Heard of oil pulling? Uh huh. Thought so. Oil pulling is the latest trend to pop up in the world of oral hygiene and is quite the hot topic. Dental professionals whose patients have embraced oil pulling are now having to tackle discussions regarding the holistic approach to oral hygiene. The science behind this alternative medicine is fascinating, let’s get you caught up to speed on this trendy routine.
Oil pulling originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems. It works by removing disease-causing microorganisms and toxins in the mouth that cause ill health. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to our high school biology lessons, shall we?
Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell. Cells are covered with a lipid (fatty) membrane, which is the cell’s skin. When you add two oils together they combine because they are attracted to each other. (Love at first sight, if you will.) Therefore, when you swish around oil in your mouth, the fatty membranes of the microorganisms are attracted to it.
PUSH AND PULL
As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are picked up as though they are being drawn to a powerful magnet. Bacteria hiding under crevices in the gums and in pores and tubules within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution. The longer you push and pull the oil through your mouth, the more microbes are pulled free. After 20 minutes the solution is filled with bacteria, viruses and other organisms. Gross, we know.
SESAME, SUNFLOWER, COCONUT, OH MY!
In a nutshell, the process of oil pulling involves swishing a spoonful of sunflower, sesame or coconut oil in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. That’s a lot of swishing. Also? Sesame, sunflower and coconut oil may taste great splashed on salads or used to cook a fabulous meal, but on its own in your mouth for 20 minutes might not be that pleasant of an experience. It may be the longest 20 minutes of your life. More power to you if you try it and don’t mind the taste.
The phrase “oil pulling”comes from the process of the oil being “worked” in the mouth by pushing, pulling and sucking it through the teeth. As you work (swish) the oil around in your mouth, it sucks up bacteria, toxins and mucous. The process is known to rid the mouth of tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, loose teeth, and bleeding and receding gums. At the same time, it could help you achieve a bright white smile and healthy pink gums.
If you embrace oil pulling as part of your daily teeth cleaning regimen, there are a few rules you should adhere to:
Number 1: Don’t swallow it! When you are finished pulling, spit it into the trash.
Number 2: Don’t discard the oil in the sink or down the toilet because over time the oil may build up and clog the pipes. Imagine explaining to the plumber why you need his services to unclog the sink.
Number 3: After spitting, do not drink anything before rinsing your mouth with water first. Trust me, that Starbucks Caramel Macchiato will not be so delicious if it’s chasing coconut oil.
If you are all about holistic approaches in replace of modern medicine, go ahead and give oil pulling a try. The state of your oral health may not improve after one session of oil mouthwash swishing, but if you can manage to keep it up, you might find yourself reaping the practice’s long term benefits. This is a supplemental therapy to routine dental care.