Coconut oil has been around for a long time. A lot of health conscious people swear by it for many different reasons including; cleanses, weight loss, acne, and gum health. With all the claims that coconut oil can do, it would be nice to know the truth behind it. I don’t think I can state for fact that coconut oil has any magical properties; but I will say that it is an excellent and healthy oil, and more than likely will help you improve your oral health.
While there are some who swear by the benefits of oil pulling, many have only heard of it from the news. To find any proof that oil pulling actually works, you have to look elsewhere, outside traditional medical literature. And this is where the oil pulling movements actually get back to basics. Most of the oil pulling campaigns are based on Ayurvedic medicines, a traditional Indian system of medicine.
The extracted oil would be a safe and effective alternative to conventional toothpastes and mouthwashes. But there is currently little evidence to support its use in oral care.
If you care about your health, you probably read labels. They check that your food does not contain any artificial ingredients, chemicals or toxins.
You may even be concerned about air and water quality. Your household cleaners. Also cosmetic products.
You want to know what’s in the products you eat, drink, breathe and apply to your body. They want to minimize exposure to artificial ingredients and untested chemicals.
Such as toothpaste and mouthwash
Let’s take the example of your toothpaste and mouthwash. Read the ingredients on the tube, bottle or packaging.
You will see ingredients such as :
- Polysorbate 80
- FD&C yellow 5
- Sodium benzoate
- FD&C blue 1
- Benzoic acid
- Cetylpyridinium chloride
- Sodium saccharin
- Domiphenous bromide
And you put that shit in your mouth.
You would probably not tolerate these chemicals in your diet. But you still put them in your mouth.
Many of these chemicals do not even work as advertised.
Rinsing your mouth kills bacteria and freshens your breath. However, mouthwashes containing alcohol can dry out the mouth and neutralize the protective team of the mucous membrane.
This means that the more you use the mouthwash, the more you become dependent on it. Their natural mouth environment can’t do its job. You end up with more bacteria and more breathing difficulties.
And while the ingredients in toothpaste are seemingly more harmless, some varieties contain neutrals at best. And in the worst cases, they are downright harmful.
Some ingredients you should avoid are:
- FD&C dyes; and
Do you want to know the status of your products? Familiarise yourself with the EWG Skin Deep database. You can search for the brands you use and check their safety ratings.
As health-conscious consumers (or as people who work in the industry), we are all trying to remove harmful chemicals from the environment. We are all trying to make better choices about what we eat, drink, put on our bodies and keep in our homes.
Therefore, we believe that oil extraction has seen a huge resurgence in popularity. Well, and the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow mentioned it.
So what is oil production?
Although similar to labor-intensive work in resource extraction (such as crushing grapes or raising livestock), oil extraction is a fairly simple activity. That means you spill the oil in your mouth.
In the morning, before eating or brushing your teeth:
- Take about a tablespoon of vegetable oil (e.g. olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil or sunflower oil).
- Put it in your mouth without swallowing it.
- Steam it for 10-15 minutes while doing something else in the bath.
- After 10-15 minutes, spit it out.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water.
- Floss, brush your teeth and get on with your day.
Although oil extraction has become very popular recently, the procedure has been around for a very long time. For example, for mouthwash, floss and toothpaste.
In the 2000-year-old Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita, extracting oil is even described as a way to improve oral hygiene and prevent bad breath.
(Usually sesame or sunflower oil was used).
It is of course not because something existed long ago and was mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic texts, that it is automatically a good idea (see: vein).
Let’s see what modern science has to say about this.
How does oil production work?
In theory, oil extraction can help reduce plaque and gingivitis.
When the fat from the oil comes into contact with certain compounds in the mouth, it forms soap. Soap emulsifies and forms surfactants that can clean the mouth and remove harmful microorganisms.
The oils also contain lignans, which have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
However, the study is not entirely conclusive. Most studies on oil recovery are small, short or incomplete.
But this doesn’t mean it’s useless. It just means the science isn’t there yet.
What does the research say?
Bad breath (halitosis)
About 85% of bad breath comes from the mouth.
(The rest comes from the gastrointestinal tract and may indicate health problems, such as changes in the gastrointestinal microflora.)
Common factors that exacerbate the situation are gum, tooth and tongue disease, as well as chronic diseases such as diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases and liver disease.
Studies show that oil extraction is just as effective against bad breath as a common ingredient in over-the-counter mouthwashes.
Reduction of plaque and gingivitis
Gingivitis is caused by inflammation of the gums.
This usually happens when your immune system starts attacking the bacteria in the plaque.
A study has shown that oil extraction is just as effective in treating plaque-induced gingivitis as a common ingredient in over-the-counter mouthwashes.
Although many people claim that oil extraction makes teeth whiter, no studies have been published on the subject. This is just an anecdotal case.
With this in mind, it may be worth trying if you want whiter teeth.
Bleaching is more likely to damage the nerves of the teeth and gums.
Prevention of heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease
Poor oral health is associated with other chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
It is interesting to note that dentists often detect type 2 diabetes in their patients earlier than doctors do.
However, there is no evidence that oil extraction is beneficial for any of these conditions.
A Toronto dentist conducted an informal experiment with 12 of his patients and found that oil extraction had beneficial effects for people suffering from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that damages the salivary glands and causes dry mouth.
Imagine what a turtleneck would look like. Now imagine that your gums are a turtleneck for your teeth. This rubber turtleneck forms a barrier against micro-organisms.
When tooth decay and plaque build up along the gum line, microorganisms penetrate deeper, causing the gums to recede from the teeth.
Gum recession means that the gum line has disappeared and bacteria can reach the part of the tooth that no longer has protective enamel. People who wear braces may also suffer from receding gums.
There are no data yet on the effect of oil extraction on gum thinning.
Ellie Phillips, DDS, often speaks positively about oil extraction. However, she cautions against oil extraction for people with recalcitrant or sensitive gums because it can damage the biofilm and film proteins, which are very important for oral health.
If you use oil extraction to treat receding gums, do so only occasionally.
Elimination and removal of toxins from blood/body
Some people believe that oil extraction removes impurities from the mouth and blood.
Although it seems to have a slight surfactant effect, the oral mucosa does not seem to allow it in the oral cavity.
Therefore, an oil in the mouth does not come in contact with the blood and does not extract anything from it.
Are there any hazards?
The extraction of the oil is generally quite safe.
But there are some minor quibbles:
You should rinse your mouth for at least 10 minutes. Therefore, there is a very small risk of accidentally inhaling oil and contracting lipid pneumonia (i.e., an accumulation of fluid in the lungs that leads to water retention and possible infection).
You’ll probably spit this stuff out through your pipes. Before you throw oil down the drain, think about the expensive plumbing bill due to accumulated oil.
Instead, try coughing into the trash or spitting into a cup of water and dish soap to emulsify the oil before tossing it down the drain.
Place oil on mouth
As always, we could not content ourselves with anecdotal evidence without trying it out for ourselves.
Oil extraction experiment by Dr Berardi
Last year, a family member underwent a rather unpleasant oral surgery. I learned a lot about oral health by participating in the research on this procedure.
Since my family (i.e. parents, grandparents, etc.) has pretty poor dental health, I decided to optimize my own oral health system.
My goals were:
- It is best to brush your teeth and mouth regularly;
- Reduce the stress on gums caused by hard brushing and chemicals;
- Reduce the number of potentially harmful ingredients in my oral care products.
- improve the overall maintenance of your mouth.
And of course, to stay fresh as a daisy.
I did some research, consulted several excellent dentists and came up with a plan.
First the basics… I started using a Sonicare toothbrush, a toothpaste with a good EWG Skin Deep database and flossing twice a day. Consistently.
I then replaced the alcohol mouthwash with olive oil.
This is currently my morning routine, including oil extraction.
- When you wake up, brush and floss your teeth immediately.
- Pour in the olive oil.
- I mop the floor for about 10 minutes while doing other things in the bathroom, getting dressed, making the bed, etc.
- I rinsed out the hot water in the sink and spit out the oil.
- Then I rinse off with warm water and get on with my day, oiled up and ready for action.
While I haven’t noticed a dramatic change in my overall health, I think my breathing has improved overall. But I do other things (I floss more, use a different toothpaste, etc.) So I can’t say it’s due to oil extraction.
I wasn’t expecting a radical change anyway. Instead, I wanted to improve my oral care in general. And remove a lot of added/necessary chemicals from my morning ritual.
So, mission accomplished!
What to do
Whether or not you try oil extraction, you need to rethink your oral care practices. Remember…
Do the basic exercises again and again. There is no point in not brushing your teeth properly or flossing regularly. To remember this, sing along to Raffi’s Brush Your Teeth.
Eat to keep your teeth healthy. Here are some recommendations.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a good toothbrush. Take plenty of time for this. Don’t let your finger slide across the screen and walk away. Brush your teeth thoroughly. Use this moment as a wake-up call.
Use a toothpaste with simple ingredients and as few chemical additives as possible. To find out more about the different brands, click here.
Floss at least once, preferably twice a day.
Recommendations for oil extraction
If you want to add something else, you can try oil extraction and see if that makes a difference.
Consider a before and after test at your dentist. Before you begin oil extraction, have your teeth checked and ask your dentist to take detailed notes on your overall oral health. (Oh yeah, you might actually want to go to your dentist. He probably misses you.) So experiment. Schedule a follow-up appointment with the dentist in a few months to see if he or she sees any differences.
Make sure the tick oil is right for you. If you have sensitive teeth or receding gums, it is best to perform an oil extraction, not daily, but only occasionally. Again, consult your dentist to learn more about your oral health.
Experiment with the type of oil. Coconut oil in particular may have antimicrobial properties.
Try adding other essential oils to the mix. Many essential oils – such as. B. Peppermint, thyme, lavender, tea tree, oregano, or basil oils – are bactericidal (i.e., they kill pathogenic bacteria) or bacteriostatic (i.e., they prevent bacteria from attaching or colonizing) and have been tested as effective in oral care products.
You will learn the best nutrition, exercise and lifestyle strategies – unique and individual – for you.
Click here to see the sources of information referenced in this article.
Artemis N. Holistic dental care. 2013. North Atlantic Books.
Asokan S. Oil pulling treatment. Indian J Dent Res 2008;19:169.
Asokan S, et al. Effect of oil extraction on halitosis and halitosis-causing microorganisms: a randomized controlled pilot study. 2011;29:90-94.
Asokan S, et al. The mechanism of oil aspiration therapy is studied in vitro. Indian J Dent Res 2011;22:34-37.
Asokan S, et al. Effect of oil extraction on plaque-induced gingivitis: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Indian J Dent Res 2009;20:47-51.
Asokan S, et al. Effect of oil extraction on the amount of Streptococcus mutans in dental plaque and saliva using the Dentocult SM Strip mutans assay: a randomized, controlled, three-blind study. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2008;26:12-17.
Bulger J. Dental hygiene: Can a mouthwash have the opposite effect on you?
Edris, Amr E. Pharmaceutical and therapeutic potential of essential oils and their individual volatile components: a review. Phytother Res. 2007 Apr;21(4):308-23.
EWG Skin Deep resource list
Head A. Should you try oil extraction? 23. April 2014.
Kim JY, et al. Recurrent lipoid pneumonia associated with oil pulling. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis 2014;18:251-252.
Martinko K. Is oil extraction really effective? Treehugger 22. April 2014.
Novella S. Oil pulling your leg. Science-based medicine. 12. March 2014.
Phillips E. Oil Pulling – what the science says. 27. March 2014.
Phillips E. Say hello to your dentist. 2010. Greenleaf Book Group Press.
Singh A and Purohit B. Cleaning of teeth, oil extraction and tissue regeneration: An overview of holistic approaches to oral health. Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine 2011;2:64-68.
Spear B. The madness of oil exploration: What are the real benefits of dentistry? IQ Dentistry.
Takarada K. et al. Comparison of the antibacterial activity of essential oils against oral pathogens. Oral Microbiology and Immunology 19 No. 1 (February 2004) : 61-64.
Because A. Is oil extraction a real cure? A library of questions and answers. 2008.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is oil pulling better than mouthwash?
Oil pulling is a practice that involves swishing oil in the mouth for 10-15 minutes. It is believed to be an effective way to remove toxins from the body and improve oral health. Mouthwash, on the other hand, is a liquid solution that contains alcohol or other chemicals that are used to kill bacteria and reduce plaque buildup.
Does oil pulling actually work?
Oil pulling is a practice that has been used for centuries to cleanse the mouth and teeth. It is believed to help remove toxins from the body, improve oral health, and reduce inflammation. The practice involves swishing oil in the mouth for 10-20 minutes before spitting it out. Oil pulling is not a scientifically proven method of improving oral health.
Why Oil pulling is dangerous?
Oil pulling is dangerous because it can cause a number of health problems. It can lead to oral and dental infections, gum disease, tooth decay, and even cancer. Oil pulling is dangerous because it can cause a number of health problems.
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