CHENNAI: For thousands of years, the ancient Indian method of oil pulling has found its place in the dental care routines of several individuals, both young and old. “I started oil pulling around a decade ago when I faced problems pertaining to my oral hygiene. Swollen gums and bad breath were recurring issues. That’s when I came across oil pulling and began doing it on an empty stomach almost every day. Now, that, coupled with regular dental checkups, has helped me maintain my oral hygiene.
Often, people ignore this aspect of their health. But, it should be remembered that it matters a lot as our oral health is often associated with our cardiovascular functions too,” explains 50-year-old Natarajan P, a chartered accountant. The bacterial presence in our mouth creates a thin layer known as plaque. This, in moderation, has no alarming concerns, however, excess plaque formation could potentially lead to various oral problems including gum inflammation, gingivitis, bad breath and cavities.
While the ancient remedy is claimed to whiten your teeth, freshen your breath and improve your oral health, Dr Spoorthi Arun, American Board-certified internal medicine physician, Promed Hospital, shares a few benefits that are supported by evidence and science. “The research on oil pulling is limited and many claims are not supported by science. However, the main advantage of doing this is to reduce the harmful bacteria in the mouth. Reduction of plaque and gingivitis, which is caused by the inflammation of gums, are some of the other benefits of oil pulling,” she shares.
The practice follows a simple procedure. Take a tablespoon of oil and put it in your mouth. Swish gently for 10 to 20 minutes, spit it out and brush your teeth. This method essentially enables the bacteria in the mouth to get swept away and eventually dissolve in the oil. “While people use different kinds of oil to pull, coconut oil has been the most popular choice,” says the medical practitioner. Natarajan, who has been diligently using the extravirgin coconut oil in his oral care routine says that a pleasant taste could be one of the reasons for its popularity. “People’s tastes are different. I experimented with sesame oil when I started oil pulling; however, I preferred coconut oil better.
On research, I found that it has a certain fatty acid profile with antimicrobial properties, which makes it a wonderful choice for oil pulling,” he details. From limited studies that have been conducted around oil pulling, it’s been projected that oil pulling with coconut oil for 15 to 20 minutes a day can significantly reduce streptococcus mutants, one of the main bacteria in the mouth and a key reason for tooth decay. “There is close to no scientific evidence to understand if this remedy helps in treating any other diseases in the body than those harming the mouth. But, the method as a catalyst in enabling dental hygiene has grown in popularity over the years and is perhaps worth trying,” she shares. So what are you waiting for? Swish away!
The oil can be swished gently without a lot of force. If the process causes discomfort or pain of your facial muscles, pause the pulling for a while. Try using lesser quantity of oil the next time.
While research on oil pulling is limited, some practitioners say that it’s best to oil pull on an empty stomach in the mornings.