Perhaps you’ve heard of oil pulling, a home remedy for oral health with origins in Ayurvedic medicine. It may be trendy, but there may be some merit in the practice. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a general dentist in Polk City, IA, offers some interesting insights into oil pulling and its effects on the health of your teeth and gums.
Oil Pulling? Huh?
For the uninitiated, oil pulling involves drawing toxins and harmful microorganisms from the mouth. Of the millions of microorganisms residing within your mouth, most have only a single cell. Each cell has a fatty membrane that serves as its skin. An interesting property of oils, including fats, is the natural tendency to combine. When you introduce oil to your mouth—most people use coconut, sunflower, or sesame oil—these microorganisms are drawn to it. By “pulling” the oil through your mouth for about 20 minutes, you saturate it with these bacteria and toxins. You spit the oil out, having drawn out these unpleasant organisms and substances.
What Are the Benefits of Oil Pulling?
As you work the oil through your mouth, you remove unpleasant substances from between teeth, within crevices, and just beneath the gum line. Proponents state that pulling can address problems such as bad breath, mild gingivitis, and tooth decay. It could also improve the appearance of your smile by having a whitening effect on your teeth. There are certain limitations, however. For example, oil pulling cannot effectively treat advanced periodontal disease. If you have periodontitis, Dr. Hussong recommends professional cleaning and possibly antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection.
How Do I Do It?
Three basic rules apply to oil pulling:
- Never swallow the oil after you’ve pulled. Spit it out, then rinse with water. The object is to remove the harmful substances, not reintroduce them into your body.
- Avoid disposing of the oil by spitting it into the sink or toilet, especially if you pull frequently. The oil could congeal, causing your pipes to become clogged. Not exactly what your plumber wants to hear.
- After you’ve spit out the oil, rinse your mouth with water before you drink anything. Any leftover oil will most likely affect the taste of whatever you consume. Again, you don’t want to swallow the harmful substances trapped in the oil.
If you choose to try this holistic method, you will not likely reap the full benefits after only a single session. Even if you notice improvements, understand that oil pulling is not a substitute for brushing, flossing, and going to your dentist for twice-yearly appointments.
Questions about caring for your teeth and gums? To learn more about the science behind popular alternative health practices, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Alleman, Ankeny, Ames, Grimes, Polk City, and the surrounding cities.