Oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic practice that has been taking place for over five thousand years, it involves taking a mouthful of edible oil (Sesame oil is traditionally used but it can be swapped for other oils such as olive, sunflower or coconut oil, both coconut and sesame oil are the most beneficial due to their antibacterial properties)swishing it around the mouth and pulling it through the teeth for up to twenty minutes before spitting it out. Make sure you are disposing of your oil in a bin and not down the sink or toilet as this can cause blockages. Ayurvedic Oil pulling is best practised in the morning before consuming any food but after brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue. It is said to remove bad bacteria from the mouth resulting in better breath, a reduction in tooth decay and gum problems. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is not only a treatment for dental concerns, it is also said to support healthy sinuses, detoxify vital organs and produce an anti-inflammatory effect within the body.
The Oral Microbiome and How Oil Pulling Can Help.
There is currently expanding research being done on the oral microbiome. The oral microbiome describes the microorganisms that can be found in the human mouth, this includes over 700 types of bacteria both good and bad. Most of us have heard of the gut microbiome and how it’s health impacts our overall health but the oral microbiome has been overlooked. All microbial colonies present in the human body have an impact on our overall health. A healthy Oral microbiome will positively impact our: digestion, metabolic regulation, skin health and immune system.
There is also evidence to suggest certain links between gum disease and heart disease, this is particularly pertinent to those with pre-existing heart conditions or vulnerabilities. The bad bacteria that are present when you have gum disease can cross into your bloodstream and enter the heart which can infect vulnerable heart valves.
There haven’t been extensive studies done into the benefits of oil pulling but the studies that have been done have concluded that at the very least participants who partook in continued oil pulling (14 days or more) had a significant reduction in bad bacteria in the saliva. Another study concluded that oil pulling can reduce total oral bacterial counts and reduce plaque and gingival scores.
These results and the research being done into the oral microbiome give a lot of credence to the claims that Ayurvedic medicine makes for oil pulling. This especially relates to the claim that it can detoxify the vital organs because if the links between heart disease and gum disease are proven then the capacity oil pulling has for ridding the mouth of bad bacteria will in turn aid in heart health.
My Experience with Oil-Pulling
My mum has always been interested in and involved with alternative medicines, this interest led her to oil-pulling. In the past few years, she has had many tooth and gum problems and has been using oil pulling with coconut oil to help. She has experienced an improvement in her overall oral health and continues to do it daily.
Mum would always encourage me to try it, however as a teenager keeping up any kind of self-care practice is a big ask. It is only in the past year that I have taken her good advice and committed to oil-pulling most days. The catalyst for this was actually a wisdom tooth infection that became recurrent, not wanting to take antibiotics more than necessary I opted to try oil-pulling. I could tell a difference after only a few days, the pain eased up and the inflammation went down significantly, within a week and a half the infection had completely cleared up. Six months on and I am still Oil-pulling almost daily, give or take the odd hungover day when the idea of swilling oil around my mouth is unbearable.
I only started oil pulling to fix an immediate problem but I continued implementing it in my daily routine because it makes my mouth and teeth feel extremely clean, I haven’t had any dental problems or complaints since I started doing it and I think my teeth look whiter and more healthy. After reading about the potential other health benefits I will certainly continue doing it and I would recommend others to give it a go.