Does Oil Pulling Actually Work?

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Oil pulling is where you swish oil around in your mouth to improve oral hygiene. The practice has been around for thousands of years and originally comes from Ayurveda, an ancient form of medicine in India. 


For westerners, the idea of oil pulling seems a little strange. Conventional wisdom suggests that we keep our mouths healthy by cleaning our teeth and flossing regularly. However, oil pulling is coming into its own. As with many other ancient practices, we’re discovering that there’s real science behind it and that, to the surprise of many, it probably works. 


It’s Easy To Add To Your Routine


Adding oil pulling to your routine is much simpler than you think. In fact, you probably have all the ingredients that you need already, lying around in your kitchen. 


In the past, people used sesame oil for oil pulling. However, you don’t necessarily need to use that kind of oil. In fact, it seems like any will do. 


Coconut oil may be one of the most beneficial for oil pulling. It contains special antibacterial factors for fighting the bugs that you don’t want in your mouth, plus a host of antiinflammatory agents for gum disease. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you’ll need to heat it slightly before you use it. 


It Improves Gum Health


There’s also some evidence that oil pulling improves gum health, particularly in people whose gums bleed easily. It can reduce inflammation and kill harmful bacteria that cause disease. 


Participants in studies investigating oil pulling for gum health saw a marked reduction in the disease-causing bacteria in their mouths after around 30 days. They also had less plaque compared to controls, suggesting that oil pulling can prevent the formation of sticky layers on top of teeth.


It Can Prevent Cavities


Eating too much sugar and poor oral hygiene are both associated with increased cavity incidence. Over time, bacteria feed on sugar, produce acid and rot the teeth. 


However, multiple studies now show that oil pulling helps to reduce the number of bacteria present in the mouth, reducing tooth decay. In many cases, oil pulling is shown to be as effective as conventional mouthwash. 


But why is this so? It comes down to the fact that oil pulling is a good way to rebalance the mouth’s microbiome. It’s not that you want to totally eliminate all of the bacteria in your mouth – that’s not helpful. Instead, it’s that you want to selectively rebalance it to promote health. And that’s what oil pulling appears to do. 


What Can’t Oil Pulling Solve?


Of course, oil pulling can’t solve everything. For instance, if you have crooked teeth, you’ll need orthodontic treatment. Simply swishing some oil around in your mouth won’t make much of a difference. 


Similarly, oil pulling can’t completely offset a poor diet. If you are eating a lot of refined sugar or flours, you’ll put yourself at higher risk of tooth decay. 


Lastly, oil pulling isn’t a replacement for regular fluoride toothpaste. However, it is something that you can use regularly. 


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