Did you know that oil pulling is being practiced for centuries?
It is an ancient traditional folk remedy for whitening and keeping teeth clean having its roots in South Asia.
Its main purpose is to entrap bacteria and remove them from your mouth.
This has many benefits for your dental health. One of which is preventing cavities.
This article discusses the numerous benefits of this ancient technique.
Keep reading below to find out its use, risks and benefits and know if it is worthy to include it in your routine.
How To Do Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient technique that involves swishing coconut, sesame or sunflower or olive oil inside your mouth for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Why these oils?
Well, their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce bacteria inside your mouth and promote saliva production.
Furthermore, coconut oil even tastes and smells nice so it is not hard to swish it in your mouth.
Extra virgin coconut oil also contains lauric acid, antibacterial properties and fatty acids.
The fats in the oil come in contact with the bacteria cells’ skin.
The microorganisms contain a single cell and its skin contains a lipid membrane and naturally, the two fats adhere to each other pulling away bacteria.
So grab a tablespoon. Take one full tablespoon of oil, any of these will do, and put it in your mouth.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature hence, you will have to melt it first.
Swish it around just like you would with a mouthwash. Start from 5 minutes and gradually make your way up to 20 minutes.
Keep breathing through your nose when you are swishing oil in your mouth.
Oil is pulled between all of your mouth and teeth as you swish it around. It takes away the bacteria with it.
When you notice it getting thin and milky, it is time to spit it.
If you do oil pulling with coconut oil remember to spit it in the bin rather than the sink as it clogs your drain.
Give some time before you brush for your mouth to rebalance the good bacteria and oral microbiome.
You can brush afterward with a brush different than what you use in your daily brushing teeth routine.
You can do this first thing in the morning daily on an empty stomach. However, it does not replace brushing and dental flossing.
Oil Pulling Benefits List
- Gets rid of bacteria in the mouth
- Combats bad breath
- Decreases Plaque and Gingivitis
- May whiten teeth
- Prevents cavities and decay
- Cheap alternative to mouthwash
Your mouth contains good bacteria and harmful bacteria.
About 350 of these exist inside your mouth at a time.
One bacteria responsible for building up plaque and causing tooth cavity is Streptococcus mutans.
This and other bacteria are responsible for causing bad breath, tooth decay and gingivitis.
A study showed that oil pulling with coconut oil was equally effective in reducing this bacteria as chlorhexidine mouthwash.
It is an antiseptic mouthwash that gets rid of bacteria.
Moreover, another study concluded how daily 10 minutes use can decrease the number of S.mutans in the saliva in just two weeks.
Hence, oil pulling helps to reduce the number of bacteria inside the mouth.
With a reduction in bacteria, it helps to decrease other issues such as plaque accumulation, bad breath and inflammation of gums.
More on that below!
Combats Bad Breath
Bad breath is medically known as halitosis.
The bacteria inside your mouth coat a film on your tongue.
The bad smell originates from chemicals and gases that harmful bacteria produce.
Furthermore, infection, poor oral hygiene practices and gum disease and a dry mouth also result in your breath smelling bad.
Therefore, if the bacteria inside your mouth reduce because of this technique, so can your bad breath.
You can get rid of it by regularly rinsing with a mouth wash, chewing gum and maintaining oral hygiene by brushing plus flossing regularly.
A study shows that oil pulling with sesame oil was as effective as a chlorhexidine mouthwash in reducing bad breath.
It wiped any signs of an unpleasant smell coming from your mouth.
However, there is still less supporting the claim that this method can reduce bad breath.
Still, as it is also effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis, it can likely work for bad breath too.
Decreases Plaque and Gingivitis
Plaque contains bacteria that accumulate on the surface of the teeth.
Your immune system may start fighting the bacteria in the plaque.
Therefore your gums swell, become red and bleed.
This inflammation of the gums is known as gingivitis.
In a comparison study of sesame oil and chlorhexidine mouthwash, both were found equally effective against reducing bacteria in the plaque.
Using coconut oil with anti-inflammatory properties shows a similar result.
Plaque decreases, inflammation reduces and gum health improves.
Hence this ancient technique helps to promote gum health even if you do not have gingivitis.
A normal brushing routine can help remove plaque but not completely eliminate it.
However, if you do not brush properly then it will harden and become tartar.
This can cause cavities and tooth decay.
Furthermore, an unhealthy sugary diet, not maintaining oral hygiene and the rising buildup of bacteria can all form holes inside your teeth.
How does that happen?
Plaque coats the teeth and as it contains food particles, saliva and bacteria, the bacteria start breaking down food particles.
This process releases acids that weaken the tooth enamel and forms holes in your tooth.
Therefore if you oil pull, then it reduces the number of bacteria in your saliva, hence also that in plaque.
Therefore if you add it to your regular routine then you prevent the formation of cavities and decay on your teeth by reducing bacteria.
You can maintain optimal oral health by using these three regularly.
The reduction of plaque and bacteria consequently reduces the chances of bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease, cavities and decay.
Whereas promoting gum health and keeping the harmful bacteria at bay.
There is less evidence of this technique working for teeth whitening.
However, it is an ancient remedy that reduces plaque and bacteria.
Moreover, teeth stain because of an accumulation of plaque and tartar.
This can either be because of eating colored foods, acidic drinks, smoking or intrinsic discoloration because of age and injury.
Hence, it is important to regularly clean your teeth to prevent the accumulation of plaque and bacteria.
As oil pulling is as effective as a mouthwash in reducing bacteria, it can also prevent your teeth from staining.
It may not exactly whiten them, however, it will prevent them from becoming yellow.
Therefore, you can maintain the natural color of your teeth.
Though, as there is little evidence to support it, it is just considered a myth.
Another myth states that this technique can help pull toxins away from your blood. Hence, acting as a detox.
While traditional medical practitioners believe that Dry cupping and other cupping therapy remove toxins, there is less evidence on oil pulling detoxing the body.
Hence, there is no evidence confirming it.
You may also be curious about the risks and side effects of using this technique.
After all, it is just a remedy. Don’t worry we have it covered for you.
Oil Pulling Side Effects and Concerns
You will be amazed to find out that oil pulling is a generally safe technique.
There are no big concerns or side effects of this technique.
Yes, you should be wary of allergies in case you are allergic to the main ingredient i.e. coconut oil, or sesame seeds.
Moreover, you may experience slight jaw pain along with a headache if you vigorously swish the oil inside your mouth.
Therefore, begin by just 5 minutes and only gradually keep increasing time to do it till 20 minutes.
Once your teeth and jaw adapt to it you can extend time.
The longer you pull, the more bacteria you will trap. Though, you can still get enough in 5 minutes.
Also, be mindful of not swallowing it.
This oil consists of tons of bacteria that you entrap by swishing, pulling and sucking.
Hence, you should only spit the oil.
If you mistakenly swallow it, then you can get an upset stomach or diarrhea.
That said, this technique does not have any concerning risks or side effects.
It is generally safe to use.
Moreover, it is also cheap and convenient.
You can start practicing it today by picking an oil from your kitchen.
You can use any of these oils for this technique:
- sunflower oil
All of these have antibacterial properties and some also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Hence, they can fight bacteria and adhere to the oil pulling it away from your teeth.
It can keep improving oral health, reduce gum inflammation and decrease the chances of cavities.
Hence, by all means, it is a good addition to your oral care routine.
However, it is essential to note that it is an addition and not a substitute or replacement.
You can use it along with brushing and flossing, first thing in the morning.
You should not only rely on oil pulling to remove bacteria and plaque from your teeth.
Though, complementing it with brushing, flossing and occasionally a mouth wash can improve your oral hygiene.
Also, oil pulling is not the most ideal for whitening teeth even if it cleans them.
Hence, use it only if you wish to reduce the bacteria inside your mouth and retain the natural color of your teeth.