Move over minty mouthwash. There’s another natural oral care solution that more and more people are giving a “swish”. The 3,000-year-old Ayurvedic practice we call “oil pulling” may not be a new idea, but it’s taking the holistic wellness and all-natural health care communities by storm. Though there’s been a lot of hype over the technique, and many claim to experience miraculous benefits (from clearer skin to getting better sleep) associated with a consistent oil pulling routine, the dental benefits are the most widely experienced results.
Wondering if oil pulling could improve your teeth? We’ll answer a few questions many beginners may have and explore the real facts behind this home remedy.
What is oil pulling?
The name alone may sound dubious, but oil pulling is simply the practice of swishing a tablespoon of unrefined, organic food-grade oil — like coconut or olive oil — in your mouth for 20 minutes to naturally remove bacteria and other microbes that cause cavities and gum disease. It’s important to use an unrefined oil because processed oil has been exposed to heat during the refining stages, leeching nutrients from the compound and potentially retaining toxins from the process.
What are the dental benefits of oil pulling?
Because the oil picks up germs in your mouth, oil pulling is an effective way to reduce plaque, and therefore, prevent gingivitis and cavities. By removing plaque buildup, teeth become whiter, and in some cases, oil pulling prevents bacteria and other acids from eroding tooth enamel, reducing tooth sensitivity over time. Treating chapped lips is an added bonus too, since oil is a natural moisturizer. Like diet and exercise though, the results of oil pulling usually can’t be seen overnight, so it’s important to keep on track with your routine.
How does oil pulling work?
The benefits of oil pulling may seem like magic, but they’re grounded in science. The oil is so effective in whisking bacteria from your teeth because the fatty compounds of oil attract the lipid membranes of bacteria like a magnet, sticking together and lifting them away. The longer you keep the oil in your mouth, the more bacteria and other microorganisms get picked up.
Any tips for beginners?
Getting used to the texture of the oil in your mouth and building your patience for this new cleaning method may take some time. Some beginners start with smaller scoops of oil, or start out by swishing for 10 minute intervals until they get used to the routine. Others have found that spitting out the oil and taking a new spoonful halfway through the 20 minutes helps make the oil feel “fresh”. No matter how long you choose to swish the oil in your mouth, do not swallow it when you’re finished. Always spit the oil in the trash instead of a sink — where it could build up in the pipes and cause plumbing issues over time.
Can I retire my toothbrush if I start oil pulling?
Even if you do it every day, oil pulling does not treat cavities and is not meant to replace traditional methods of oral care. Instead, use it as a supplemental treatment in addition to your daily routine of brushing and flossing.
Make appointments with your dentist on a regular basis too. Oil pulling, brushing, and flossing are good ways to take care of your teeth at home, but your overall oral health can be carefully monitored by dental professionals like our friendly staff at Greenspoint Dental. Only your dentist can treat cavities and perform other important preventative health services like oral cancer screenings. To schedule a checkup, teeth whitening appointment, or any other state of the art dental care, contact Greenspoint today!