Most of us want that extra fresh and clean feel after we’ve cleaned our teeth, and a guarantee not only that all the plaque is fully removed but also the garlic and onion odor from last night’s supper! Mouthwash is still a popular way of achieving it.
But dentists and dental hygienists are now recommending that mouthwash be used in moderation. When you consider that most shop bought mouthwashes contain a cocktail of toxic chemicals, it isn’t at all surprising.
After all, those neon blues and greens don’t look too natural, do they? Alcohol, fluoride, saccharine, Sodium lauryl sulfate, and hydrogen peroxide, not to mention harsh chemical preservatives and dyes, are just some of the unpleasant ingredients you are likely to find in your average mouthwash.
This potent liquid may well protect your mouth from bacteria and bad breath but you may also be putting your health at risk with its regular use.
A Holistic Alternative
Oil-pulling is the trending oral health craze right now, with the endorsement of a growing number of celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and actress Shailene Woodley. This natural alternative to mouthwash will provide you with that squeaky clean feel without the toxins. It is claimed it will rid your mouth of plaque and strengthen teeth and gums, as well as offering a whole heap of other health giving benefits. But, despite its current appeal, oil pulling is not a new health approach, it originates in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine, and has been around for eons.
How does it Work?
Oil pulling or oil swishing involves rinsing your mouth for between ten and twenty minutes, at least three times a week, with up to a tablespoon of edible oil, such as coconut, sesame or sunflower oil. The oil is supposed to draw the toxins and bacteria from your mouth and teeth, and because these food deposits are said to be oil and not water soluble, this technique is more effective than rinsing the mouth with water. The toxins are literally ‘pulled’ from the surface of the teeth and gums by the action of swilling the liquid around the mouth. The oil solidifies after use, and should be spat out into your garbage. But be careful not to swallow the oil, you want to avoid those toxins and bits of old food into your digestive system.
Other Possible Benefits?
Aesthetic: Many people have noticed that their teeth become whiter after oil pulling. The removal of toxins from the teeth by swishing may also remove stains. But the anti-bacterial agents in the oils can improve gum health and reduce gum disease which will make the gums looks pinker and healthier – possibly giving the teeth a seemingly whiter appearance. The process of swishing for ten or twenty minutes may make your jaw ache a little at first, but is also said to benefit the muscles of the jaw and face, giving your face a little work-out, which may help to tone and lift.
Plaque removal and protection: As well as removing plaque from the teeth, it’s thought the oil provides a surface layer that prevents plaque or bacteria adhering to teeth.
Freshens breath: People have noted that oil pulling ‘sweetens’ the breath, and mixed with Tea Tree oil can help to reduce gingivitis.
Holistic: because the oils used are anti-bacterial as well as antiviral and anti-inflammatory their use can strengthen gums and teeth and work as a detox for the sinuses. In Ayurvedic medicine oils are used regularly and the physical symptoms of complaints such as asthma, eczema and arthritis, it is claimed, can be alleviated. Fans of oil pulling swear by its powers to help with a whole host of other common problems such as allergies, hormone imbalances, sleep issues and migraines.
But does it Really work?
The internet is saturated with anecdotal evidence from pretty credible sources on the positive effects of oil pulling. Lab studies prove that edible oils such as sesame, coconut and sunflower oil have active antibacterial properties, but as yet there is no hard evidence to back up the long list of holistic benefits associated with oil pulling.
However, a study published in Pubmed suggests that oil pulling does reduce the oral bacteria that causes tooth decay: “Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health.”
In an article Asif Chatoo, a London based orthodontic specialist and founder of the London Lingual Orthodontic Clinic, suggest that oil pulling can safely be used as part of a good oral hygiene regime:
Some edible oils such as coconut oil has several proven benefits. They contain lots of easily digestible, fat-soluble vitamins: A,D,E and K. If my patients ask me about oil-pulling, I won’t discourage them but I will emphasise that oil pulling cannot and should not be a substitute for a good brushing and flossing regime or regular visits to a dentist and hygienist.
Studies are regularly published which shows links between oral health, gum disease and heart disease. Any habit that improves our oral hygiene and resists the build up of plaque is going to have local and holistic benefits. Oil Pulling is a really great addition to your daily cleaning and flossing routine, and a way to wash your mouth without the toxic substances that many mouthwashes contain.