The latest trend in oral health is oil pulling. If you haven’t yet heard of oil pulling, it might sound a bit strange. After all, when you think of using toothpaste and mouthwash for oral health, oil doesn’t quite fit in the same category. But the most recent research suggests that using oil as part of an overall oral hygiene routine is an effective protector against cavities, as well as potentially improving the look of the teeth.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is an ancient technique that dates back 3,000 in Ayurvedic medicine. In oil pulling, you take and hold a small amount – about a tablespoon – of oil in your mouth and swish it around and through your teeth. Traditionally, you would swish for 20 minutes, but if that seems too long, you can lead up to that amount of time. After the 20 minutes are up, it’s important that you don’t swallow the oil, but spit it out. The reason for this is that the oil pulls bacteria away from teeth and gums, so you don’t want to then ingest that same bacteria-ridden oil.
What are the Benefits of Oil Pulling?
Among the purported benefits of oil pulling is a massive reduction of bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria are responsible for tooth decay, bad breath and other oral health issues such as bleeding gums. Regular oil pulling on a daily basis can lead to better oral health, including the potential for whiter teeth due to intense cleaning with the oil.
What Oil Should Be Used for Oil Pulling?
The number one most common oil used for oil pulling is coconut oil. Coconut oil has anti-bacterial properties that make it ideal for combatting the bacteria in the mouth. If you dislike the taste of coconut, you can buy refined coconut oil, which is nearly tasteless.
What are the Risks of Oil Pulling?
When you practice oil pulling, you are using your tongue and mouth muscles to swish and draw the oil through your teeth. Over time, doing these movements on a daily basis for 20 minutes each day can cause soreness and muscle discomfort in the mouth and jaw. This is especially true if you aren’t used to using your mouth and jaw muscles in this way. This risk isn’t harmful in any serious way, but it can be uncomfortable enough that it makes you stop oil pulling. To avoid this small side effect, try keeping your muscles as relaxed as possible, using slow, gentle movements rather than hard, sharp movements.
The second risk with oil pulling is relevant if you have loose teeth. Oil pulling around loose teeth can exacerbate the issue, which would be an unwanted side effect. Be sure to visit a dentist to remedy any situation with loose teeth before embarking on an oil pulling routine.
Finally, it’s best to get the advice and support of your family dentist before starting oil pulling in general. You may or may not have dental issues that would prohibit oil pulling. For more information about maximizing your oral health with oil pulling, contact your dentist.