Trendy? It’s SO Last Week!
Oil pulling is gaining in popularity recently (thanks in part to Dr. Oz!), but has actually been used for thousands of years. There have been dental claims to its benefit, such as decreasing the risk of decay (cavities) and gingivitis, whitening teeth and reducing bad breath, not to mention potential systemic benefits of “detoxing,” by eliminating harmful toxins and bacteria from your body through your oral mucosa. After all, they say your mouth is the gateway to your body!
The Nitty Gritty
Microscopically, the body of a bacteria cell is made up of lipids (fat) so it is said that the bacteria adhere to the ‘like’ fats in the oil while you are swishing. The process of oil pulling allegedly creates an environment in your mouth that “pulls” bacteria into the oil.
Push, Pull Repeat (like, a bunch).
The act of oil pulling consists of ‘swishing’ with a tablespoon of oil (it seems most effectively Coconut oil because of its biological make-up) for 20 minutes until it becomes thin and/or milky white. The longer you push and pull the oil through your teeth, the more microbes are pulled free. PUSH AND PULL AND PUSH AND PULL REPEAT. This could be quite a challenge for most people in the beginning! Start small by swishing for 5 minutes and gradually increase your time by a minute each day.After 20 minutes the solution is filled with bacteria, viruses and other organisms… Eeeeew, spit that out!
Ummmm, And By The Way …
- Don’t swallow it! If you find that you are accidentally swallowing the oil, cut back on the amount that you’re using.
- When you are finished pulling, spit it into the trash. Don’t discard the oil in the sink or down the toilet because over time the oil may build up and clog the pipes.
- After spitting, do not drink anything before rinsing your mouth with water first.
So, Is All Of That Worth It??
Despite the recent buzz, there have been very few clinical trials or studies on the matter, and the ADA (at this point in time) has no comment regarding the practice. In both clinical trials that researched the effects of oil pulling vs. mouthwash, the mouthwash group showed a reduction in bacteria much sooner that the oil group.
With all of that said, it can’t hurt to try it if you’re interested! The studies have shown that oil pulling will remove one of the main bacteria that causes decay (Streptococus Mutans), but once decay has dissolved the enamel and created a hole in the tooth (aka “cavity”), the only way to prevent the cavity from getting larger is to have it restored…that’s right, a comfortable seat in your dentists chair!
The Fine Print
The Smile Design Centre does not recommend oil pulling in place of normal oral hygiene routines of brushing and flossing, but rather be a supplement to your daily routine. Although oil pulling reports removing some harmful bacteria, it does NOT remove the sticky stuff (plaque and tartar) that the bacteria thrive in, nor does it actually “remove” decay (a cavity) that has already been formed in the tooth. Seriously, Harmful bacteria need to be effectively removed on a daily basis by brushing and flossing. You know that right? Oh good, Taryn and Abby will be SO proud!