Oil pulling is an Indian health remedy that has been claimed to whiten your teeth, improve your oral hygiene, and provide other health benefits. In recent years, as natural remedies have become more widely used, coconut oil pulling has become more popular. In this article, we’re taking a look at how oil pulling works and some of its primary health benefits.
How to Try Oil Pulling
To try oil pulling, put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around like mouthwash. After 15 to 20 minutes, dispose of the oil into your rubbish bin. Take care not to put any coconut oil down your sink as this can block drainage pipes. Oil pulling can be challenging to start with so it can be helpful to begin with swishing the oil around your mouth for just 5 minutes and and working your way up to 15 minutes.
Dental Hygiene Benefits of Oil Pulling
With the 15 to 20 minutes you spend oil pulling, you can experience a range of benefits and improvements to your dental hygiene. The main benefit of oil pulling is its ability to eliminate harmful bacteria in your mouth. The mouth has hundreds of types of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are good for your health while other bacteria can build up and cause bad breath, gum inflammation, gingivitis, and cavities.
Harmful bacteria are thought to be “pulled” out of your mouth with oil pulling. While oil pulling can work with any oil, extra-virgin coconut oil is popular due to its pleasant taste. Coconut oil also has a good fatty acid profile as it contains lauric acid — an acid with antimicrobial properties.
A study by the American Society for Microbiology tested the bacteria-fighting abilities of 30 different fatty acids. Lauric acid, found in coconut oil, was found to be the most effective in fighting bacteria. With oil pulling, lauric acid can kill the harmful bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.
Another study investigating the effects of oil pulling with coconut oil found that it significantly decreased plaque build-up. In this study, 60 participants who had plaque-induced gum disease noticed a reduction in plaque after 7 days and a continual decrease in plaque throughout the 30-day study.
Other Health Benefits of Oil Pulling
Beyond improving your oral hygiene, oil pulling has been thought to whiten teeth and have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. While there haven’t been any conclusive studies that evaluate these findings, the removal of harmful bacteria from the body through oil pulling could improve your overall health which may have a positive impact on inflammation. This is where the claims that oil pulling can reduce inflammation originated, given that coconut oil has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
While this seems plausible, further research over the coming years will be able to provide definitive answers on whether the additional health benefits of oil pulling, beyond dental hygiene, are accurate.
Using coconut oil for oil pulling can provide many health benefits including improved dental hygiene and the elimination of harmful bacteria in the mouth. With oil pulling becoming more popular in recent years, there isn’t a lot of science-backed evidence supporting the benefits of oil pulling yet. As a simple activity to complement your health routine, oil pulling can be an easy way to improve your health. Try it each day for a couple of weeks to see if you notice a difference.
Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. 2010: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645831.
Effect of coconut oil in plaque-related gingivitis – A preliminary report. 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25838632.
Fatty Acids and Derivatives as Antimicrobial Agents. 1972: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC444260/.
Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review. 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5198813/.
Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. 2011: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3131773/.
Tooth decay: Overview. 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072698/.
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