Today’s world is filled with chemicals, pollutants, and genetically modified food. People have concerns about the ingredients found in commercially produced toothpaste and mouthwash. Many people are looking for all natural ways to improve their health. Oil pulling is one of the increasingly popular ways of avoiding unnatural substances while improving your mouth’s health.  

What is Oil Pulling?

coconut oil

Oil pulling is swishing oil in your mouth like mouthwash. People practicing oil pulling believe it removes bacteria in your mouth. And, that it also improves oral hygiene and can improve your general overall health.  

How Does Oil Pulling Work?

Oil pulling is a natural healing method by followers of Ayurveda. This is an ancient Indian folk medicine practice to improve oral health. Followers believe oil pulling reduces bleeding gums, cracked lips, and bad breath. It can also reduce the dryness of the mouth and throat. Other benefits include strengthening your jaws, teeth, and gums. The holistic practice includes eating herbs, chewing on sticks, and oil pulling.

Oil pulling has been in existence over 3,000 years. There have not been many studies to understand its effectiveness or how it works. Users of oil pulling believe it helps with gingivitis, plaque, and bad breath.

What are the Advantages of Oil Pulling?

Your mouth is the entry point for everything you take into your body. It is where your body’s health begins. Your mouth is also where poor health can begin.

Brushing your teeth is an important part of keeping your mouth healthy. Brushing can’t get rid of all the bad bacteria in your mouth and many people rush through the brushing process. Oil pulling is a way to get rid of bacteria and toxins in your mouth and keep them from getting into your body.

Reducing Microorganisms in Your Mouth

Your mouth has 350 to 700 microorganisms in it. People that use oil pulling believe it “pulls” bacteria and plaque from their teeth. The microorganisms that live in your mouth are single cell organisms. They have a fat based covering on them. 

When you add oil to your mouth the fat covered microorganisms and toxins are attracted to the oil in your mouth. Swishing the oil through your mouth and teeth removes these microorganisms and toxins. This gives you a healthier mouth. You need to “pull” at least 5 minutes for the microorganisms and toxins to emulsify into the oil.

Reducing Bad Breath

bad breath

50% of people struggle with bad breath. Bad breath causes are poor oral hygiene, tongue coating, and infections. Most of the time bad breath is the result of bad bacteria growing in your mouth. While you sleep your mouth stops producing saliva. This gives the bad bacterial all night to reproduce and cause bad breath problems. Oil pulling reduces the microorganisms that cause bad breath.

Tooth Decay Prevention  

Tooth decay causes cavities. Poor oral hygiene, bacteria, and poor diet all contribute to tooth decay.  There are also many medications taken by people today that have ‘dry mouth’ as a side effect. Your mouth needs to stay hydrated. Anytime your mouth feels dry bacteria are reproducing. 

Your saliva contains enzymes, nutrients, buffers, and antibodies. These keep your mouth healthy. Plaque is bacteria, food particles and saliva forming a covering on teeth. This covering becomes a contributor to tooth decay. Oil pulling reduces bacterial causes of tooth decay.

Inflammation Reduction and Gum Health Improvement 

Poor oral health contributes to an inflammation of the gums. This inflammation is gingivitis. This bacterial and causes your gums to bleed. When your gums are bleeding it provides an opening for bacteria to enter your body. 

Oil pulling improves saliva production and moisturizes your gums. This helps to naturally clean your teeth. Coconut oil is particularly effective for controlling bacteria. It is the bacteria that causes inflammation and gum disease.

How do I do Oil Pulling?

If you would like to try oil pulling following are the steps:

  • Oil pull in the early morning
  • Always pull on an empty stomach
  • Pull before breakfast
  • If you use a tongue scraper, scrape any coating off
  • Adults should use1 tablespoon of coconut, sesame, olive or sunflower oil
  • Children over the age of 5 should use 1 teaspoon of oil
  • Gently  swish the oil by sucking it back forth through your teeth for 20 minutes
  • Remember  to breathe
  • Never swallow the oil as the bacteria and toxins will then be in your body
  • When you are through the oil should have a milky white color and a thinner texture
  • Spit the oil onto a paper towel and throw it away
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water
  • Clean your teeth with your fingers or toothbrush

Complete the process before eating a meal. It is best to oil pull while sitting and keeping your chin up. Some people like to do early morning pulling while taking their morning shower. Others find it better to oil pull during the day while performing tasks around your home. When finished do not spit the oil into your sink as it may create clogs in your pipes.

If you find 20 minutes is too difficult, start with 5 minutes and gradually increase the time. Oil pull a few times a week or up to 3 times a day before mealtime.

What is the Best Oil to Use for Oil Pulling?

Several popular options for oil pulling are available in your kitchen. The oils should be organic, and cold pressed. Any of these oils are acceptable oils for pulling:

Sesame Oil

a bottle of Sesame oil

Sesame oil is the traditional oil and has anti-fungal qualities good for oil pulling. It reduces streptococcus bacteria. It also reduces inflammation. Sesame oil is also good for digestion.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has lauric acid which is naturally antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Coconut chews are now available and make the process even easier.

Olive Oil

olive oil

Olive oil has oleocanthal, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory qualities. This makes it especially good for your gums. Make sure the olive oil you use is NOT ‘Lampante’ (fake olive oil). You need ‘the real thing’ for oil pulling.

Sunflower Seed Oil

sunflower oil

Sunflower seed oil reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system. It also helps to reduce bacterial infections.

Ghee

ghee

Ghee is clarified butter used in India. It is sometimes used for oil pulling. Ghee is a dairy product, so if you are sensitive to dairy products, this is not the oil you’re looking for. It has bacterial fighting properties and is immune boosting. It promotes good gut health and is good for detoxifying.

Any of these food grade oils will work for oil pulling. Do not use any oils that are not approved as food grade.

Are There any Bad Side Effects when Oil Pulling?

Your body might be used to having toxins in it. As oil pulling detoxifies your body you might notice some mild discomfort. These side effects should not last very long:

  • Your teeth might hurt a little. The hurt should leave as quickly as it came
  • Your sinus’ might start to run for a brief amount of time
  • You might expel mucus
  • A slight headache, which should go away fairly quickly
  • Be aware and listen to your body. It is good to notice changes. You should realize changes are happening, and the side effects are leaving.

Will Oil Pulling Whiten My Teeth?

There is no evidence that oil pulling will whiten your teeth.

Who Should Not Use Oil Pulling?

Children under the age of 5 should not use oil pulling. They are not old enough to hold the oil in their mouths without swallowing it. Children under the age of 5 risks swallowing the oil. This could aspirate into their lungs which is a serious problem.

If you are allergic to any ingredient in the oils, you should not use them.

What is the American Dental Association’s Position on Oil Pulling?

The American Dental Association does not believe enough testing has been done. Few tests have been performed. There is an absence of negative controls and a lack of demographic information. Testing results have been misinterpreted. There are insufficient studies to show dental decay and cavities have been reduced. Studies have not shown teeth whitened. Nor has improvements to mouth and overall health and well being been proven.

If the oil is swallowed and gets into the lungs it could result in lipoid pneumonia. Swallowing oil could also result in digestive problems, upset stomach or diarrhea.

Why Not Give Oil Pulling a Try?

Everyone is looking for ways to improve their health using natural methods. While there are few studies supporting oil pulling, you don’t have anything to lose in trying it. Oil pulling does not replace brushing and flossing. Regular dental care, maintenance, cleaning, and check-ups are still needed. Think of oil pulling as an alternative to mouthwash. Oil pulling is a safe, inexpensive and easy addition to your regular dental regimen. Oil pulling is currently practiced in Russia, Ukraine, China, India, and Africa, so why not give it a try?

Karl Townsend Administrator
Having suffered for decades, I know a thing or two about bad oral hygiene. That\'s why I started this site. To help educate and inform visitors on good oral products and how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
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