I remember the first time I heard of oil pulling, my friend who was opening an organic health food cafe recommended it to me. Said that it would not only whiten my teeth, but it would also somehow pull toxins from my body.
The thing is, my friend has an amazing smile with bright white teeth and she tends to know her stuff when it comes to natural health remedies.
Let me back up and explain what oil pulling is for those who are unfamiliar…
Oil pulling involves energetically swishing oil in the mouth, back and forth over the teeth and gums. This method has been used for thousands of years in ancient cultures.
To be more specific, just take about 2 tablespoons of oil (preferably coconut oil) and swish it around for 15 minutes. Believe it or not, that will feel like a really long time, my mouth felt tired after about 5-10 minutes.
Just hang in there and do the whole 15 minutes to get the full benefit!
Bacteria In the Mouth
It turns out that there are thousands of good and bad bacteria in your mouth. Some of these bacteria create a biofilm on the teeth known as plaque.
Having a little plaque is okay, but when they take over the neighborhood is when you start to see gingivitis and chronic bad breath.
The way oil pulling works is simple. When you swish the oil around your mouth, the bacteria “get stuck” in it and dissolve in the liquid oil. Basically, you remove a large amount of the bacteria and plaque in your mouth each time you do this.
Reduces Gingivitis and Bad Breath
Gingivitis is caused by inflammation of the gums and happens when the immune system starts attacking the bacteria in the plaque.
Another study compared oil pulling and chlorhexidine in adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash were effective against gingivitis.
Bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis, is in many cases (but not all) caused by the smell of chemicals and gases produced by bacteria in the mouth. If you can get rid of some of these bacteria, you reduce bad breath.
In the third study of 20 adolescents, oil pulling therapy significantly reduced all markers for bad breath and was just as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash.
We Recommend Using Coconut Oil
Traditionally, the Indian folk remedy used other oils, such as sesame oil or sunflower oil. Oil pulling should work with pretty much any oil you choose, but I prefer coconut oil because it has many health benefits.
The Lauric Acid (one of the fatty acids in coconut oil) is also proven to be antimicrobial… it can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The taste of coconut oil is also fairly pleasant compared to other oils. I found it rather disgusting at first having my mouth full of oil, but I got used to it after a few days.
The research comes from the Athlone Institute of Technology, where Ireland-based scientists examined the effects of natural and digested coconut oil on common strains of bacteria within the mouth.
What they found was that not only did the coconut oil effectively inhibit a majority of the bacteria strains single-handedly, but it was also particularly harmful to Candida albicans.
How does coconut oil prevent cavities naturally?
It does so by crushing a yeast known as Candida albicans which enable dental diseases. This yeast is contributed to a diet consisting of processed foods and sugar. Candida infection can lead to digestive issues as well.
The scientists looked closer at the effects of natural and digested coconut oil on common strains of bacteria within the mouth, including S. mutans, a major culprit associated with tooth decay. In their report, the researchers state that enzyme-modified coconut oil could be ‘an effective alternative to chemical additives’ in most dental health care products.