You may have heard recent hype over an ancient Indian remedy, commonly referred to as oil pulling. For over a thousand years, people have trusted this Ayurvedic method, the traditional medicine system from India, and it has since gained local popularity. But, what exactly is it? Does it actually help? Below is an in-depth description of oil pulling and its benefits.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling strives to capture and remove harmful bacteria in your mouth as you swish one tablespoon of oil in your mouth for about 15-20 minutes. Most people who practice oil pulling choose extra-virgin coconut oil. It is arguably the best tasting oil, but does come in solid form, which means you must work a little harder in the beginning to melt the oil in your mouth as you swish it. The oil will melt quickly, however, and become just as thin as any other oil. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a strong antibacterial that can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi within your body. This acid will work just as well in your mouth as it attacks harmful bacteria, especially Streptococcus mutans, the leading bacteria that causes tooth decay.
If 15-20 minutes sounds impossible, start your oil pulling timeline at about 2 minutes. While longer swishing will remove more bacteria, a short swish can still aid in your oral health and you can slowly work your way up. Keep in mind that the first couple minutes are the most difficult and your jaw muscles will burn a little as you begin this new procedure. It is similar to your leg muscles burning during the first couple of minutes of your run. Pretty soon, the swishing gets easier and 20 minutes will fly by.
Once the 20 minutes is up, spit the oil into a trashcan. Then, rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth. You will notice that your mouth will feel much cleaner than it did when you started. This is not your imagination.
Oil Pulling Benefits
Oil pulling argues that swishing oil in your mouth will help freshen your breath and whiten your teeth. This oral hygiene trick can remove harmful bacteria and plaque from your mouth. Every mouth contains over 700 different types of bacteria and at least 350 different types at one time. Some bacteria are essential and beneficial, some are not so good for you. You can tell the difference between beneficial and harmful bacteria because you can usually smell it on someone’s breath. Other than halitosis, too much harmful bacteria can lead to gum inflammation, cavities, and gingivitis.
Some studies examine evidence based on a range of different-aged individuals who tried oil pulling and found noticeable reductions in halitosis, gingivitis, plaque build-up, tooth decay, etc. Other studies have noted that oil pulling also moisturizes and reduces the inflammation around your gums. These individuals practiced oil pulling for 10 minutes every day. You can try this same routine, or if you choose to oil pull for 15-20 minutes each session, then you can limit it to three times a week.