Oil pulling, the Ayurvedic remedy that just became the latest Internet health craze, is sweeping the blogosphere this week, but as with any web wellness fad it’s important to separate fact from fiction.
While there are some bizarre myths out there regarding the benefits of oil pulling (it won’t actually “leech toxins” from the body– sorry!) there’s also evidence that it contributes to overall mouth health as part of a good oral care regimen.
Coconut oil has value as both a nutrient and a topical moisturizer. It belongs to the class of oils known as carrier oils, which means they easily soak into our skin to soothe and moisturize it rather than just sitting on the surface. It has an indefinite shelf life and medium melting point that keeps it in a soft solid form at room temperature.
The actual practice of oil pulling couldn’t be simpler– the standard method is to take a tablespoon of coconut oil and let it melt under your tongue, then swish it around like a mouthwash for about 20 minutes while you do other morning activities. Many practitioners like to take their oil just before getting in the shower, since that’s just about the right amount of time and if you happen to drool a little in the process (hey, nobody’s perfect!) it’s a non-issue.
The basic principle at work isn’t as mystical or complicated as some would have us believe. Essentially, moisturizing the epidermis and other tissues with quality plant-derived oils like coconut oil is a healthful practice. It removes sebum from the parts of the skin that have oil glands, prevents and heals stretch marks, maintains skin elasticity and vitality, and reduces friction which lowers the risk of injury and subsequent infection to promote overall health. Oil pulling’s greatest benefit is the nourishing and moisturizing effect it has on the gums.
Gum tissue is extremely sensitive and susceptible to injury and infection, yet your teeth and overall oral health depend almost entirely on the health of your gums. Research has even shown links between gum disease and heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke. Oil pulling, as part of a routine including brushing and flossing, is an excellent way to show your gums some extra love.
Additionally, oil pulling is a good alternative for individuals suffering from dry mouth as a chronic condition or side effect from medications. Low saliva production is disastrous for mouth health, and commercial mouthwashes containing alcohol are a temporary fix and at worst compound the problem. Claims of coconut oil killing mouth bacteria are inaccurate, but using oil pulling to compensate for low saliva production does help your mouth maintain its natural defenses.
The good news about the “toxin” myth is that you don’t actually end up with a mouthful of poison to get rid of when you’re done rinsing, so the reality is less wasteful and significantly less terrifying. Coconut oil is a healthy fat that supports skin, hair, and nail health and replenishment, so go ahead and gulp it down for even greater benefits to your total well-being!
Practices like oil pulling, along with proper brushing and flossing and a healthy diet, are a great way to maintain the health of your teeth and gums, but that’s only part of the equation. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential, with the average recommended visit to you dentist’s office taking place every six months. If you’re due for your checkup and cleaning, contact Infinite Dental Wellness today and make an appointment at our state-of-the-art green dental practice in Glendale, CA!