Did you know that there is a connection between your oral health and your overall health? Growing research shows that there is a relationship between the bacteria in the mouth – and the inflammation it causes – and a lot of other diseases, according to Dr. Donald Ratliffe, chairman of the department of dental science at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.
The mouth is a portal into the rest of the body, so maintaining good oral hygiene is important to your overall health. In some cases, oral problems can be a symptom of certain diseases, such as diabetes. Research has also linked gum disease to heart disease, premature birth, and even knee arthritis.
You already know that brushing and flossing your teeth regularly are critical to maintaining good oral health. Another way to improve your oral hygiene is to use the oil pulling technique. Have you heard of this practice?
Oil pulling is a simple oral detoxification procedure that is done by swishing a tablespoon of oil around in your mouth for about 10-20 minutes. The practice of oil pulling is an old Indian folk remedy and has primarily been used in Ayurvedic medicine. Kind of like a holistic mouthwash, it helps to reduce bacteria and can also help to reduce the effect of cavities on the teeth. Ayurvedic science says that the different parts of the tongue are connected to different parts of the body, so as you swish the oil in your mouth, the action releases enzymes that can draw toxins from the blood and throughout the whole body as well. This makes the oil quite toxic, so it is important to note that the oil should never be swallowed.
Oral Health for Overall Health
Dr. Bruce Fife writes in his book Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing, “By looking into the mouth, you can tell a great deal about a person’s health. Cavity-riddled teeth, swollen and inflamed gums, bad breath, discoloration on the tongue, receding and bleeding gums, yellowed teeth, plaque and tarter buildup, dental fillings, missing teeth, etc., are all signs reflecting a person’s state of health.”
Although this practice has been around for a long time (it’s first recorded in history about 5000 years ago), it hasn’t been popular in the Western world and very little scientific interest until recently. Now there are many reports and findings that are indicating the symptoms of allergies, common cough and colds, gum disease, infections of the ear, nose and throat, and pain from headaches, migraines, and tooth, neck or back pain can all be improved simply by oil pulling. Other benefits include whiter teeth, increased energy, healthier gums and clearer sinuses – all from adding this one step to your morning brushing & flossing routine!
A Word of Caution
If you still have amalgams (mercury/silver fillings), you want to be cautious and talk with a biological dentist before trying oil pulling. Mercury is one of the most toxic of the naturally occurring heavy metals, and amalgam fillings that contain mercury are considered to be a common cause of illness by an increasingly large number of medical researchers.
As the primary source of human exposure to mercury, a person with amalgam fillings could be absorbing up to 100 micrograms of mercury per day. It is documented that chewing gum can actually cause mercury to escape from fillings up to twenty times faster than normal, however, there isn’t a lot of research about whether or not oil pulling will do the same; although there have been some reports of oil pulling causing loose fillings to become even more loose.
If you are planning to have dental amalgams removed, be sure it is done by a qualified practitioner of biological dentistry. It’s important that they are removed properly for your overall health. To find a biological dentist in your area, go to the Campaign for Mercury Free Dentistry website, then click on “Find a Dentist.”
How to Oil Pull
The first step to incorporating oil pulling in your morning habit is to choose a high-quality, sesame, olive or coconut oil. Any one of these would be fine, as long as they are organic and unrefined. To avoid rancidity, it’s also best to purchase oils in dark glass that prevents the sunlight from reaching them.
I personally like using a tablespoon of coconut oil with a drop of therapeutic grade essential oils added to it. Two of my favorites are the Young Living Thieves® Vitality™ and the Peppermint Vitality™. Combined with coconut oil; I think the flavor is quite refreshing. Plus you have the added benefits provided by these oils. Thieves® helps to support your immune system and overall wellness, while Peppermint supports healthy gut function and digestive efficiency.
To make oil pulling a healthy part of your day:
- Getting in the habit of oil pulling first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, provides the best results. Keep the oil where you will see it every morning as a reminder.
- Place 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around gently. If you have the urge to spit it out, try starting out with a smaller amount and working up to the tablespoon. You can also discard the oil and start over, just deduct the amount of time you’ve already swished from the total recommended time. You can go about your normal morning routine as you do this, which will make the time go by faster than just standing in front of the sink!
- As you swish the oil around your mouth, it mixes with your saliva as if you were chewing. This activates the enzymes that draw out the toxins. Within 10-15 minutes or so, the blood from the entire body has circulated through vessels in the mouth causing toxins to be pulled from the blood and into the oil.
- After 10-20 minutes, discard the oil into a trash can (spitting into the sink can clog the drain; and the saliva contains bacteria and toxic bodily waste you don’t want in your sink.) Don’t be shocked if the oil/saliva mixture you spit out is milky white or yellow. If swishing this long is too hard, start with just 2-5 minutes and gradually work up to the total time.
- For best results, rinse your mouth with salt water or soda water for added antimicrobial properties. (Use ½ teaspoon of sea salt or aluminum-free baking soda to one cup of water) then brush and floss as normal. I prefer to brush with Thieves® toothpaste as an added benefit.
If the thought of scooping out a tablespoon of oil to put in your mouth isn’t appealing, you can make bite-sized molds that are easy to use and are nearly the perfect amount of oil recommended:
Melt one cup of coconut oil, then pour into a silicone mold (I like this one). Add 1-2 drops of your preferred essential oil to each mold. As always, I recommend and use Young Living essential oils. Place the molds in the refrigerator to harden and once they are done, place them in a container on your countertop. You may need to keep the container in the fridge if it is especially warm.
Many people report that their teeth and gums feel cleaner, and their breath is fresher when they add oil pulling to their daily routine. Why not try it today, making it a part of your daily hygiene and detoxification routine?