At first read, the term “oil pulling” raises more questions than answers, but it’s actually very simple. Oil pulling refers to swishing a tablespoon of oil around your mouth, like mouthwash, for 15 to 20 minutes. The most common oil used is coconut oil, because of its pleasant taste, but any oil can work. The term describes the way you “pull” the oil between your teeth so that it can reach bacteria and other harmful substances that get caught there.
Although a new trend in the western world, oil pulling is an ancient practice that has existed in India for centuries. It is said to freshen your breath, whiten your teeth, and improve your overall oral health in a number of other ways.
But, does it really work? Studies suggest there is some credibility to the claims.
Coconut oil reduces harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Harmful oral bacteria, usually the strain Streptococcus Mutans, form a thin film around your teeth known as plaque. When plaque buildup becomes too much for your teeth and gums to handle, more serious conditions arise. These conditions include bad breath, gum inflammation, cavities, and even tooth decay.
Studies show that pulling coconut oil between your teeth for at least 10 minutes daily can significantly reduce plaque-causing bacteria in your saliva. According to one study, coconut oil pulling proved just as effective as a mouthwash in reducing harmful bacteria in the saliva.
Coconut oil helps freshen breath.
The same bacteria responsible for plaque build-up also are a cause of bad breath. Bad breath due to an overgrowth of bacteria occurs because the bacteria interact with the flesh in your mouth and releases odorous waste as it multiplies. Because coconut oil reduces the amount of this type of bacteria in your mouth, it can cure bad breath.
Be aware that there is more than one cause of bad breath, and it could be a sign of certain medical ailments such as kidney failure, infection, diabetes, etc. If your bad breath persists, consult with your physician.
Oil pulling with coconut oil can reduce inflammation in the gums.
Red, swollen gums are almost always an early sign of gingivitis, a common type of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious condition, as it can lead to bad breath, sensitive gums, and tooth decay. Fortunately, with the right oral care, it is possible to reduce gum inflammation and ease the symptoms of gingivitis.
Not only does coconut oil reduce harmful bacteria that can lead to irritated gums, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties. With these two characteristics in mind, pulling coconut oil can help ease your symptoms of gingivitis before they get out of hand.
If you don’t have time to swish around coconut oil for 15 minutes every day, try the Alka-White™ 5-Day Oral Cleanse which is made with coconut oil, baking soda, xylitol, and other natural ingredients. You will reap the benefits of oil pulling–and more for healthier gums, better breath and a more confident smile.