What is oil-pulling?
You may have heard the buzz around oil-pulling or “oil-swishing”, a very old natural technique in Ayurvedic medicine that has various health and dental benefits. It does not replace the normal dental routine of brushing and flossing, but enhances your regimen greatly as a supplement. It also does not reverse the oral damage that has already been done.
What are the benefits?
As far as dental hygiene, oil-pulling is a natural home remedy that aids in oral health and in releasing toxins from the body. Some additional claims of oil-pulling, in addition to its benefits in purifying the body by releasing toxins and reducing inflammation, are its uses in conditions such as acne, headaches, migraines, diabetes mellitus, and asthma. Orally, it has been shown to fight plague, gingivitis and harmful microorganisms that attribute to bad breath…and it whitens teeth! The science behind this method is that the single-celled microorganisms are layered in a lipid or fatty membrane, which then naturally adhere to other oils (i.e., coconut, sesame, sunflower).
What does oil-pulling entail?
The technique is actually easy peasy. Use pure coconut, sesame or sunflower oil, about 1 tablespoon of either, and swish gently around in your mouth and between your teeth for about 20 minutes before spitting it out. You need not be vigorous with it! Coconut oil has an added bonus of lauric acid, which is known for its anti-microbial agents. Coconut oil is also effective in helping to prevent tooth decay.
Note: The key is that the longer you pull, the more bacteria you will remove, however, 20 minutes is a long time when first starting out. So, feel free to start out with just 5 minutes and work your way up to the full 20-minutes. Do not swallow, and also, do not spit the oil down the sink or it will clog your pipes once it solidifies. Instead, aim for a trash can. You’ve been warned! Once you’ve discarded the used oil, rinse the mouth with warm salt water and brush/floss as normal. I repeat, oil-pulling is not a substitute for regular dental care.
How often should oil-pulling be done?
If you have the time, everyday would be great. You can do it while showering or while getting ready in the mornings. Otherwise, aim for at least 3-4 times per week.
I gave it a try and made it through the 20-minutes of swishing. It was pretty hard to do, but found that keeping myself busy helped the time to pass by quickly. Time will tell if the claims are in fact true. As with everything health-related, it is important to check with a dentist about any concerns or before using, especially if other dental conditions are present.
Have you tried this method? What were the results?