By: Abigail White R.D.H
Oil pulling seems to be the new craze patients are excited to talk about, although according to other parts of the world, this therapy is nothing new. Oil pulling, also called oil swishing, is a traditional folk remedy where oil is swished or held in the mouth. Ayurvedic medicine, which is a system of traditional and alternative medicine native to India, states oil pulling is capable of improving oral and systemic health by pulling out toxins and reducing inflammation
Proper Pulling Technique
- First thing in the morning, before brushing or eating, put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth. Organic food quality oils are recommended and vary widely. Sesame oil is most popular, with coconut oil, sunflower oil, olive oil and safflower oil following. Scoop it out as a solid and let it melt in your mouth before swishing.
- Swish for 20 minutes. Yes, that’s right, 20 minutes! According to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, timing is key. This is just long enough to break through bacteria and plaque, but not too long that the body starts actually re-absorbing the toxins. The oil will actually get milky and thicker as it is mixed with saliva during this time.
- Spit oil into the trash can, NOT THE SINK! Those oils can clog the drain or cause various plumbing problems, especially if you have a septic system. The oil should now appear creamy-white. Make sure NOT to swallow the oil! At this point it should be full of all the toxins, bacteria and pus that was extracted from your mouth- YUM! So spit and spit again.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water.
- Last but certainly not least,f loss and brush well. It will make your dental hygienist happy!
Benefits of Oil Pulling
I spent many hours researching the efficiency of oil pulling, to the point where my brain actually started to feel like swooshing oil. On a lighter note, I found a broad range of topics dealing with the oral cavity, as well as benefits beyond the mouth. In short, it appears many scientists believe that the lipids in the oil pull out bacteria and stop it from sticking to the walls of the mouth. Other possible oral health benefits include:
- Overall strengthening of the teeth, gums and jaw
- Halitosis savior (aka stinky breath)
- Prevention of cavities and gingivitis
- Prevention of overall dryness of the lips, mouth and throat
- Relieves TMJ related soreness
- Natural tooth whitener
- Reduces sensitivity
And beyond the mouth…
- Migraine headache relief
- Correcting hormone imbalances
- Reducing inflammation of arthritis
- May help with gastro-enteritis
- Helps rid acne, eczema, psoriasis
- May reduce symptoms of bronchitis
- Helps support normal kidney function
- May help reduce sinus congestion and allergy symptoms
- Improved vision reports
- Insomnia reduction
- Reduced hangovers after alcohol consumption (score!)
- Overall body detox
What Do We Think?
The dental hygiene department is completely perplexed. What do we make of this new trend? Could it be a total coincidence that overall oral health seems to have improved in patients partaking in oil pulling? Have they been more diligent with home care routines? Are they less stressed? Has their overall health improved? Did they change hygiene products? Or do I dare speculate they are actually FLOSSING?
Whatever the case may be and before you get too excited, this therapy will never replace good ol’ brushing and flossing but for people who are interested, it could possibly be used as a substitute for mouthwash. Any reduction in bacteria results in less inflammation, which means less bleeding and ultimately less pain during appointments.
Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
Am I in any rush to give oil pulling two thumbs up for a cure-all? The short answer is no. What I have concluded is that this therapy really is an old way to clean your mouth more thoroughly than you probably are now. No magic tricks are being performed; it’s just one of the many ways you can keep your mouth as clean and healthy as possible.
Alternative medicine and dentistry is here to stay, so let’s open the dialogue and get involved. Have you ever tried oil pulling? What was your experience?
HV Amith, Anil V Ankola, L Nagesh. Effect of Oil Pulling on Plaque and Gingivitis. Journal of Oral Health & Community Dentistry: 2007 ;1(1):Pages 12-18