Surprise Your Dentist with Healthier Teeth: Part 2
Oil Pulling Revisited
Have you heard about oil pulling? We posted an article on the purported benefits of this practice a little while ago. You can read it in its entirety, here.
Already familiar with oil pulling? Here’s a quick recap on the benefits:
Most people who practice oil pulling report fresher breath, whiter teeth, and ‘cleaner feeling’ mouths. There are also studies that show that dry mouth, gingivitis and plaque decrease significantly when oil pulling is added to a normal oral health routine that includes the usual brushing, rinsing and flossing.
This is because oil pulling removes bacteria from the mouth.
Great news, right?
Turns out, though, there are downsides to oil pulling that should not be ignored. If you’re oil pulling regularly or thinking about adding it to your routine, you need to know what the risks are.
Oil Pulling: The Bad News
If you are a regular reader here on the Activation Products blog, then you probably already know how important good bacteria are for your gut health (and how that extends to the overall health of your entire body).
We’ve talked a lot in the past about prebiotics and probiotics for encouraging a strong population of healthy bacteria in the gut. The name for the ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes that live in your gut is the microbiome.
Well, it turns out that your mouth has a microbiome too! According to Dr. Ellie Phillips, DDS, a holistic dentist and author of Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, there are more than 900 species of bacteria living in your mouth and only 20 of them are bad for you.
What this means is that when you oil pull you’re pulling all of the bacteria out of your mouth, including the beneficial ones that you need to maintain a healthy environment in there. As Dr. Phillips says, this may make your mouth clean but it doesn’t make your mouth healthy.
Should You Oil Pull?
So now we know more about oil pulling and what it’s really doing in your mouth but the question remains, should you or shouldn’t you?
Well, this is a really individual question. For people who have periodontal disease or an infection in their mouths, oil pulling can be a very helpful and healthful short-term addition to a daily oral health routine.
Dr. Phillips recommends that you use high-quality sesame oil rather than coconut if you are going to oil pull for a short time while you resolve these issues.
On the other hand, if your mouth is relatively healthy and you’re just looking to make it healthier still, oil pulling is probably not the way to go.
If you have receding gums or tooth sensitivity you should definitely not oil pull as it may make those problems worse by damaging your mouth’s healthy biofilm (the layer of good bacteria that coats your teeth and keeps bad bacteria and other harmful things from hurting your teeth and gums).
If you want a healthier mouth with stronger, whiter teeth there are things you can do.
Dr. Phillips recommends using 100% xylitol products, like mints and gum (don’t worry, xylitol is a natural substance!). Xylitol is a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria and alkalizes the mouth while making your teeth slippery so that plaque falls off your teeth.
You can also follow up any eating or drinking with foods that alkalize the mouth to prevent acidity from negatively affecting your mouth’s microbiome. Our recent post on oral health and its implications for your overall health includes a pdf with a list of mouth-friendly foods.
We also recommend that you check out Dr. Phillips’ book where she explains her daily oral health protocol for remineralizing your teeth and maintaining a healthy mouth.
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