Oil pulling is an age-old remedy that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and evidence even shows that it is beneficial in improving gums and removing harmful bacteria!
The basic idea is that oil is swished in the mouth for a short time each day and that this helps improve oral health. Just as with Oil Cleansing for the skin, the principle of “like dissolves like” applies, as oil is able to cut through plaque and remove toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums.
The practice of oil pulling started in India thousands of years ago, and from my research, was first introduced to the United States in the early 1990s by a medical doctor named Dr. F. Karach, who used it with success in his medical practice.
There are hundreds of testimonials online from people who experienced benefits from oil pulling, including help with skin conditions, arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, liver problems and more.
Though I’ve only just started, my personal experience is increased oral health and less sensitive teeth. Many people report whiter teeth also. Because bacteria and infection can enter the blood through the mouth, it does make sense that addressing these infections could have an impact in other parts of the body.
At the very least, oil pulling can be very beneficial and has no downside as long as a quality cold pressed oil (that is high enough quality to eat) is used. Oil pulling is a very inexpensive therapy that could potentially have great benefit on oral health, so there's no downside to trying it and many people have used it for several years.
The concept is incredibly simple. Basically, a person swishes a teaspoon of a vegetable based oil (coconut, sesame or olive) in the mouth for 20 minutes and then spits it out and rinses well, preferably with salted water. Oil pulling is best done in the morning or the evening, before or after eating anything, though Dr. Bruce Fife suggests that it can be done before each meal if needed for more severe infections or dental problems.
How to do oil pulling:
- Put 1 teaspoon of oil into the mouth. I prefer to use 1 teaspoon of organic coconut oil. I scoop it out as a solid and let it melt in my mouth before swishing.
- Swish for 20 minutes. Apparently the timing is key, according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Oil Pulling Therapy, as this is long enough to break through plaque and bacteria, but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. The oil will get thicker and milky as it mixed with saliva during this time and it should be creamy-white when spit out.
- Spit oil into the trash can. Especially if you have a septic system. If you spit into the sink, rinse immediately with very hot water or vinegar. Do not swallow the oil as it is hopefully full of bacteria, toxins and pus that are now not in the mouth.
- Rinse well with warm salted water. Warm salted water cleans the mouth better. I swish a few times with warm water to get any remaining oil out of my mouth.
- Brush well. To make sure any remaining bacteria is killed.
I do this with coconut oil before bed. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and has a milder taste that other oils and is my personal preference, though I’ve also seen it recommended by oral health experts.
You will probably notice whiter teeth after starting oil pulling, and your teeth will be incredibly smooth. You should also notice less plaque when you have your teeth cleaned.
Does it Work?
There is evidence that it might help with many conditions. The most comprehensive resource I’ve seen on the topic is the book “Oil Pulling Therapy” by Dr. Bruce Fife. Here is Eva's oil pulling testimonial: http://uncooking101.com/site/article/why-oil-pull-how-does-oil-pull-help...
There are also testimonials showing that oil pulling is great for the skin, improving or eliminating acne, and huge benefits with allergy symptoms (removing mucus).
In alternative medicine, including in old Ayurvedic texts, oil pulling is an oral and systemic remedy that is said to cure about 30 system diseases, ranging from headaches to diabetes and asthma. One theory of why this works: Just as the skin is an organ that removes toxins from our body, the tongue is also a key organ for the elimination of toxins. Similar to how the foot is mapped out for reflexology, the tongue is also a map. Oil swishing eliminates toxins from every organ!
There are some scientific studies that support the benefits of oil pulling, including those showing its benefit on different types or oral bacteria, on dental caries, on plaque/gingivitis and on oral microorganisms:
S Asokan, J Rathan, MS Muthu, PV Rathna, P Emmadi, Raghuraman, Chamundeswari.Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry. 26(1):12-7, 2008 Mar
TD Anand, C Pothiraj, RM Gopinath, et al. Effect of oil-pulling on dental caries causing bacteria. African Journal of Microbiology Research, Vol 2:3 pp 63-66, MAR 2008. (PDF Link)
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
S Thaweboon, J Nakaparksin, B Thaweboon. Effect of Oil-Pulling on Oral Microorganisms in Biofilm Models. Asia Journal of Public Health: 2011 May-Aug. (PDF)