What Is Oil Pulling and Does It Have Oral Health Benefits?
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil in your mouth to flush toxins out of the system. The remedy came from traditional Indian medicine, where it was used for over 5,000 years. It only entered the Western lexicon in the past few years. The method supposedly has many benefits — which we will be talking about today.
Before we go any further, we wanted to note that oil pulling is completely safe for people who have a tooth crown or even several of them. In fact, the motions required to rinse one’s mouth with oil shouldn’t dislodge any dental implants or restorations.
Now, you might find yourself wondering whether there’s anything to the practice of oil pulling. Does it work at all or is it just another home remedy fad that will soon be forgotten? Let’s find out!
The Holistic Benefits of Oil Pulling
As we have established, the practice of oil pulling is an ancient Indian remedy originating from Ayurvedic medicine. According to the original practitioners of the method, it’s supposed to pull toxins from the body, otherwise known as ama. As such, it is supposed to heal the body holistically without harming the healthy microflora. Still, that doesn’t really tell us what oil pulling is in scientific terms.
Unfortunately, Western science hasn’t really tried to prove this method wrong or right. Of course, that’s not to say that further research won’t shed more light on the subject. But for now, the systemic benefits we can talk about all come from less than reliable sources. All this to say that you should take what we’re about to say with a grain of salt.
In any case, according to the people who regularly practice oil pulling, the method can improve overall physical health and lead to better mental awareness as well. Flushing the body of bacteria in this way can reduce acne, eczema, and dermatitis. On top of that, oil pulling may be able to help with allergies, asthma, and bronchitis.
Some even claim that it can reduce fatigue and help with insomnia, as well as body aches. However, we won’t go quite that far. As far as we know, there is only one systematic benefit of oil pulling.
Namely, the action of swishing oils around the mouth is a good way to get essential fatty acids into the body sublingually. After all, the mucous underneath the tongue is basically an expressway for getting nutritional ingredients straight into the bloodstream.
What Is Oil Pulling for Teeth? Oral Health Benefits of the Practice
Many branches of science have been slow to confirm or deny the purported holistic benefits of oil pulling. However, dentists have been hard at work publishing studies confirming the usefulness of the practice.
According to general consensus, oil pulling is an effective tool for reducing oral bacteria. Specifically, coconut oil has been shown to reduce mouth bacteria. However, while sesame and sunflower oils don’t have antibacterial effects, the action of swishing allows them to lift plaque just as well.
As we know, having less bacteria in the mouth can improve bad breath and reduce plaque as well. Additionally, practitioners will experience fewer dental cavities and therefore have a reduced risk of bleeding gums and gum disease, periodontal disease, and tooth abscesses.
On top of all that, oil pulling with coconut oil may have teeth whitening effects as well. So while we can’t say that the practice has holistic benefits with any certainty — it can definitely improve our dental health.
Potential Detriments of Oil Pulling
Before we tell you how to do oil pulling, we wanted to take note of some potential detriments of the practice. Don’t worry — most of them are the results of improper swishing techniques more than anything else.
For example, when someone takes to swishing too aggressively, they might experience mouth irritation. However, the simple solution to that problem is to just do it less often.
Additionally, some people might report stomach irritation, which often happens when someone swallows the oil instead of spitting it out. The spent oil is full of bacteria, so you definitely shouldn’t be swallowing it.
Lastly, one of the biggest concerns people have with oil pulling is that it might pull mercury out of metal fillings. That’s something you should discuss with your dentist. But for what it’s worth, we don’t know many cases of that happening. Still, you can always do your own research on it.
As we have established, if oil pulling dislodges a dental crown or an implant, for that matter, you were probably already due for a dental appointment. Needless to say, if you follow the proper oil pulling technique, you shouldn’t experience any of these adverse effects.
How to Do Oil Pulling
Before you start swishing your oil, you’ll want to prepare your ingredients. Depending on the oil you want to use, you may even have them in your pantry! In any case, you’ll want to get the oil of your choice (we recommend coconut oil), a spoon, and a tissue.
Ideally, you should start pulling on an empty stomach, before having your breakfast. You can repeat this process up to three times per day, but that isn’t necessary. You can experience the benefits with less frequent sessions as well.
Swish for Up to Twenty Minutes
Unlike sunflower or sesame oils, coconut oil is usually a solid matter at room temperature. So if you opt to use that, you’ll have to wait for it to melt in your mouth or maybe even chew it a bit before you can swish it. However, a spoonful of solid coconut oil in your mouth can be overwhelming for a beginner. So we recommend starting with a teaspoon of it to avoid gagging or feeling sore from swishing a huge amount of oil.
Once you start swishing, you’ll want to take your time making sure the oil passes between the teeth. And don’t gargle — it can trigger your gag reflex!
It’s best to have a small task to focus on for the duration of the process. You should be swishing for between five and twenty minutes. If you get tired, take a little break and continue until the time runs out.
Oil Pulling Aftercare
When you want to stop swishing, you’ll want to spit the oil out. That’s what the tissue is for! Rather than spitting the liquid coconut oil into the sink and having it solidify and clog your pipes, you’ll want to deposit it into a tissue and toss it in the bin.
After spitting it all out, you should continue your dental hygiene routine as you would regularly. So you can brush and floss your teeth or even incorporate a saltwater rinse to rid yourself of the oily residue.
Put Oil Pulling to the Test
Even if oil pulling can’t magically cure all that ails you, there’s ample evidence that it can alleviate certain dental conditions. Moreover, it’s an effective and accessible dupe for store-bought mouthwash. Still, if you’re not convinced, you can try it while still practicing all the oral health habits you’re used to!