Researchers estimate that there are between 100 million and one billion bacteria on each of your teeth at any given time, prior to cleansing or other teeth cleaning practices. Much of this bacteria is natural and harmless, but some bacteria can lead to major dental problems.
Strep mutans, for instance, is the primary bacteria behind tooth decay, and excessive bacteria can also cause bad breath.
So how can you prevent bacteria from thriving in your mouth? It might not be a bad idea to consider oil pulling.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is the practice of working oil through your mouth by pulling, pushing, and sucking it around your teeth. Oil pulling is easy to perform on your own. All you have to do is put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth and gently swish it around for 15-20 minutes, then spit the oil into the trash.
The oil works its way between your teeth and across your gums, picking up microbes like a magnet and holding them firmly until you spit them out with the solution.
Sesame oil and cornflower seed oil can both be used for oil pulling, but the most common choice is coconut oil. This is because 50% of the fat in coconut oil is made of a bacteria-eliminating ingredient called lauric acid, which can also inhibit the growth of strep mutans.
Is Oil Pulling a New Trend?
Hardly. The practice of oil pulling is nearly 2,500 years old and has its roots in Ayurvedic, or ancient Indian, medicine. In recent years, there’s been an increase in literature that affirms oil pulling. In fact, in one recent study of adolescent patients, oil pulling proved just as effective at eliminating bad breath as chlorhexidine mouthwash and removed all bacterial markers of the condition.
What do Dentists Say?
Oil pulling is never a replacement for regular dental visits and traditional oral hygiene practices. However, it can make a great supplemental therapy for patients who want a simple and natural way to reduce bacteria in their mouths. Talk to your dentist if you’re considering starting an oil pulling regimen to find out how to go about it safely and effectively.