The bacteria in the mouth create a “biofilm” on the teeth – a thin layer that they use to adhere to the surface. This is what we know as “plaque.”
With more than 500 individual species of bacteria in our mouths, it’s safe to say biofilms may pose a problem if we let them. Brushing your teeth removes dental plaque, a type of biofilm on teeth, yet removing it from hard-to-reach areas near our gum lines is often left to our dentist. If left on our teeth, dental plaque can lead to cavities and periodontitis/gingivitis – the medical term for gum infection.
Gingivitis is caused by inflammation of the gums and happens when the immune system starts attacking the bacteria in the plaque. Oil pulling absorbs these nasty bacteria, breaking down the biofilm. A small study in 2008 concluded Oil pulling can be used as an effective preventive adjunct in maintaining and improving oral health. (1) Oil pulling also pulls congestion and mucus from your throat and loosens up your sinuses; I have patients that swear by oil pulling for their sinus, headache and hay fever issues.
Oil pulling has its roots in Ayurveda, Traditional Indian Medicine, which in a similar fashion to Chinese medicine, asserts that the tongue is mapped by organ-locations. This means that each section of the tongue is connected to, or corresponds to, the liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen, pancreas, small intestines, stomach, colon, and spine. When you swish the oil around the tongue, you effectively soothe and stimulate the key meridians of the body, and their corresponding organs. This is the premise for all of the health benefits assigned to oil pulling by Dr. F. Karach. a Ukrainian doctor, Dr. F. Karach, who reportedly cured his own chronic blood disease and 15-year-old arthritis through oil pulling, making oil pulling “trendy” Deepak Chopra also states in his book Perfect Health, that oil pulling is “valuable for purifying and strengthening the body.”
Traditionally, the Indians used other oils such as sesame oil or sunflower oil. I see quite a few patients with stubborn oral thrush and inflammation so I prefer coconut oil because its high Lauric Acid content is proven to kill bacteria, Parasites, Candida and viruses (2) (3)
So how do I do it?
1. Put about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth. (if using coconut oil you will need to let it melt)
2. Swish the oil around your mouth for about 10-20 minutes.
3. Spit out the oil, and then brush your teeth.
4. Never ever swallow it, remember the oil now contains lots of nasty microbes!
5. If using coconut oil be cautious of where you spit it out, it may harden in the drain, toilet is best.
Most people find the oil strange and even unpleasant at first but get used to it quickly. All my patients that have tried it have had great results.
(1)(Asokan S, Rathan J, Muthu M S, Rathna PV, Emmadi P, R, C. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2008;26:12-7)
(2) (D.O. Ogbolu, A.A. Oni, O.A. Daini, and A.P. Oloko. Journal of Medicinal Food. June 2007, 10(2): 384-387. doi:10.1089/jmf.2006.1209.)
(3) Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention
Manisha DebMandal, Shyamapada Mandal
Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. Mar 2011, Vol. 4, No. 3: 241-247