Oil Pulling: Traditional Medicine Incorporated into Modern Dental Care
Oil pulling is a growing trend on the horizon, yet it is not a new one. Also known as “kavala” or “gundusha”, oil pulling is an ancient dental practice that derives from traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India. Although it has been used widely as a traditional Indian folk remedy for centuries, it is now growing in popularity around the world for its powerful cleansing and healing effect on the mouth, sinuses, and the rest of the body.
Yet, what exactly is oil pulling?
The dental practice involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes and then spitting it out.
Coconut oil, sesame oil, olive oil – the choice is yours. However, most individuals choose to use coconut oil due to its strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Practitioners of oil pulling say that the oil literally draws out toxins in the body, thereby helping to create a clean, antiseptic environment to ensure proper oral hygiene. Although it is not entirely clear how it works, oil pulling is claimed to provide several benefits, including:
- Killing harmful bacteria in the mouth – Harmful bacteria in the mouth can lead to problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. In one particular study involving 60 adults, it was found that oil pulling with coconut oil for 10 minutes every day significantly reduced the number of S. mutans (a common type of bacteria found in the oral cavity) in saliva in less than two weeks, in comparison to that of water.
- Helping to prevent cavities – Cavities are a common occurrence that stems from tooth decay. Tooth decay, in turn, is caused by the accumulation of bacteria, poor oral hygiene, as well as consuming too much sugar. Several studies have found that oil pulling reduces the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth, and in doing so, prevents cavities by building stronger teeth and gums.
- Reducing inflammation and improving gum health – The bacteria found in plaque are a major cause of gingivitis, which is a type of gum disease characterized by red, swollen and bleeding gums. In one study, 60 participants with gingivitis began oil pulling with coconut oil for a period of one month. After just one week, they experienced reduced amounts of plaque and showed an improvement in gum health.
The exciting aspect of this healing method is its simplicity
Perhaps the greatest benefits of oil pulling are how simple it is to do and how easily it can be incorporated into your everyday routine. All you need to do is measure one tablespoon of oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Yet, you should bear in mind not to swallow the oil and not to skip flossing and brushing. Oil pulling should never be used as a substitute for regular dental visits and traditional at-home oral care.
For best results, it is recommended to repeat the aforementioned steps a couple of times per week or up to 3x daily.
A heightened confidence in ancient practices
Scientific validation and research are fairly limited when it comes to the practice of oil pulling. Most sources do agree that it is safe, yet debate how effective it actually is.
While it should not be used in place of modern oral hygiene methods, oil pulling does offer promising positive results. It is claimed to be able to cure about 30 systemic diseases ranging from headache and migraine to diabetes, asthma, chronic fatigue, and skin issues.
Used as a supplementary treatment, oil pulling is considered to be a safe and natural remedy that extends far beyond improving oral health.
Bonus: Watch this video from Dr. Ware, describing oil pulling in more detail.
- "I Tried Oil Pulling for (almost) a Week: Here's What Happened" via Fashionista
- "Should You Try Oil Pulling?" via WebMD
- "Coconut Oil Pulling Benefits and How-to Guide" via Dr. Axe
- "Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health"
- "6 Benefits of Oil Pulling — Plus How to Do It" via Healthline