Have you ever heard of using coconut oil for gum disease?
This might be new to most of us.
In fact, I chanced upon this while trying to investigate how gum disease can be prevented. So let’s explore whether coconut oil can really treat gum disease, and let me know if you would be keen to try it.
What is Oil Pulling?
When we talk about using coconut oil, oil pulling is commonly the method used.
So first, we need to understand what oil pulling is. Oil Pulling is an ancient Indian remedy to clean the mouth and teeth.
Sounds weird, right, using coconut oil? In your mouth? However, I discovered that this practice has been around for around 3000 years!
Now let’s get to the details.
The phrase “oil pulling” comes from the process of the oil being “worked” in the mouth by pulling, pushing, and sucking it through the teeth.
The procedure involves swishing one tablespoon of oil around in your mouth. As the oil hits your teeth and gums, microbes are being attracted to the oil particles. From within the teeth, bacteria and harmful substances are being sucked out of their hiding places and held firmly in the solution.
Bite and clench your teeth gently together as you move the oil back and forth, and around inside the mouth.
The longer you push and pull the oil through your mouth, the more microbes are pulled free. The oil needs to be swished around long enough for it to turn a milky white, which indicates that the bacteria has been “pulled” off.
After 20 minutes, the solution is filled with bacteria, viruses and other organisms. Spit out the oil into a plastic bag for disposal. Rinse mouth thoroughly with water, and continue the tooth brushing routine.
While putting oil into your mouth and swishing around for about 20 minutes may not sound very delicious compared with eating a fried chicken, bear with me as I list the benefits as follows:
Benefits of Oil Pulling
- Reduce the risk of gingivitis. Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, involves inflammation of the gums. Harmful bacteria cause excess buildup of dental plaque, and in time, leads to gum diseases.
- Prevent tooth decay and cavities. If this practice can reduce bacteria, there is less chance of having a tooth go bad with tooth decay. It can also help with teeth whitening and receding gums.
- Reduce bad breath. Bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis, is in many cases caused by the smell of chemicals and gases produced by bacteria in your mouth. If you get rid of some of these bacteria and improve your oral health, you have less likelihood of having bad breath.
How to do it?
The technique is similar to how you would ordinarily use mouthwash; however with oil pulling, it is recommended that you swish the oil in your mouth for up to 5 to 20 minutes.
Keen to try this at home? You will be pleased to know that it only takes 4 simple steps.
1. Put about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth.
2. Swish the oil around your mouth for about 15–20 minutes.
3. Spit out the oil into a cup and dispose into a dustbin. Never spit direct into a sink, unless you want oil clogged sinks down the line.
4. Then brush your teeth as usual.
Sounds simple, right?
There is no need to use a lot of force. Oil pulling should not cause any pain in your facial muscles, just relax a bit.
Coconut oil or if you prefer sesame oil is edible, but try not to swallow any.
You could start with lesser oil and increase the amount next time.
Who has succeeded in using it?
There is no lack of testimonies that this method does work. People who have adopted oil pulling as part of their morning routine, do take a while to get used to it. One can start at 10 minutes, 3 times a week and the increase to 20 minutes 3 times a week. It is not necessary to do it daily. Those who tried it loved how their mouth feel after swishing and that feeling lasted the whole day. They felt their tooth sensitivity diminishing substantially.
Why coconut oil
Coconut oil is preferred because 50% of the fat in coconut oil comprises of the bacteria whooping ingredient – lauric acid. Lauric acid is very well known for its antimicrobial actions; it inhibits Strepmutans that are the primary bacteria that cause tooth decay.
When to do it?
Usually the best routine is to start first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, before brushing your teeth. Some may choose to do it while showering or bathing in the morning.
Homemade Toothpaste with Coconut oil
If you cannot stomach the smell of coconut oil, why not make homemade toothpaste with coconut oil?
Here is a simple recipe:
0.5 cup of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of baking soda
10 – 20 drops of peppermint oil
1. Heat the coconut oil until it becomes soft.
2. Stir in the baking soda and mix until it becomes a paste-like consistency.
3. Add the essential oil.
4. Store the toothpaste in a sealed container.
5. To use, scoop a pea size onto your toothbrush, and brush for 2 minutes, then rinse it.
At the minimum, you are going to get the benefits of including coconut oil in your daily oral care, as coconut oil contains lots of easily digestible, fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K. Vitamin A is good for the immune system, Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties for the skin and provides some protection against UV rays. Vitamin D is good for strong bones and teeth.
Possible Side Effects and Dangers
There are possible side effects of oil pulling.
One of them is lipoid pneumonia, which is a lung disease caused by inhaling oily substances. Accidental swallowing or inhaling large amounts while swishing oil could get oil into your air passages and lungs.
Another side effect could be an upset stomach and diarrhoea. Gargling a large amount of coconut as it doubles, will cause you to feel nauseous if you have a weak stomach, to begin with.
Other side effects could include dry mouth, muscle stiffness, and loss of taste.
Children under 5 years old and those who are allergic to any oil like coconut, sesame, sesame oil should not try oil pulling at all.
What it cannot do
Oil pulling cannot replace your usual daily tooth brushing routine, and the annual dentist visits.
Oil pulling does not reverse the effects of tooth decay, and it’s important that if you already experience slight gum discomforts, it is best to seek professional help.
I believe there are multiple ways to combat gum diseases. Having good daily oral habits is already a good start, coupled with watching our diets and remembering our annual dental appointments.
Keep searching until you find one method or product that you are most comfortable with, and works for you. It may take time, but there will be one that will end up as your favourite and you will become a loyal user of it.
So let me know in the comments below what are your thoughts, and whether you would try oil pulling at home.
Perhaps you may prefer a store-made option instead of trying to create your own. If you have any questions or suggestions or have tried oil pulling, I will be happy to hear from you. Share them in the box below.
Meanwhile, stay tuned as I share how to have healthy gums naturally, thus preventing gum diseases.