When I first heard about oil pulling, I more than a little confused. Oil pulling?
My friend Shannon had told me about the practice, which involves swishing oil around in your mouth for up to 20 minutes every day to “pull” bad bacteria out from tight spaces in your teeth that would otherwise cause oral health problems.
Why would anyone want to swish oil around in their mouth for 20 whole minutes every morning? And who has time for that?
Turns out, oil pulling has some serious benefits, and research is starting to catch on to the fact that this practice could just promote the healthy shiny smile of your dreams without cosmetic dentistry.
Oil pulling dates back to India in Ayurvedic medicine, which traces its roots back nearly 5,000 years!
How does oil pulling work?
Oil pulling is pretty darn simple when you get down to it.
All you do is pop a tablespoon of oil into your mouth and swish it around for 20 minutes. Even 5 or 10 minutes can be beneficial!
You don’t need to vigorously swish the oil around in your mouth, nor should you. The practice is intended to be gentle and you simply go about your daily activities while you swish it around gently in your mouth.
But why does it work?
Oil is able to detoxify the mouth of harmful bacteria that could otherwise cause inflammation and disease. It’s different from mouthwash because mouthwash, just like an antibiotic, kills both the good and bad bacteria in your mouth.
With oil pulling, only the bad bacteria are pulled out with the oil, leaving you with healthy bacteria and a generally healthier smile.
But what does the research about oil pulling reveal?
Experts speculate that when combined with modern techniques like brushing and flossing, oil pulling can effectively prevent and even help reverse tooth decay!
My own experience with tooth decay and oil pulling has been an interesting one: a few months ago, I was taking pictures of my teeth like a normal person when I noticed a very small cavity on one of my canines.
This is an odd spot to have a cavity, but then again, my teeth are pretty odd. I’m genetically missing my laterals, so my canines are right next to my two front teeth. I promise it doesn’t look that weird–my canines are just about the bluntest canines I’ve ever seen.
So what is a girl without dental insurance to do? A tiny cavity like that, I figured some hardcore oil pulling would fix it right up. I’ve been oil pulling for a few months now (and watching my sugar intake), and that cavity? It’s nearly gone!
Coconut oil can treat gingivitis caused by plaque build up.
Research indicates that using coconut oil for the oil pulling practice can essentially treat gingivitis that’s caused by plaque buildup in the mouth.
Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease that involves inflammation of the gums. One of the symptoms of gum disease also happens to be chronic bad breath.
Nobody likes bad breath, let alone chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away with regular brushing and flossing.
Did you know that studies also show that when it comes to bad breath, oil pulling is as effective as mouthwash?
This means that oil pulling can not only help treat the root cause of your bad breath, but it can also give you fresher breath without killing all the good bacteria in your mouth!
Sesame oil and sunflower oil can prevent oral disease.
According to research, sesame oil used in the oil pulling practice can prevent oral disease. And it’s cheaper than mouthwash!
So whether you choose sesame or sunflower oil for oil pulling, they can help you prevent oral diseases and plaque buildup!
Sesame and sunflower oil are both from seeds, so they’re good oil pulling alternatives for people who are allergic to coconut or tree nuts in general.
Oil pulling may help reduce the chance for systemic diseases like heart disease.
Because oil pulling help reduces plaque and restores the balance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth, it may help reduce your chances for high blood pressure and heart disease!
This is because research links oral health to body health, and the healthier your mouth, the healthier your body!
Many people speculate that oil pulling can effectively prevent chronic disease and even help cure diseases, but so far, the research for this has been pretty limited.
You should only rely on oil pulling to help give you a healthy, clean mouth rather than to prevent or cure any disease!
Oil pulling can actually help clean your mouth.
Based on its swishing action combined with the fact that it “pulls” bad bacteria out, oil pulling can result in a cleaner, healthier mouth.
Although oil pulling has proven benefits for your smile, it shouldn’t replace your regular brushing and flossing routine. It’s an excellent supplemental practice that should be done before you brush in the morning!
So a healthier mouth: yes. A brush-free, floss-free alternative? No. Use oil pulling in conjunction with brushing and flossing for the best results.
Oil pulling may help whiten teeth.
Because it removes bacteria and helps you better manage your plaque, it might just help make your teeth whiter! Although dentists tend to be skeptical of this claim, many people find that it makes their smiles brighter.
You can also use essential oils with your oil for oil pulling in order to create a fresher, cleaner mouth that almost feels like you just used mouthwash (but without that awful burn)!
Did you know that coconut oil pulling can help cure oral thrush?
This means oil pulling with coconut oil can actually help to cure oral thrush!
Here are the best practices for oil pulling.
Oil pulling gives the most benefits when done with these best practices in mind!
The best oil to use is: coconut oil, but you can also use sesame oil or sunflower oil. Unrefined, organic oils are best regardless of what kind you choose to use!
The best time to do oil pulling is: first thing in the morning, before you brush. You should brush immediately afterwards.
In case you didn’t know, the best time to brush your teeth is also in the morning, before breakfast!
The best way to dispose of the oil is: in the trash. Not down the sink, and if you choose to spit it out on your lawn, try not to spit it on any flowers. It’s rather toxic and can make them die. Not kidding!
Since the used oil is full of bacteria that were in your mouth, it’s also crucial to remember never to swallow any of the oil. It all should be spit out when you’re done.
The best frequency for oil pulling is: once a day every day, but even a few times a week can be beneficial.
The best essential oils to mix with your oil are: clove essential oil and tea tree essential oil. Both of these can amp up the oil’s power to bring you a healthy smile!
Oil pulling can be an excellent supplemental practice for people who want healthier mouths, but it shouldn’t replace brushing and flossing.
Oil pulling can replace mouthwash, however, and can be used as an excellent bacteria remover for fresher breath and even treatment of gum disease!
I’ve noticed great results with oil pulling in addition to my regular oral care routine.
So what I want to know is: have you tried oil pulling? What’s been your experience? This practice has become wildly popular, but have you actually done it?