The practice is called oil pulling, an ancient Ayurvedic remedy that has been making quite the comeback in the 21st century. Oil pulling, which involves swishing with oil (traditionally sesame oil) for a set amount of time, was thought to provide protection from cavities and bad breath, contribute to healthy gums, and provide all sorts of systemic health benefits. But is there any validity to these ancient claims? That is exactly the question we set out to answer, and you may be surprised by what we found.
Oil-Pulling Reduces The Amount Of Harmful Bacteria In The Mouth
Oil pulling removes harmful bacteria, parasites and toxins from your mouth. An unhealthy balance of bacteria in the mouth contributes to tooth decay, bad breath, and destroys supporting bone and gums, leading to gum disease and eventually tooth loss. According to clinical trials, oil pulling with sesame oil reduces Streptococcus mutans, a significant contributor to poor oral health. Studies have shown that swishing with sesame oil is equally as effective as chlorhexidine (the gold standard of medicinal mouthwashes). In fact, sesame oil has quite a few advantages over standard and commercially available mouthwashes. While rinsing with chlorhexidine causes staining and leaves an unpleasant aftertaste, sesame oil offers neither of these, is a cheaper alternative, and is more readily available.
Take a look at all of the benefits that come with reducing the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Protection from diseases of the gums and supporting bone, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
- Protection from tooth decay.
- Strengthening of the teeth, gums and jaw.
- Reduces bad breath.
- Protection from dry lips, mouth and throat.
It is important to note that almost all of the studies showing beneficial results with oil pulling used sesame oil as the oil of choice.
Oil-Pulling Therapy Likely Benefits Overall Health
An extraordinary amount of research has been conducted to determine the link between oral and systemic health. The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body and there is no denying that poor oral hygiene is linked to other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Therefore, treating the underlying cause of poor oral health may also help with the management and prevention of other chronic conditions.
How To Oil Pull
Although the name may sound confusing, oil pulling is actually quite simple. Swish with 1 to 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. If 15-20 minutes is too long for you, simply start with a shorter time and work up to the full duration. While swishing, gently pull and push the liquid in and out between your teeth, making sure to coat your entire mouth. For best results, practice oil pulling after you wake up in the morning, before brushing your teeth, 3 or more times per week. When finished, spit the oil out into a trashcan, rinse with water and brush your teeth. Please note that spitting the oil into a sink can potentially clog the drain. As you swish, the oil will be collecting toxins, bacteria and parasites. Because of this, swallowing the oil is absolutely not recommended.
Oil pulling is proving to be one of the most effective holistic approaches to oral health. Showing us once again, that not all ancient remedies should be left in the past. Try it for yourself!
Asokan, S., Kumar, R. S., Emmadi, P., Raghuraman, R., & Sivakumar, N. (2011). Effect of oil pulling on halitosis and microorganisms causing halitosis: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, 29(2), 90.
Asokan, S., Rathan, J., Muthu, M. S., Rathna, P. V., & Emmadi, P. (2008). Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, 26(1), 12.
Asokan, S., Emmadi, P., & Chamundeswari, R. (2009). Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian Journal of Dental Research, 20(1), 47.
Singh, A., & Purohit, B. (2011). Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 2(2), 64.
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