xylitol mints, gum, dry xylitol powder/crystals (1/4th teaspoon each time) mixed with one's saliva, or a xylitol powder/crystals + water solution. You don't have to swallow the xylitol if you don't want to, but for most people it doesn't cause any harm if they do swallow it. The best time for xylitol exposure is after eating or drinking.
If you don't have access to xylitol after meals or drinking acidic beverages, one thing you can to do to help the teeth recover is to eat a little bit of a dairy product like cheese or yogurt.
On her blog, she has recently written that you can floss if you want to, if you feel that you are good at flossing and are not cutting into the gums. Her initial recommendation not to floss was based on many of her patients who first came to her *already having bad oral health* and she discovered that if they did floss, they were flossing so awkwardly that they were doing more damage to their gums than was worth it, and she told them to stop doing it.
My main concern before starting Ellie's system:
I've had sensitive teeth for about 15 years and have been using sensitive toothpaste (Sensodyne Extra Whitening, which does not have sodium lauryl sulfate, is the best I've tried) for all that time on the recommendation of dentists, and I was afraid to let go of the Sensodyne to switch to Ellie's old-school Crest, because of the pain that surely would be lurking just beyond the analgesic-sort of magic that the potassium nitrate does on the nerves. Even if Ellie's process lived up to the hype of reversing the tooth sensitivity, it seemed logical that there might be an interim period during which time the Sensodyne numbing would taper off before the new process' healing would reach a threshold of potency.
[Update after 3 months: I have not had even one tiny problem with sensitivity after stopping the Sensodyne and starting Ellie's system. Amazing!]
My secondary concern:
I'd like to naturally whiten my teeth if possible (simply by following Dr. Ellie's process), because my love of hot tea (which is non-negotiable!) has stained them. If any whitening happened, it would be a great bonus.
[Update after 3 months: My teeth are lighter and smoother. People have started to ask me if I have used something to lighten my teeth. They are still a bit yellower than I would like, but are whiter than they've been in 15 years.]
Dr. Ellie says to just give her system a try for a short while, even just for a month, and see for oneself if there is any improvement or worsening. I am glad I did.
Notes on purchasing the products:
The research into the power of xylitol shows beyond a doubt that it's worth using the gum/mints and rinsing with the powder occasionally.
I looked into the available xylitol gums which don't have aspartame and other unnecessary chemicals, and I settled on Xylichew gum and mints which are made in Norway out of birch wood. The peppermint is a nice flavor and the gum lasts for the 15 minutes that I chew it. The spearmint flavor is also fine. Their products are available on Amazon.
I ordered a 16-ounce package of powdered/crystal xylitol from Swanson Vitamins because their large package is made out of birch in the USA and is a good price. (Note that Swanson's other xylitol product, individual serving-size packets, is made from corn, I think, and I don't recall whether the xylitol in those little packets is imported from China or not.) This item is available on Amazon, and also on the company's own website.
Dr. Ellie also sells her own line of xylitol mints and gum. She sources her xylitol from Finland birch. I had a look at these items on her retail site, but in the end I decided to go with the Xylichew products. Update: I have noticed recently that her xylitol products are listed directly on Amazon too.
The Closys website offers a $1 off coupon (it had been $2 before September) for purchasing Closys from a bricks-and-mortar store, and you can print it twice per month.
Closys isn't stocked at a lot of typical American bricks and mortar retailers, but it is at most CVS and Walgreen's, apparently.
I found Closys online prices to be much more than I could get it for at local stores, considering store discounts like CVS' frequent 25%-off-everything and the Closys printable coupons.
However, I found that the packages of Closys rinse at all of my local stores were really old (even though the rinse bottles don't have expiration dates on them - which I think they should, the free sample of toothpaste that is included inside the packages of rinse expired over a year ago, so those products were manufactured quite a long time ago, since toothpaste has a shelf life of a couple of years. You can read more about that on my customer review on the Closys listing here at Amazon.) Anyway, I decided I'd rather get fresh Closys by ordering it from Amazon.
If you just want to try it for a few days and/or want to have a handy travel-size of Closys, a mini-bottle of it is an Amazon "add on" product now for only a couple of dollars.
ACT, Listerine, Crest
These are available at most general retail shops, supermarkets and drugstores in the US.
The manufacturers' sites don't seem to have coupons at the moment, but there are coupons once in a while in the coupon booklets that come in Sunday newspapers.
Usually these products on sale at one store or the other, so it's worth checking around if you need to buy a new supply. (I got my first bottle of the Listerine for ninety-nine cents at CVS, on sale from three ninety-nine.)
Per ounce, the very large bottles of Listerine are a much better deal than the smaller ones. If the very large bottle is unwieldy to use with your daily Dr. Ellie routine, you can buy one small bottle of it to keep with your toothbrush etc., and periodically refill it from the large bottle that you keep stored away.
I find that I need to use less of all the rinses than is indicated on the bottles' instructions. In order not to swig directly from the bottles (to keep things sanitary), I use a little cup that I pour a small amount into for each rinsing step, and rinsing with about 1/3rd of the quantities recommended seems to be adequate for me.
At the risk of sounding pretty nerdy-- after 2 months of doing the procedure twice a day, I checked out the quantities I had left of the 4 items. I had used:
about 1.5 ounces of Crest (25% of a 6.4 ounce tube)
about 28 ounces of Clo-sys (90% of a 32 ounce container)
about 500 ml/17 ounces of Listerine (an entire 500 ml/17 ounce bottle)
about 400 ml/14 ounces of Act (75% of a 532 ml/18 ounce bottle)
I do try to measure out the same amount of each liquid, but obviously have used them up at different rates. If they all had the nifty built-in dosing device that the Act bottle does, it would be easier to pour out less of the others. The unwieldy nature of the large Closys bottle encourages over-pouring.
Because of various sales and coupons, I got my first supply of the 4 products for about fifteen dollars total. So, if they lasted for 2 to 3 months, that wasn't too bad.
The Xylichew gum and mints are kind of expensive, so I use the Swanson xylitol powder for most of my daily xylitol exposures, and have 1 or 2 pieces of gum and/or 1 or 2 mints per day.
Apparently she's not a working dentist now - she lectures, sells her product line, writes, and helps run her family's restaurant in New York state -- I learned this in an online article about her from her local newspaper which came up tonight when I did a yahoo search for "Dr Ellie review".
The complaint posed by some reviewers here that she has not researched the effects of this system experimentally/scientifically is perhaps a bit naive about just how expensive and difficult such an undertaking is, even for university professors, unless it's supported by government or corporate research grants. It would require a lot of money, time, willing patients, and paid research assistants. Dr. Ellie (even though she used to be a professor at the University of Rochester, apparently) is just a lone dentist and would presumably not have at her disposal the resources to do such testing. This dental process, even if it worked amazingly well, would not provide the kind of profit streams to corporations to justify their funding proper studies into it. It might behoove the government to fund research into this kind of inexpensive, low-tech process, if it could dramatically improve the health of millions of citizens, but there are probably hundreds of promising ingredients/procedures/exercises that are in the same boat: unfortunately, that's the way our modern health system/society works.
One interesting negative review that I read about her system by an actual dentist (it seems surprisingly hard to find online other dentist's comments on her ideas) was by a Florida dentist who says on his website that he is the personal dentist of one of Dr. Ellie's parents, and that he had met Dr. Ellie personally and spoken with her about her system. In his blog post, he said that he was not very happy with parts of her system, and spelled out what he would advise patients to do instead, if they want to remineralize their teeth. (Do an internet search for Mark Kraver at Cape Dental in Florida, then do a search on his site for "Ellie", and the post I mention here will come up.)
If you don't live in the US and can't find the exact products she recommends, Ellie sells the supplies for the entire program on her site and will ship internationally. When I checked to see how much it was, the set of 3 rinses + toothpaste that I got for 15 dollars (admittedly, on sale and using coupons) was I think about 45 dollars on her site, but if it's your best way to access them, it's probably worth it.
Update after three months on the program: 5 stars
It has been great - the results far exceed my expectations!
* My teeth are noticably lighter in color. They look less yellow, less stained now. Relatives (who don't know about my new mouthcare routine) have started mentioning that my teeth look whiter.
* I have not had any tooth sensitivity since the moment 3 months ago that I stopped using Sensodyne and started using Dr. Ellie's system, which is amazing since I *needed* to use Sensodyne for the previous 12 or so years (and during that time, I still had some sensitivity that the Sensodyne did not take care of).
* I have not had a dental checkup since I started this, so I don't know about any changes to the condition of my gums and tooth surfaces, but they seem to me to be healthier than before.
* I would encourage anyone to give this inexpensive, easy, free-to-learn-about program at least a one-month trial.
Update after nine months on the program: 3 stars
Unfortunately, after diligently practicing Dr. Ellie's system for about nine months, I needed to stop doing it because of three negatives that I was experiencing:
1. The first negative was that my teeth were starting to look darker in color - I think this was probably due to the Listerine rinse and/or the Act rinse.
2. The second negative was that I developed stubborn and embarrassing perioral dermatitis, which I suspect was triggered by the mint flavor of the green ACT rinse (mint flavor is a known trigger for perioral dermatitis). I then switched to the red ACT rinse with a cinnamon flavor, but that made the rash/scaling/bumps worse. I had to stop using any flavored rinse in order to allow the dermatitis to heal. (Although I know that some people are sensitive to sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste, that was not the cause of my dermatitis, because using toothpaste without it didn't have any effect.)
3. The third and main negative was that the black-line sort of tooth staining that began to develop on my teeth around the five-month mark. When learning about her program, I had found various statements by Dr. Ellie that this black-line stain might develop around the six-month point, and that it could be cleaned off easily by a dental hygienist, and would not return. Therefore, I was not worried when I saw it forming on my teeth, and I booked a cleaning with a dentist. The stains were moderately bad, and I was embarrassed by them, but I thought they would be eliminated by one dental cleaning and then not return. Unfortunately, the black plaque re-appeared two weeks after my dental visit, and continued to get worse and spread farther around my teeth. The visible black plaque spider-web type lines made it appear to strangers as if I did not take care of my oral hygiene in the slightest. I was self-conscious about opening my mouth in public. I even tried to gently scrape the lines off myself with a dental pick from the drugstore, but it would grow right back.
I researched the black-line stain more, and found a few internet mentions of it by other dental professionals -- it may be a type of dark-colored plaque that can grow in mouths (especially children's and women's) which are paradoxically too clean and too well-taken-care-of! It can occur when the balance in the mouth is altered by killing too many of the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. A lack of good bacteria can give this tenacious dark plaque free rein.
For these three reasons, after about 9 months on the system I decided to stop using it and just to use the Crest toothpaste, original flavor, on its own, twice a day. My teeth began to look whiter in color. Even better, the black-line stain/plaque disappeared after about 2 weeks (even without having a second dental cleaning and without any further scraping at home with the dental pick) and I have not seen any hint of that dark plaque since.
After giving up the Listerine, ACT, and Clo-sys rinses, I worried that my breath might get worse again, or that maybe my tooth sensitivity that I had felt for so many years before trying Dr. Ellie's system might return, but fortunately I have not had any trouble so far with just using the Crest by itself.