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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oil Pulling for Dental Health?

I've been hearing tons about 'Oil Pulling' over the last few months, but haven't paid a lot of attention.  Way too much going on.  But finally, an endorsement from a friend I actually trust appeared on my radar. . .so I decided to look into it.  Apparently, it's all the rage at the moment.

But it's more than a fashionable trend, lighting up all kinds of blogs and discussion boards. . .it seems like there is actually a bit of science (and multiple studies) behind it.

What's 'Oil Pulling?'  Well, basically, it's swishing an unrefined oil around in your mouth like a mouthwash.  

 Why?  Well the benefits, according to a variety of internet sources, are supposed to be manifold:

  • It helps to limit bacteria in the mouth, which is plentiful.  It is especially good to address Streptococcus Mutans, which is the particular bacteria largely responsible for cavities, gingivitis, and plaque build-up.  The oil somehow causes the bad bacteria to dissolve as it gets 'stuck' in the oil.  And because so much bacteria is removed in this process, your breath is supposed to smell much better, too.  
  • Other claims are that your teeth get whiter, your sinuses can loosen up, your teeth can re-mineralize and your gums can strengthen.  Further, it is said to address head-aches, bronchitis, tooth pain, thrombosis, eczema, ulcers and diseases of stomach, intestines, heart, blood, kidney, liver, lungs and women’s diseases. It heals diseases of nerves, paralysis, and encephalitis. It prevents the growth of malignant tumors, cuts and heals them. Chronic sleeplessness is also cure

    Long list, isn't it?  I am a little dubious about the second half of that list, but the first half is actually fairly substantiated.  Enough to make me curious enough to give it a go, at least!

    I've chosen to use coconut oil, which seems to have replaced more traditional oils such as unrefined sesame or sunflower because it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and enzymatic properties.  Plus, it tastes better!

    How do you do it?  Pretty simple, actually.

    • Take 1/2-1 one tablespoon of coconut oil into your mouth.  If it is solid (as coconut oil is at room temperature), let it melt in your mouth.
    • When fully melted, begin to push and pull the oil between your teeth and swish it around your gums.
    • Make sure you get into all the corners of your mouth, but not into your throat.  Do not swallow.
    • Keep going for 5-20 minutes (average of 10 minutes seems popular!).
    • Spit the oil out into the toilet or a garbage can.
    • Rinse your mouth well.
    • Brush your teeth as normal.
    • Repeat once per day.

    It may seem like a LONG time to have a mouthful of oil at first, but if you do it while you are in the shower, or as you are closing up the house for the night, you won't feel like it takes so long.  Start with 5 minutes at first and build up in time if you need to.

    I have only done it twice so far, so I'm hardly an expert, but it seemed easy enough to do if I was distracted by something else.  This was good, because the first night it felt a little gross to have a mouth full of oil.  But the second night I was doing 'getting ready for bed' stuff and didn't even think so much about it.

    I'll let you know how it goes. . .

    (Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)

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