Brushing your teeth in the mornings and evenings, rinsing with mouthwash, the occasional baking soda teeth cleansing, you’re doing all of them yet you still have some plaque on your pearly whites? Don’t give up on any of these habits but try adding a new one to your oral care regimen: oil pulling.
What is oil pulling?
The concept is really simple: you basically have to swish oil in your mouth. It’s similar to using mouthwash, except in this case you’d have to swish for 15-20 minutes. It may sound like a really long time for an oral care routine, but it’s not that hard to accomplish if you’re doing other things while you’re oil pulling.
There aren’t many scientific studies on oil pulling, but most of them support this practice and showed it can offer benefits such as reducing plaque, preventing halitosis, gum diseases and cavities.
Oil pulling is not a modern discovery, it’s actually an ancient Indian remedy that’s been used for thousands of years. There is science behind it, although when it was first used, people only noticed the amazing effects without putting too much thought into how it actually works.
The oil contains lipids, which pull out bacteria and other microorganisms from the mouth, without harming teeth or gums. It can gently remove plaque while pulling toxins and bacteria from the teeth.
It’s also a good alternative to flossing, especially for people that don’t have a lot of space between their teeth, like me. I always damaged my gums while flossing.
The typical health benefits of oil pulling are prevention of cavities, plaque build-up and removing harmful bacteria and toxins. However, users report other benefits like whiter teeth, healthier looking gums and reduced tartar. I take this with a grain of salt and so should you, but many people claim oil pulling also improved their skin appearance and reduced problems such as acne and eczemas.
Some studies have been performed to compare the effectiveness of oil pulling versus chlorhexidine mouthwash. They found both treatments were effective for reducing microorganisms, especially Streptococcus mutans.
The first thing you need to do is choose the oil you’re going to use. It has to be natural, cold-pressed oil that’s suitable for consumption. The most popular and effective oils used for this practice are coconut and sesame oil, although sunflower oil is also used.
1. In the morning, on an empty stomach, take 2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth. Coconut oil will need a few seconds to become fluid.
2. Swish the oil into your mouth, making sure it goes through all your teeth. At first, the oil mixed with saliva turns into a white, thin fluid. As you continue to swish it turns into a thicker, viscous fluid. This may take anything between 15 to 20 minutes.
Don’t swallow the oil because it is full of bacteria and toxins. You’re trying to get rid of them not let them back in.
3. Spit out the oil. You shouldn’t spit it in the sink, spreading all that bacteria and other microorganisms. The best options are the toilet or the trash can.
4. Rinse with water and brush your teeth like you normally do. That’s it!
Oil pulling sounds good and all, but there’s a tiny problem. Swishing oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes may seem like a very long time. To get used with this practice you can start with a shorter period and work it up gradually. Also, you can have other activities while swishing oil, such as taking a shower, preparing your breakfast, getting dressed for work…etc. It’s a routine that takes a bit of practice, but it becomes easier in time.