Dental disease has a detrimental effect on the functionality and quality of life, both to the oral environment and to systemic health. Oil pulling is a traditional way of cleansing the oral cavity and to maintain its hygiene. In this modern world, we often tend to forget ancient medicines; however oil pulling has many beneficial effects on the mouth and other internal structures and here I would like to take up this opportunity to highlight some of its valuable effects.
Oil pulling is something similar to mouthwash but with more natural elements. In fact, the side effects like burning sensation and staining of teeth that are reported with the mouthwash usage are not seen with oil pulling, and above all, it acts as a solution for those complaints.
Here you will use any cold-pressed oil, and notably, sesame oil, coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil are more advantageous. You can choose the oil of your choice but care should be taken if you have an allergy to any particular oil. If so, replace it with the other. It’s always better to use physically milled cold-pressed oil rather than refined one, as the later will have more of trans-fats in it which could not provide effective values as like the former.
How to do oil pulling?
Well, if you follow the proper procedural format of oil pulling, the outcome will be outstanding. It is better to do at empty stomach in the morning with 1 tablespoon ( appx 10 ml ) of cold-pressed oil, sip and swish between the teeth for 15-20 mins, at which the oil becomes lose and less viscous and turns to milky white colour. This is where you have to spat out. Make sure not to swallow as it has a high concentration of pathogens and toxic substance.
Better to do with sitting posture with chin lifted; however, any other position is still acceptable. Even though it has no side effects, oil pulling is not recommended under the age of 5. Because children tend to swallow the content. When properly used, oil pulling is one of the best adjuvants to maintain oral hygiene; however, it has to be followed by regular brushing and flossing and should not consider as the main cleansing agent.
Mechanism of action :
The exact mechanism of oil pulling is still unclear; however, three most speculated theories are as follows,
- The alkali hydrolysis present in the saliva is more likely to cause emulsification (soap formation) of the fat present in the oil, thereby increasing the surface area of the fat and improves the cleansing action.
- Viscous nature of oil inhibits plaque accumulation and adhesion of bacteria.
- Oil has antioxidant property causing detoxification by preventing lipid peroxidation and reducing free radicals, thereby giving antibiotic-like effect. As an antioxidant, it can damage the cell wall of microorganisms and kill them.
Beneficial effects of oil pulling on the oral structure and internal structures :
- Due to its anti-microbial activity, it protects the tooth from caries formation.
- It effectively reduces plaque-induced gum inflammation, gum bleeding and periodontitis. As it could prevent adhesion of plaque and could cause its disintegration. To know more about systemic diseases associated with gum disease, click the link Systemic diseases associated with gum disease
- Halitosis or bad malodor are better controlled on long term use of this method. To know more about halitosis and its systemic connections, click the link 9 types of bad breath that actually hints systemic illness
- Oral thrush is a fungal infection which commonly affects oral cavity during immune suppression, poor oral hygiene, chemotherapy or long term antibiotic intake. Oil pulling helps to pulls toxins and other pathogens during this swish, thereby mechanically removes the pathogen. Moreover, the oil itself has an antifungal property which kills yeast in the oral cavity.
- Continuous practise of oil pulling will prevent dry mouth and chapped lips. To know more about dry mouth, clink the link Dry mouth – cause and effect
- effective oil pulling will activate and strengthen the facial muscles, especially masticatory muscles.
- Loss of taste sensation due to chronic medication, or any systemic illness like anaemia, vitamin deficiency etc, are more likely to regain the taste perception after regular oil pulling for a few months.
- Other than oral structure, but oil pulling has seemed to be an adjuvant treatment for almost 30 different medical conditions. It includes diabetes, eczema, thrombosis, asthma, body detoxification, prevents spreading of cancer to other organs, for chronic skin disease, bronchitis, to improve metabolism, to stimulate the mind and relieve stress, for anorexia etc.
Use it regularly and feel the difference as I do !!!
Despite its medicinal value, one should not forget that oil pulling is only an adjuvant therapy and supportive naturopathy for preventive and precautionary purpose. It should not consider as the main treatment protocol for a disease.
Journal references :
Shanbhag VK1.2016 Jun 6;7(1):106-109, Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review.