Oil pulling is an ancient practice that allowed to clean, maintain and disinfect the mouth, as according to archeological findings, performed by some of the oldest civilisations. As according to our findings nowadays, most of these individuals preserved their teeth intact until their later years, and in a healthy whole state.
There was evidence of dental routines already dating back to 3000 B.C. in Egypt, for instance, where people chewed sticks that would clean the teeth. More closely to us, and a little more recently, we also have evidence of the norse raiders using bone toothpicks to clean their teeth as part of a grooming routine. Also, depending on the area, there were different practices performed as oil pulling with different sorts of oils – mostly coconut, olive or sesame oil.
Studies have proven that oil pulling is more effective than flossing, also being one of the best natural ways to whiten the teeth without any secondary side effects. Nowadays is mainly used in Ayurveda and known as ”gandusha”, when referred to precisely coconut oil pulling, is basically the swishing of 1 tablespoon of coconut oil back and forth around your teeth for about 15-20 minutes.
Coconut oil pulling works in the same way soap would work for your hands, while being swished around your teeth and molars, cleaning the mouth cavity. Coconut oil also has antiseptic properties, being able to clean and retain the toxins found around and between your teeth, tongue and gums.
This procedure has previously been used for: treating tooth decay, treat halitosis (bad breath that originates in the gut), bleeding gums, reducing inflammation present in the mouth, whiten teeth, cavity prevention, act as a lip balm and strengthening of gums and jaw overall (as it is supposed to be a 20 minutes exercise).
Ability to treat diseases
Important studies have been able to show how oil pulling counts as a powerful holistic approach to oral health and as an effective cavity and tooth loss solution. They also talk about the benefits of using oil pulling in cases where other oral care practices cannot be used – brushing, fevers, mouth ulcers, indigestion, gagging or vomiting, asthma, cough or extreme thirst.
Reduces Streptococcus mutans bacteria
Studies found that oil pulling was able to reduce the steptoccocus mutans bacteria in saliva and plaque of children – which also reduced the frequency of aerobic microorganisms in plaque-induced gingivitis (find study here)
Reduces bad breath
It was shown that oil pulling was as effective as mouthwash and improved bad breath (halitosis) and reduced the microorganisms that produced it.
Oil pulling equally effective as mouthwash
After a comparison analysis, it was indeed found that oil pulling was as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash in treating halitosis, plaque formation and disinfection.
Coconut oil is preferred as it shows more benefits than sesame because…
- Coconut oil pulling was found to fight the bacteria that promotes cavities, plaque and halitosis (bad breath) and gum issues (gingivitis) as was also observed in this study – as effective as chlorhexidine as according to this study among others
- Balances hormones and is not a vegetable oil
- Does not affect digestion
- Moisturises lips and mouth
- Balances blood sugar, if ingested
- Improves degenerative diseases, if ingested
- Increases HDL cholesterol, lowering LDL
- Among others…
All these benefits will come in as long as you use unrefined coconut oil – making sure there’s no unwanted substances that will absorb in your body!
Now onto the interesting part…
How to do oil pulling?
- Start the oil pulling routine as first thing in the morning, before eating or ingesting anything. Also before you brush your teeth.
- Take 1-2 tablespoons of unrefined coconut oil in your mouth and swish it gently around your teeth and molars from the front of your teeth to the back of your mouth. You are not supposed to swallow the oil as it contains the toxins that you want to spit out – you can also take the swishing as a jaw exercise since you will need to do this for 10-20 minutes.
- Spit the oil out in the trash (as it can clog the drain and also ends up in the water system and that will take a lot to clean).
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Brush your teeth now as you’d normally do.
You can do oil pulling while in the shower if you think it’s otherwise too long – you can also add essential oils to it if you find it more pleasant, such as wild orange, peppermint, lemon. Or if you are sick with the flu or just having an inflammation/infection in your mouth you can try adding clove oil, cinnamon oil or tea tree oil*.
*Tea Tree Oil has been found to be a hormonal disruptor and anti-androgenic (disrupts Testosterone production), so if you are a man perhaps is better to not use it! The tea tree oil usage was proved to be directly linked with gynecomastia. Find more about the study right here.
We conclude that repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils probably caused prepubertal gynecomastia in these boys.Henley D, Lipson N, Korach K, Bloch C. Prepubertal Gynecomastia Linked to Lavender and Tea Tree Oils. New England Journal of Medicine, Feb. 1, 2007
Some questions you might have…
- When is it safe to start oil pulling?
If your child already knows and understands to not swallow and to spit, then perfect. He/she is ready!
- Any side effects should I be worried for?
You might notice the production of more mucus just because oil pulling releases the sinus and can then cause drainage, so you might want to blow your nose after – which is not necessarily something bad, just something you should know about!
Also, you might experience gagging if you are sensitive to strong flavours, oils in your mouth or at the beginning when you’ve never done this before. You can also feel a little sore on your jaw as it’s quite of an exercise to swish for 15 minutes!
- Does it work for pregnant women also?
Yes! And it’s actually a very recommended routine to add to your oral care as during pregnancy, gums can easily become infected and inflamed. Do always spit up all the oil.
- When will I notice a difference?
People say they start feeling better about their oral health within 1-2 weeks of starting to oil pull! Try it for yourself, be consistent and let me know how it worked for you!