It’s been said that total body health begins in the mouth. But why?
Well, for one thing, it’s the gateway through which you either nourish yourself with life-supporting food and drink or burden your body with toxins from alcohol, cigarettes, drugs or processed foods.
Furthermore, a clean mouth may also be the key to preventing disease, and studies are beginning to highlight the relationship between poor oral health and conditions like inflammation, diabetes and even heart disease.
If you’re a twice-a-day brusher and religious flosser, bravo – you probably have nothing to worry about.
But what if your daily oral hygiene practice also included swishing around oil in your mouth?
And what if that practice could whiten your teeth, detoxify your body and even prevent cavities?
Grease Your Teeth
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that essentially involves swishing around oil in the mouth. Similar to a mouthwash, the oil “pulls” bacteria and toxins out of the mouth and, over time, can leave your teeth whiter and your gums healthier. And while oil pulling may seem a little “woo woo” at first, many studies have proven that the practice can be extremely beneficial to oral health and hygiene.
Here are some of the ways it works:
1. Removes plaque.
Oil pulling can reduce the bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) responsible for tooth decay and dental cavities. One study on adolescents showed that oil pulling delivered comparable results to using mouthwash when it came to reducing bacteria count in plaque and saliva.
In the same way that your teeth look brighter and shinier when you leave the dentist, oil pulling can also whiten your teeth. You probably can’t expect to blind people with your smile, but some individuals do report noticeable whitening results. Swishing of the oil triggers an emulsification process, which has been shown to help enhance the oil’s “scrubbing” capabilities. This mechanical cleansing action helps to remove stains from the teeth.
3. Cures bad breath.
With the removal of bacteria, oil pulling can also remedy bad breath, or halitosis. One study found that after just 14 days, oil pulling was just as effective as mouthwash at curing halitosis.
4. Removes toxins.
Research has shown that root canals, mercury fillings and other dental work can often leave behind toxic agents that are then released into the bloodstream. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of oils like coconut and sesame can effectively remove toxins from the mouth that might cause infection, inflammation or disease.
How to Oil Pull
While oil pulling can be a bit time-consuming, the process is fairly simple. Follow these steps – and make sure to use organic oil.
If you can’t handle a tablespoon, use a little more than a teaspoon and work your way up to more. If you’re using coconut oil, warm the oil in your mouth until it liquefies.
2. Swish, swish, swish.
Swish the oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Make sure it covers all areas of your teeth and gums, but don’t let it touch the back of your throat, and no gargling!
3. Spit out the oil – in a trash can.
After you’re done, spit the oil into a trash can. (Beware: oil can clog drains!)
4. Rinse your mouth.
Clean your mouth with some warm water and brush your teeth as normal.
To experience optimal health benefits, try to oil pull at least a few times a week, if not every day.
While we know that oil pulling is not a cure-all, those who swear by the practice claim it has helped to remedy everything from acne and arthritis to headaches and hormonal imbalances. That’s called anecdotal evidence. Remember that oil pulling doesn’t replace professional dental care; it will merely help your dentist take better care of you.
If you think you can’t stomach swirling grease in your mouth (it’s really not that bad!), I highly recommend you at least give it a shot. Even if you only get cleaner teeth and a lower dentist bill, that’s reason enough to toss your mouthwash for a little oil, isn’t it? Read more in my new New York Times bestselling book, The Hormone Reset Diet.