What is Oil Pulling? Oil pulling is an age old practise for oral hygiene, which involves swishing oil for removing bacteria. However, before you start on it, check out how to do oil pulling along with the side effects and benefits oil pulling.
Oil pulling is an ancient folk practise from India. It is an ancient technique that is said to have originated about 3000 years ago in India as a form of Ayurvedic medicine. Today, it has become popular in many other regions of the world, due to the purported benefits for hygiene.
What is Oil Pulling for Teeth
According to the American Dental Association, oil pulling involves swishing one tablespoon of an edible oil, such as coconut, olive or sesame oil, etc. in the mouth for about 1 to 5 minutes or up to 20 minutes even.
The Gandusha or Kavala Graha are the conventional oil pulling practises and they state that the bacteria and other toxins keep building up in the mouth. By swishing oil in the mouth for some time, it draws out these bacteria and toxins. After completing the swishing, you spit the oil out. The whole purpose is to get the oil soluble toxins out of the mouth and the body.
How to do Oil Pulling
So, how to do oil pulling? What oil to use for oil pulling? Some of the oils that are used in oil pulling are coconut oil; sesame oil; olive oil; and sunflower oil.
Oil pulling with coconut oil is the most popular one and also the best oil for oil pulling. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is an antibacterial agent that can combat harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses. However, coconut oil solidifies below 75 degrees fahrenheit. A hard chunk is rather difficult to swish about in the mouth. You can blend sesame oil with sunflower in a 50/50 proportion to get a balanced oil for a thorough detox.
- Place one tablespoon of the oil in your mouth.
- How long should you oil pull? If you have difficulty in keeping the oil in your mouth for 15 minutes, start with a shorter period.
- As you keep swishing, keep breathing through the nose. Swish and swirl the oil into every corner of the teeth and gums.
- At the end of the procedure, the viscous oil turns milky white and thin.
Warning: Never swallow the oil. Spit it out after you are done.
- After oil swishing, wash the mouth with clean, warm saline water.
- You can brush your teeth after ten minutes. Use a separate toothbrush after doing oil pulling and not your regular one.
Tip: Note: Check out this video on how to do oil pulling the right way!
Benefits of Coconut Oil Pulling
Kill Harmful Bacteria
- There are mainly around 700 kinds of bacteria that can live in the mouth, with 350 of them being seen at any given point of time. Some of them are harmful and could cause gum disease, tooth decay and also, of course, bad breath.
- Decreasing the harmful bacteria in the mouth could be a good support for oral hygiene and lead to the prevention of other health conditions.
- One of the oil pulling benefits is that it is a great way for killing harmful bacteria, while preserving the good ones.
- It attracts the harmful bacteria and toxins in the mouth and pulls it.
- It also helps to hydrate the mouth and increases saliva production, which stops new bacteria from being created due to a dry mouth.
- Oil rinsing forms a thin barrier preventing harmful bacteria from sticking on to your teeth.
Can you do oil pulling at night? Oil pulling should be ideally done on an empty stomach and before you brush your teeth. You should do oil pulling every day and preferably every morning as soon as you get up.
Eliminate Bad Breath
Bad breath, known as halitosis, is caused due to chemicals and gases arising due to bacteria in the mouth.
- Oil pulling gets rid of the bacteria and, therefore, solves the problem of bad breath.
- It can be as effective as a regular chlorhexidine mouthwash. This is one of the top health benefits of oil pulling.
Tip: Use coconut oil floss to freshen and whiten teeth and soothe gums!
For Plaque and Gingivitis
Plaque and Gingival inflammation are teeth problems, which pose a great risk as they can lead to other general health problems. They can be controlled by oil pulling.
- Conventional tooth cleaning methods, like brushing may not effectively remove bacterial plaque.
- Plaque is a sticky film building on the surface of the teeth and along its gum line. It can turn into a yellowish brown tartar if left untreated. It can also lead to gingivitis or gum disease, if left untreated.
- Studies have found that there was reduced dental plaque and symptoms of gingivitis among people who practised oil pulling. This should be enough proof oil pulling works!
Cavities are small holes caused in the teeth due to decay. You can prevent or stop this from happening.
- Plaque starts building up in cracks, grooves and between the teeth. When it reaches the inner layer of the teeth, the dentin, it leads to cavities.
- You can do oil pulling to prevent this from happening, at the pre cavity stage. This is the stage when the decay has resulted in holes on the tooth enamel, but not reached the dentin as yet.
- Oil pulling reduces the plaque and could help remineralize the enamel to prevent formation of cavities.
Warning: Once a cavity starts forming, you must take professional dental treatment.
Improve Gum Health
Gingivitis is a gum problem, where the gums become red and swollen and start bleeding. The inflammation can be reduced by oil pulling.
- The harmful bacteria and plaque on the teeth are the main culprits contributing to Streptococcus mutans and other gum diseases.
- Coconut oil and sesame oil have anti inflammatory properties that reduces the inflammation caused due to gum diseases.
Cleaning Stains / Whitening
This is the best benefit of them all!
- It is the ultimate treat that you can give your teeth.
- It has a fluid nature and can reach all the small gaps, crevices and skin folds in the mouth.
- In this way, it cleans up plaque and with prolonged use, it can have a whitening effect on your teeth.
- Oil pulling also helps to lighten the food stains on the teeth, arising from green and black tea, coffee, red wine etc.
Dangers of Oil Pulling
Is oil pulling safe? Though it has been practised in India and some other Asian countries for centuries, there are some oil pulling side effects that you should be careful about.
- The side effects are mostly due to the technique used, rather than the practise itself.
- OIl pulling could result in conditions like loss of taste or sensation; stiffness of muscles; dry and thirsty mouth; exhaustion among others.
- One of the greatest fallouts or dangers of oil pulling is that it could replace some time tested treatments for dental health. For instance, there are some who believe that oil pulling could replace brushing your teeth daily. This will surely lead to the risk of cavities.
Teeth must be brushed mechanically in order to protect it from plaque. Oil pulling is not a replacement for brushing, flossing and other oral hygiene procedures.
- Another issue could be due to harmful additives used in oils used for oil pulling. Some herbal oils also contain high levels of lead, arsenic or mercury.
- Another danger is that of the oil getting into the lungs. This could lead to lipoid pneumonia. In this case, it can also cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Remember: Tooth decay is not a reversible condition. You cannot expect oil pulling to act as an alternative method to dental restorations.
Wrap Up – Oil Pulling: Benefits and Dangers
We get only one set of permanent teeth in a lifetime, so it makes sense to take proper care of them. Oil pulling seems to be a safe, economic and effective remedy for maintaining oral hygiene. However, it cannot replace regular dental checkups. While not all claims of enthusiasts of this practise are true, oil pulling does have some benefits as can be seen from above.
So does oil pulling work? Well, yes and no. Research has noted that there are some benefits of the procedure. The American Dental Association also recommends that oil pulling can be used to supplement your regular dental health practises. Continue your regular brushing, flossing and mouthwash routine and add oil pulling to it!
Make sure that you consult your dentist if you have any concerns with your oral hygiene. It is a simple, safe and affordable technique for oral hygiene, but make sure to add it to your traditional or existing routine and not replace it.