Oral hygiene basically involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at night. It also includes regular visits and checkups with your dentist. Most people also use Waterpik, mouthwashes and other OTC supplements, but you may want to try using coconut oil with oil pulling. The oil pulling with coconut oil benefits may surprise you.
What Is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an oral detoxification method. It involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth instead of an over-the-counter mouthwash. You do this for 10 to 20 minutes each day.
The oil you swish in your mouth gets into and cleanses the cavities in your teeth.
It works similarly to how dish detergents clean dirty dishes. It removes the toxins in your mouth, leaving behind a cleaner antiseptic environment. This oral environment encourages the prevention of cavities and gum disease and according to a Puyallup dentist it works similarly to how dish detergent cleans dirty dishes.
History of Oil Pulling
The use of modern toothbrushes and flossing is actually rather new. After all, toothbrushes weren’t commonly used in the US until the 1930s. Yet archeological evidence has shown that many people on older days had surprisingly healthy teeth, considering the lack of toothbrushes and oral health education during those times.
It helped that back then the food items didn’t usually contain sugars that nowadays lead to damage to tooth enamel. Some peoples chew on sticks that rub on their teeth.
Then there’s also oil pulling, which originated hundreds of years ago in India. It’s part of the traditional Ayurvedic medicine. The people in India have traditionally used this to prevent cavities, treat tooth decay, turn bad breath fresher, and whiten teeth. Amazingly, these people also believed that other oil pulling benefits included preventing heart disease, boosting the immune system, and even helping with acne.
Sesame oil was used most of the time because in ancient India this was readily available. However, more modern research indicates that using coconut oil may provide better results. It contains lauric acid that helps in dealing with the bacteria and plaque. The lauric acid has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Coconut Oil Pulling: Steps to Take
If you wish to try oil pulling, here are the steps you need to take:
First buy the oil you’re using. While you can use olive oil or sesame oil, coconut oil is probably the best option.
Start this procedure early in the morning, before you drink or eat anything.
Measure about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the oil, and then swish that amount of oil in your mouth. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes, though you may want to keep to at least 15 minutes.
Just make sure that you don’t swallow any of the oil.
Once the 15 to 20 minutes are over, spit the oil into a trash bin. It’s better if you don’t spit it into the sink or toilet. This can lead to an oil buildup that can cause clogging.
Rinse your mouth afterwards. You may want to try rinsing your mouth with a salt water solution instead of just ordinary water.
You can then brush your teeth as you would normally do in the morning.
Do this 3 to 5 times a week.
While the basic steps are adequate, you may want to customize the ingredients to better suit your needs and preferences.
- For regular use, you can add 3 drops of peppermint, lemon and wild orange for every tablespoon of coconut oil you swish in your mouth.
- You can also mix in the following oils:
- tea tree oil
- cinnamon oil
- clove oil
For additional benefits.
Understandably, many people are not entirely convinced of the validity of various traditional health and medicine practices. However, it is also true that numerous traditional medicines work, and properly conducted scientific studies have confirmed this fact.
This applies to oil pulling and the use of coconut oil for the oral care method. A search of the US NCBI database of scientific studies reveals various studies and papers on the benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil.
Here are some of the findings:
- A study by researchers from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in Chennai India on oil pulling found that the practice resulted in considerable reduction in the microorganisms in plaque. This study was conducted with children who had gingivitis caused by plaque. Logically, the results also indicate that with the researchers in Chennai also found oil pulling is just as effective as using mouthwash to improve bad breath. The study concluded that it reduces the bacteria that cause halitosis.
- Another study by the Department of Pediatric Dentistry in Tamil Nadu, India found that the practice of oil pulling reduced levels of the streptococcus mutans bacteria in the saliva and plaque of children. This is the type of bacteria that is one of the main causes of tooth decay. The study concluded that it’s an effective supplementary method to maintain and improve oral health.
- A study published in the Nigerian Medical Journal revealed that oil pulling with coconut oil reduced plaque in patients with gingivitis. Part of the reason why coconut oil is so effective here is because it contains significant amounts of lauric acid.
It must be stated that these studies are not numerous enough to offer definitive conclusions. These are initial indications, though with promising results and have not been peer reviewed or published in academic journals.
Summary of Benefits of Oil Pulling
With the increasing number of scientific studies done, the coconut oil pulling benefits include the following:
Reduction of Harmful Bacteria in the Mouth
More specifically, oil pulling reduces the levels of streptococcus mutans in the mouth.
This is one of the more notable types of bacteria in the mouth, as it’s a significant cause of plaque buildup and tooth decay.
In one study that involved 60 adults, one group performed oil pulling daily for 10 minutes with coconut oil, while the control group did so with distilled water. The results showed that the coconut oil group had the level of S. mutans bacteria reduced in just 2 weeks, compared to the results in the distilled water group.
Another study found out that oil pulling with coconut oil is just as effective in reducing S. mutans levels as a typical chlorhexidine mouthwash. This suggests that you can use coconut oil as a mouthwash, which is a better option if your coconut oil is more affordable.
Prevention of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums, which occurs when the body’s immune system fights back against the plaque and the bacteria it contains. Gingivitis can also weaken the gums so that you’re more likely to have bleeding gums especially when you brush your teeth.
However, various studies show that oil pulling is as effective against gingivitis as standard mouthwashes. This was also indicated by a small study involving 20 adolescent male subjects with gingivitis caused by plaque. Another study involving 60 subjects also showed that oil pulling with coconut oil every day reduced the markers of gingivitis to a significant degree.
Improving Bad Breath
Bad breath or halitosis can have several possible causes. However, in most cases the foul odor is the result of the chemicals and gases that the oral bacteria produce when they feast on food debris and sugars in your mouth. These chemicals and gases can also lead to gingivitis (gum disease) and infections, as well as poor overall oral hygiene.
Prevention of Tooth Decay
While there aren’t many coconut oil tooth decay study cases yet, it’s fair to surmise that using coconut oil for oil pulling can help with tooth decay.
Reducing the bacteria in the plaque means that there are fewer bacteria that can attack the teeth enamel and cause cavities. By using coconut oil tooth decay can be minimized and this lowers the need for filling and tooth extraction. Oil pulling for tooth decay prevention works, as a supplementary practice in addition to regular toothbrushing and flossing.
Teeth can darken in color due to stains and plaque. The coconut oil removes the stains and lessens the plaque, which helps your teeth to maintain its proper white color. While this effect has not yet been proved by enough scientific studies, numerous testimonials with oil pulling before and after pictures have indicated that oil pulling whitens teeth.
Of course, you still have the option of using mouthwash to whiten your teeth instead. Or better yet, you can use a mouthwash after you’ve done oil pulling with coconut oil.
Why Coconut Oil?
Oil pulling can be done by swishing with coconut, sesame, or olive oil. But studies indicate that coconut oil is your best choice. This is because coconut oil is easily absorbed. Thus, when pulling coconut oil is the best choice as you absorb enough of the oil through your gums and mouth to enjoy the benefits.
These benefits are considerable, and many of them have been supported by scientific studies. Other benefits have been cited through anecdotal reports and customer reviews, and have also been part of the traditional Indian folk medicine.
These benefits include:
Burning fat cells and reducing cellulite
Helping with age spots and wrinkles
Balancing the hormones
Moisturizing the skin
Boosting the good (HDL) cholesterol and lowering the bad (LDL) cholesterol
Boosting energy and balancing blood sugar levels
Fighting off Alzheimer’s
It’s best if you pick unrefined coconut oil, because this ensures that there are no additives that may have harmful side effects.
However, it must be stated that many of these supposed benefits are only part of folk medicine tradition.
Some of them have not yet been supported by scientific studies, although recent oil pulling testimonials indicate that there may be some truth to these beliefs.
Is oil pulling safe and effective if I have fillings in my teeth?
Yes, it’s safe and effective. Oil pulling can eliminate bacteria from your mouth, along with pus and mucus. The practice doesn’t pull out the materials used for your fillings, such as the composite, amalgam or porcelain.
While there have been reports that fillings have become looser when oil pulling, this is only because there already is rot and infection in the tooth. The infection must be addressed in a dental office immediately so that it doesn’t spread.
Why does it have to be done in the early morning?
Technically, you can do it at any time of the day as long as it’s right before your next meal. Oil pulling is best done on an empty stomach, which is why it’s best done in the morning before you have your breakfast.
Is it necessary to do it for 15 minutes?
You need enough time to use up the oil when you swish it in your mouth during oil pulling. Your mouth and gums absorb the coconut oil, so after about 15 minutes the oil turns watery in your mouth. Sometimes it even turns milky and you may notice that its texture has changed.
How many days do I need to pull oil to notice any improvement in my mouth and teeth?
This depends on each person, as not everyone reacts the same way to oil pulling. But in general, most people around you will notice that your breath is fresher and that your mouth seems cleaner in just a single week. In a month, your gums will be healthier as well.
Is it okay to do this while showering or right before brushing your teeth in the morning?
That depends. The main problem with doing this in the bathroom is that there’s a tendency to spit the oil into the toilet, bathroom sink, or shower drain. The oil isn’t good for your plumbing, as it can cause clogging.
So instead, you need to do this near your trash bin. You can do this in your bathroom, but you need to have your trash bin conveniently near you.
Can oil pulling reverse tooth decay?
Can coconut oil reverse tooth decay? Not really. What oil pulling can do is to prevent or at least minimize tooth decay. This is due to how oil pulling reduces harmful bacteria. With oil pulling teeth are protected, but it’s not really properly treated.
With tooth decay the best solution is to consult a dentist, who can then propose the proper treatment for the tooth decay. Usually this means putting in some fillings in the dental cavities.
Oil pulling is safe and effective in enhancing your oral health, and numerous reports and studies confirm this. There aren’t any side effects to worry about, while there are numerous benefits to enjoy. You should try this for yourself, and it should become part of your oral hygiene routine as brushing and flossing your teeth.