When you become a happy health nut you find yourself trying things that in the past would have made you shake your head with total disbelief. For me, the wackiest thing I am now doing is “oil pulling.” Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice for oral health. It involves putting a small amount of oil (typically sesame or coconut) in your mouth and swishing it around for 10 to 15 minutes a day. The practice is thought to “pull” bacteria and other microorganisms out of your mouth. Proponents rave about a wide variety of benefits, ranging from the more believable healthier gums with whiter and stronger teeth, to the less believable claims that it treats almost every kind of human ailment.
Given the buzz about oil pulling and my long-standing lack of confidence in my flossing ability, I decided to give it a try. I chose coconut oil and was surprised by the pleasant, mild taste, as I generally dislike anything that has coconut in it. Although you are supposed to oil pull first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, I didn’t see how that 10 to 15 minutes of not being able to talk was going to work in my household. Instead, I chose to oil pull during my shower, which has proven to work really well. The most important thing to remember about oil pulling is that you must never spit the oil down your drain as the oil will firm up again when cooled and clog your pipes. The other thing to remember is if your jaw is getting tired, you are doing it too hard. Just gently swish the oil around.
Although the scientist in me squirms at the lack of research on the subject, in my own “clinical study of one”, I cannot deny the results. Within days, my gums looked healthier. By the end of the first week, my green tea-stained teeth were noticeably whiter. Most dramatically, a tooth that was causing me such pain that I figured I was looking at a root canal has grown very quiet. If that last one due to the oil pulling I cannot say for sure, but my checkbook is very happy to not have to find the money for significant dental work.
I recently met a dental hygienist who stated that she wanted to do a clinical trial on the subject. She took one look at my mouth and said that she never would have known I was a mouth-breather as my gums no longer had the tell-tale signs. That’s a pretty good endorsement right there.
If you think that oil-pulling is for you, the following article is a good place to start: