Oil pulling is often associated with Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system from India. It is an ancient practice that works to remove bacteria from the mouth and promote oral hygiene. Studies suggest that oil pulling not only can improve dental health, but it may also reduce the risk of certain oral diseases.
How oil pulling works is not entirely clear. The claim is that it “pulls” bacteria from the mouth by way of moisturizing the gums and increasing saliva production. Several studies indicate that various types of oil contain properties that help reduce bacteria and inflammation. Additionally, a select number of oils, with coconut oil nearly topping the list, may promote oral health. It’s a practice that many people use to aid oral detoxification, and we’ll cover how that happens below.
May Prevent Cavities
As one of the most common problems of tooth decay, cavities result from poor oral hygiene and bacterial build-up in the mouth. It’s also possible for plaque, which coats the teeth, to cause cavities. Bacteria break down the food particles and they form an acid that ruins tooth enamel and causes tooth decay. Oil pulling may reduce the bacterial presence in your mouth, which may prevent cavities and tooth decay. Some research found that oil pulling may decrease the number of harmful bacterial strains found in plaque and saliva.
May Kill Harmful Bacteria In The Mouth
Bacteria in the mouth can be both harmful and beneficial, given that there are 700 types of bacteria in the mouth at any given moment. One study that lasted two weeks monitored children who either used a standard mouthwash, or did oil pulling with sesame oil for 10 minutes daily. Both the mouthwash and oil pulling groups significantly reduced the amount of harmful bacteria in saliva and plaque. A more recent study confirmed that oil pulling with coconut oil had a similar effect.
May Improve Gum Health
The bacteria that exists in plaque, in addition to causing tooth decay, can also cause gingivitis. Bacteria inflames the gums, making them red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. According to some studies, however, oil pulling is a safe and effective remedy to improve gum health and reduce gum inflammation. Certain oils like coconut oil exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation in the mouth. A 30-day study monitored 60 participants with gingivitis who began oil pulling. After one week of oil pulling, the participants reduced the amount of plaque and showed an improvement in gum health.
May Reduce Bad Breath
Bad breath, or halitosis, affects about one in four people globally. Some of the most common causes for bad breath include gum disease, poor oral hygiene, poor gut health, or tongue coating (bacteria trapped on the tongue). One study found that oil pulling was as effective as chlorhexidine, a chemical in antiseptic mouthwash, at reducing bad breath. In that study, oil pulling with sesame oil significantly decreased levels of microorganisms that contributed to bad breath.
Homemade Oil Pulling Tablets
- 1 cup unrefined, virgin coconut oil
- Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. You can also do this in the top of a double boiler if you prefer to use that method.
- Get a silicone candy mold and place it on a baking sheet. The size of the molds can vary depending on your preference. You can also fill the molds all the way or halfway.
- Pour the coconut oil into the candy molds and then transfer the sheet with the molds to the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge once the coconut oil is firm.
- Pop the hardened coconut oil from the molds and store in a glass container in the refrigerator.