Oil Pulling Health Benefits For Teeth and Gums
What is it and How Does It Work?
A health trend being talked about in both general health and dental health arenas is a process called Oil Pulling or simply using coconut or sesame oil as a daily mouthwash to improve a persons’ overall health. Oil pulling has been practiced for thousands of years in some cultures as a folk remedy, but why has this age-old therapy resurfaced? Some say it may have something to do with the recent popularity of introducing non-hydrogenated coconut oil and other good saturated fats, back into our diet.
When done for 20 minutes daily, this process of swishing is said to alleviate conditions such as headaches, migraines, asthma, acne, digestion issues and more. Also, according to recent, but narrow test cases, “pulling” as it’s sometimes called can have a positive effect on people’s oral health with noticeable results in a few as six weeks of swishing these magical lipids.
Although most experienced health practitioners and skeptics would probably agree this holistic approach will not stop headaches or detoxify the blood, and is probably just another health fad, but it’s hard to ignore all the media and hype surrounding oil pulling and oral hygiene.
Are the results just a placebo or do we have visual proof? Let’s take a closer look.
Oral Health Benefits
According to Wikipedia, oil pulling benefits oral health because the oil creates a protective layer that prevents plaque or bacteria from adhering to the teeth.
Although this may help fight plaque briefly, I don’t see this explanation holding up under closer examination. Looking closer at the properties of the oil being used, here coconut may provide a better idea of why pullers are boasting about healthy teeth and gums. Oil pulling works especially well for patients with braces because it loosens stuck on food better than brushing.
Why Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is a superfood used to sustain many cultures in Asia and the Pacific Islands for centuries. There have been claims that adding coconut oil to your lipid regimen can help minor problems such as athletes’ foot, to larger claims such working as a cancer preventative.
When looking closer at what is in coconut oil it is easy to see why it would have some benefit to oral health. For example, coconut oil contains Lauric Acid, which is proven to be antimicrobial that can kill bacteria, such as Streptococcus Mutans, the bacteria in the mouth that leads to plaque buildup, tooth decay and bacteria gases associated with bad breath.
However, tests found the same, if not better, results can be found by using a Chlorhexidine mouthwash recommended and used by dentists. With coconut oil gaining popularity, both products are readily available at any drugstore.
Plaque and Gingivitis
Swishing with Chlorhexidine or coconut oil mouthwash will probably have similar results against fighting plaque and gingivitis, but one aspect of coconut or olive oil pulling seems to stand out–20 minutes per day. Swishing for 20 minutes seems to be the norm for pulling loyalists, which is much longer than most people would swish with regular mouthwash. This extended time and the viscosity of the oil should help remove more food particles than a quick 30-second shot of Listerine after brushing.
Some say that oil pulling works best for people prone to gingivitis and together with frequent teeth cleanings it can reduce or stop bleeding during flossing. This is especially exciting for women with pregnancy-induced gingivitis or people seeking a natural alternative due to tooth sensitivity or allergies.
How To Try Oil Pulling
If you would like to try yourself, it definitely can’t hurt, but in no way should replace recommended dental products approved by your dentist and the ADA.
Here’s how to do it:
- Put about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth.
- Swish the oil around your mouth for 20 minutes.
- Spit out the oil, and then brush your teeth.
If you use coconut oil, then you may have to let the oil soften for a few seconds because it maintains a solid form at room temperature. It is best to pull in the morning, on an empty stomach, to rid any bacteria before eating or drinking.
As a time saver, you can swish while in the shower; just remember oil will cause havoc on your plumbing, so spit into a trashcan or disposable cup. It’s also important to spit out the oil. You don’t want to swallow all the bacteria you just removed. Happy pulling!
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