We all know how important dental health is—not just for the brightness of our smiles but for our general well-being. We diligently floss and brush twice a day and go to the dentist every few months to have our teeth scaled and polished, X-rays taken, and a fluoride treatment. But do these treatments really work?
The Dangers of Conventional Dentistry
We’ve known for decades that X-rays damage tissues, even at the basic DNA level (1). Dental hygienists will dismiss concern and say it’s safe but there’s an ongoing debate in the medical community about the necessity and safety of frequent x-rays.
And then there’s fluoride. The dentist and hygienist say that’s safe, too. Hundreds of medical studies say otherwise: it’s a known neurotoxin. Its efficacy in preventing dental cavities has never been definitively determined and is currently in dispute worldwide (2).
Despite being aware of these risks, we don’t even blink when we sit in the dentist’s chair, for fear that rejecting these services will result in a root canal or other traumatic dental interventions.
The Better Way To Clean your Teeth
There is a millennia-old Ayurvedic method for cleaning the mouth called “gundusha” or “kavala”. In English, the practice is translated as “oil pulling”.
The method is simple:
- On an empty stomach, take one tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil in your mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes once a day. The oil will take with it harmful bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.
- Spit out the oil and thoroughly rinse your mouth. Feel free to brush if you like.
Your saliva will break down the oil during swishing, making it less viscous and more like a soap. If you find it difficult to hold the oil in your mouth for the full twenty minutes, start with half the time and work your way up to twenty.
You may ask if oil pulling is scientifically proven for having any positive effect on oral health. The answer is a resounding “yes”.
One study on the use of sesame oil found that in as little as ten days:
“The oil pulling therapy showed a reduction in the plaque index, modified gingival scores, and total colony count of aerobic microorganisms in the plaque of adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis.” (3).
In 2014, the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research published a study that concentrated specifically on the effects of (sesame) oil pulling versus chlorhexidine mouthwash on bad breath.
“Oil pulling with sesame oil is equally efficacious as chlorhexidine in reducing oral malodor and microbes causing it. It should be promoted as a preventive home care therapy.”(4).
Sesame isn’t the only oil that works.
Here’s what researchers have said about the use of coconut oil:
“The oil film thus formed on the surface of the teeth and the gingiva can reduce plaque adhesion and bacterial co aggregation…The significant reduction in gingivitis can be attributed to decreased plaque accumulation and the anti-inflammatory, emollient effect of coconut oil.” (5).
It’s All in the Motion
The antibacterial properties of the oil in combination with the action of swishing liquid around in the mouth removes harmful bacteria not only from the surface of the teeth but also from the surrounding tissues.
It’s important to note that oil pulling doesn’t replace flossing and brushing but is a holistic tool meant to improve your dental health.