Oil pulling is, in general terms, a technique applied to improve oral health , although it was previously applied to detoxify the body. It is based on different oils, which can be used to take advantage of their natural properties.

In the following article we will delve into what oil pulling is, how to do it, what are its benefits and the existing risks. 

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is a mouthwash with oils. It is a technique that comes from India and the most used oil for this type of treatment is coconut oil . This is due to its large number of antibacterial properties and its ability to trap and dispose of fat-soluble toxins attached to the oral cavity.

To highlight: In ancient times, oil pulling was done with sunflower and sesame oil, but its few benefits compared to those of coconut oil caused its use to be reduced until the technique was monopolized.

This technique focuses on the principle that all bacteria have a lipid membrane that, when put in contact with oil , adheres and remains trapped, being dragged and eliminated when expelling the oil from the oral cavity. (1)

How to do oil pulling?

In order for oil pulling to be carried out efficiently, there are a series of steps that must be carried out. They will be mentioned and described below, for the knowledge and use of the technique:

1. Do it when you get up

It is important to do it when you get up in the morning for different reasons. Initially, the amount of accumulated bacteria that can be eliminated when applying the treatment and to take advantage of the subsequent washing of the teeth with brushing, thus eliminating the remains of oil that may remain.

2. Keep it in the mouth for 20 minutes 

It is an important step, because it is the stipulated time for the technique or treatment to really take effect, it is even recommended to carry out other types of activities while time passes, and if it is necessary to expel the oil, you can take a little more to your mouth to finish applying the necessary time.

3. Rinse with water and brush teeth normally

Proper brushing should not be excluded from oral hygiene for including this treatment, on the contrary, they are combined . It should be rinsed well and washed afterwards, in addition to using dental floss and mouthwash if that is what is usually done. 

What are the benefits of oil pulling?

This oil pulling treatment confers a list of benefits to the individuals who use it. These will be mentioned and described below, allowing their recognition and use:

1. Eliminates toxins from the mouth

As we mentioned before, bacteria are expelled before entering the body due to the active principle of oil pulling and the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of coconut oil , mainly due to its high concentrations of lauric acid. 

Note: In this way, the risks of contracting viral and anti-inflammatory health problems are reduced.

2. Prevents cavities

Due to the properties of coconut oil, oil pulling prevents the appearance of cavities, but it is important to note that it does not reduce existing conditions, nor does it whiten teeth. 

You should know: The technique of using coconut oil to reduce the risk of cavities comes from Ayurveda medicine , applied in India since at least 3,000 years ago. (two)

3. Reduces bacterial plaque

Due to the antiseptic qualities of coconut oil, oil pulling prevents the concentration of bacterial plaque on teeth. Lauric acid is also responsible for preventing the formation of plaque, since it eliminates bacteria and factors that cause this type of dental problems, such as streptococcus albicans, candida mutansand. (3)

4. Eliminates bad breath 

Bad breath is usually caused by a high concentration of bacteria in the oral cavity, especially in the area of ​​the tonsils, so the application of oil pulling reduces this on a large scale.

5. Reduces the risk of gingivitis 

The previously mentioned properties of coconut oil are responsible for reducing the risk of gingivitis and its symptoms, since they have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory capacities, which is why it is a highly recommended practice if it is a frequent or constant condition. 

6. Reduces bleeding gums and tooth sensitivity

These conditions usually come hand in hand with gingivitis, so the symptom-reducing effect provided by coconut oil is capable of also reducing inflammation that causes sensitivity and bleeding gums. 

To highlight: However, the reduction of plaque and the elimination of bacteria also has an important influence.  

7. Moisturizes the lips

The realization of oil pulling is as we know with coconut oil, so the presence of vitamin E and antioxidants greatly benefits the health of the skin of our lips, moisturizing and protecting them. (4)

8. Strengthens the jaw 

Among the benefits of oil pulling we can highlight the strengthening of the jaw. This is due to the effort that is made to rinse and also keep it in the mouth for the required period of time (20 minutes).

What risks does oil pulling have?

Studies and results obtained by the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease have mentioned the existing risk of developing lipoid pneumonia as a consequence of inhaling natural and mineral oils. However, there are also mentions of stomach problems developed for the same reason. (5)

Important: It is necessary to know the procedure well and consult it previously with a medical professional in the area (Dentist), thus reducing the possible risks for each individual.

Key Findings

  • Oil pulling is a practice that is at least 3,000 years old, with medicinal principles that was performed to detoxify the body.
  • This practice was initially carried out with sunflower and sesame oil, although currently coconut oil is the main one due to all its benefits and properties.
  • Oil pulling is an oral hygiene treatment carried out prior to brushing the teeth, thus allowing the elimination of the greatest amount of bacteria and subsequent total cleaning.
  • It is a procedure that eliminates bacterial load, plaque, bad breath and reduces the risk of suffering from gingivitis in addition to reducing symptoms.
  • It is important that oil pulling is carried out with good knowledge of the procedure and with medical approval, in order to reduce the risks of stomach upset or serious consequences such as oil aspiration.

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