A practice that is more than 3000-years old is being rediscovered by science. It involves taking a tablespoon of oil into your mouth and swishing it around. The oil is usually coconut or seasame oil.
10 minutes later, the oil that’s been “pulled” around your mouth by the swishing action, comes out – foamy and full of bacteria and toxins. Here’s a video of how it’s done – from a doctor we like. Your mouth feels literally squeaky clean.
But regular mouthwash does the same thing. So what’s the big deal about oil pulling?
There’s some hard science and a lot of traditional wisdom going for the practice. So here are 6 immediate benefits of oil pulling that should convince you to try.
You can look up any of Youtube videos that folks have put up, showing yellowish teeth before the oil pulling and the distinctively white teeth after 15 days. Or, you can go with the scientific studies that have looked at the measurable benefits of oil pulling. Here’s one that found significant reduction in plaque and gingivits (gum disease) in just 10 days!
Oil pulling reduces the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth. The bad bacteria are the ones that cause the kind of morning breath that can drive your best friends away. Ergo, you get fresher breath. Now there are no Youtube videos on this, but there’s science to back it up – on how the oil pulling reduces bad bacteria and on how this positively impacts halitosis (bad breath).
The mouthwash you’ve been using most likely contains alcohol. It kills both good and bad bacteria in your mouth. The good bacteria help produce nitrates from food, which open blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. If you like the strong mouthwashes, they may have a little magic ingredient called chlorhexidine, which raises your blood pressure even when used for a day! Chlorhexidine mouthwash should be used only by those with serious dental infections, that too for the short term. Oil does not have these drawbacks.
Bacteria hide in difficult-to-find places in the mouth. Neither brushing nor flossing are able to reach these places. When you have a root canal done, since you get all your nerves in the area taken out, your immune system no longer knows what’s going on there. Anaerobic bacteria have been found to grow there, unchecked. They then travel through the blood to damage your blood vessels and cause blood clots. Oil pulling, due to the sticky, soapy nature of the oil, gets into hard-to-reach places and cleans the bacteria out.
The physical process of swishing and pulling the oil is said to stimulate the lymphatic system in the face and head region. Our lymph is responsible for cleaning out wastes. Decongesting the lymph vessels lead to a feeling of lightness and clarity in the head region. Women also report fewer instances of bloating when they do oil pulling. The research is not yet clear on this, but experts feel that this could be due to the reduction in overall inflammation-causing bacteria.
The body has a strict blood-brain barrier to prevent harmful chemicals like mercury and harmful bacteria like Porphyromonas gingivalis from getting into the brain. But it does happen, through the mouth, at times. Many dentists are speaking out against mercury dental fillings today for this reason. Oil “sticks” to many of these harmful chemicals and bacteria and when you swish it around the mouth daily, it pulls this gunk out of your body and keeps your brain safe.