What is Oil Pulling?

If you’ve perused the internet at all lately, you’ve most likely heard of oil pulling. It’s a trend that has really taken off recently that has actually been around for a long time, dating back to the Indian Ayurvedic medicine tradition that’s 3,000 years old. Many practitioners swear by this practice, claiming that it has done amazing things for their teeth and gums. Here’s a deeper look at what it is.

What Does Oil Pulling Do?

olive oilThe practice of oil pulling is pretty simple. Basically, you take a teaspoon of oil, typically coconut, sesame or sunflower oil, and swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes and then spit it out. The theory, which does have some scientific basis, is that the microorganisms present in the mouth that cause decay and inflammation become stuck to the oil and are removed when you spit the oil out; you are thus pulling out the bacteria with the oil.

Unlike other “folk remedies,” recent studies have shown that oil pulling does help against gingivitis, plaque and the organisms that cause halitosis. It works because the majority of microorganisms in the mouth are single-celled. The outer layer of these single-celled organisms are covered with a fatty membrane. When that membrane comes in contact with the oil, which is also a fat, they naturally adhere to each other.

How Do I Do It?

When giving this a try, you may want to start with only five minutes per session instead of 20 minutes, which can tire out your jaw. Coconut oil is the best, since it also has lauric acid, an anti-microbial agent. Also, a gentle swishing is all that’s necessary. You don’t need to be as rigorous as you would be with regular mouthwash. It’s very important that you don’t swallow the oil, and when you spit it out, use a trash can instead of the sink. The oil could harden and clog your pipes.

While oil pulling can be a good supplement to your oral care routine, it should not be used as a replacement for regular brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also crucial to maintaining great oral health. If it’s time for a checkup, give us a call today.