Oil pulling is an ancient practice that is often associated with Ayurveda. It has been used since ancient times to treat a variety of dental ailments. But the goodness of this remedy is not limited to ancient literature. Oil pulling is a medical practice in which oil is swished inside the mouth before spitting it out. Proponents of oil pulling claim that it is capable of boosting oral and whole-body health.
Oil pulling may involve a mechanism similar to the soap-making process (also called saponification). The fat in the oils used in the process is emulsified into bicarbonate ions (which are found in the saliva). This supposedly increases the cleansing action of the oil.
However, this is just a theory. Another theory suggests that the viscous nature of the oil inhibits plaque accumulation and oral diseases. Though the mechanism of its application is not clear, certain benefits of oil pulling are backed by research. If you have chronic tooth ailments that modern medication couldn’t relieve, you may want to try oil pulling.
5 Benefits of Oil Pulling
Oil pulling benefits us by using the antimicrobial and antioxidant effects of oils to promote oral health. Regular oil pulling can prevent oral bacteria and help eradicate bad breath. The practice also treats other dental issues like gingivitis, cavities, and oral inflammation.
1. Reducing Inflammation and Improve Gum Health
Gum inflammation (also called gingivitis) is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. Oil pulling with coconut oil can treat plaque-related gingivitis. This effect of coconut oil is due to the presence of lauric acid (a medium-chain fatty acid) in the oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.
Oil pulling also reduces certain important factors related to gingivitis. These include plaque index, gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms. The oils work by coating the teeth and the gums. This way, they inhibit bacterial accumulation. Reports suggest that the use of oils makes the gums pink and healthier and stops their bleeding as well.
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2. Prevent Cavities
Oil pulling can treat cavities and dental caries. S. mutans and Lactobacilli are the two most common bacteria that cause cavities. The antibacterial action of the oils used in oil pulling can help treat cavities.
3. Reducing Bad Breath
Oil pulling eliminates oral bacteria, it seems likely that it can also reduce bad breath. In a study, oil pulling therapy achieved similar results in reducing bad breath as chlorhexidine mouthwash. Oil pulling not only reduces malodor but also fights the microbes causing it. In areas where the availability of modern mouthwashes is scarce, oil pulling could be a wonderful alternative. The act of pulling oil also generates antioxidants from the oil, which kill the microbes by damaging their cell walls.
4. Kill Harmful Bacteria in Your Mouth
Our oral cavities are among the strongest breeding grounds for bacteria. Over 700 types of bacteria reside in your mouth. This is serious news as the accumulation of bacteria can lead to tooth decay and other critical oral issues. But this is where oil pulling comes to the rescue. Studies show that the use of oil pulling can reduce the concentrations of Streptococcus mutans in the plaque and saliva. This eventually helps prevent oral problems associated with the bacteria.
The use of coconut oil in oil pulling achieved similar antibacterial effects as compared to an OTC mouthwash. Oil pulling activates the salivary enzymes that absorb bacterial toxins and remove them from the body through the tongue. It works by attracting the lipid layers of the bacterial cell membranes, causing them to get pulled towards the oil. Coconut oil works especially well in this aspect as it contains monolaurin. Monolaurin alters bacterial cell walls, causing their death.
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5. Treat Dry Mouth
Bad breath and tooth decay are a couple of the symptoms of dry mouth. Oil pulling may treat dry mouth by working on these symptoms.
How to Do Oil Pulling in Simple Steps
- Take one tablespoon of the oil you are using (coconut, olive, or sesame oil).
- Swish it around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Ensure you do not swallow any.
- Once done, spit the oil into a trash can.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water before you consume anything.
- You may also brush your teeth after this.
When to Do Oil Pulling?
Most recommend doing oil pulling on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. But you can adapt as per your preferences.
How often should you do oil pulling?
You can do oil pulling a few times a week or even three times daily. Work your way up. Start by swishing for 5 minutes and gradually increase the duration to 15 or 20 minutes.
Which oil is best for oil pulling?
There are a number of oils you can use. The following list should give you an idea
- Coconut oil: The lauric acid in the oil bags the credit. It contains 50% of the acid. This acid has proven antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Go for unrefined, virgin coconut oil.
- Sesame oil: Sesame oil contains sesamin, sesamolin, and sesaminol. These compounds impart detoxification, antioxidant, and antibiotic properties to the oil. Go for the unrefined and cold pressed version.
- Sunflower oil: It has antibacterial properties. It also contains the essential vitamins A, D, and E. Go for the unrefined and cold pressed version.
Dental problems are some of the most common issues troubling humanity today. Oil pulling can never be a replacement for contemporary medicine. But it can be a good habit you can imbibe daily. It can be a preventive measure. The procedure is simple. You need just 5 to 15 minutes a day. Pick the right oils and work your way up the duration. As time passes, you may experience the wonderful results.
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