A good news post about my oil pulling experiment!
So, it’s pretty common knowledge that I’ve been on this roller coaster ride to heal my gut (and autoimmune issues) over the past few months year or so. I talked about it in more detail in my post on the autoimmune protocol introduction and then again in the one about all disease begins in the gut. I think I may have mentioned the problems I have with my teeth and gums, too (in passing – not the sexiest topic!). All this teeth-stuff included some periodontal surgery earlier in the year following a particularly nasty gum infection.
Just as an aside – I don’t recommend periodontal surgery if you can possibly avoid it. Not much fun. Instead – look after your mouth!
As I continue to learn more and more about the importance of gut health, I am not really that surprised to discover periodontal health goes hand in hand with general health and well-being. At its most simple, it all comes down to an imbalance of bacteria – too many of the bad germy-Jims, and not nearly enough of the good ones. And, when your immune system is compromised, it’s almost impossible for your body to heal itself.
Well, on Tuesday of this week, I had the trifecta of dental appointments. It started early with the dentist, moved onto the hygienist and was rounded out with a meet up with my periodontist. As you might imagine, I wasn’t looking forward to it all.
I have been seeing my dentist a lot this year. Mainly because I had a crown fitted earlier in the year after cracking a back molar. It hasn’t been a smooth process. It seems nothing to do with my teeth and gums ever is!
The last time I visited my dentist was about the same time I started the gut healing protocol. I was going to have at least a month of being almost totally focused on healing myself. So, I thought it might just be time to give this oil pulling thing that I had been reading about a red-hot go. At the very least, I could commit to a daily regimen of oil pulling religiously for a month. Just one wee month. Just to see if he noticed a difference on my next visit. Sort of a ‘self-experiment’, if you will.
Don’t know what oil pulling is?
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy that uses natural oils to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It is reputed to have the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and there is some evidence that it is beneficial in improving gums and removing harmful bacteria – bonus!
The concept is really simple. You swish a couple of teaspoons of oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. You then spit it out and rinse thoroughly. Traditionally, back in India, oil pullers used virgin sesame oil. I use organic virgin coconut oil because it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and enzymatic properties. Plus, the smell of sesame oil first thing in the morning just doesn’t do it for me.
Oil pulling is best done in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. I do it while I’m in the shower.
But, exactly HOW do you conduct this oil pulling experiment?
1. Put 1-2 teaspoons of oil into your mouth. I use a couple of teaspoons of organic virgin coconut oil. I scoop it out as a solid, chew on it a few times and let it melt in my mouth before starting to swish. If you prefer the taste, you could add a drop or two of peppermint oil.
2. Swish around your mouth for 20 minutes. Suck and pull the liquid oil through your teeth and around your gums. Be careful not to swallow! Apparently the timing is key. You want to do it long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that the body starts re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria. You will find that the oil gets thicker and milky as it mixes with your saliva. It will increase in volume.
3. Spit out the oil into the rubbish bin. Don’t spit into the sink! It will block your sink as it hardens. And, definitely, don’t swallow the oil because it will be full of all the bacteria and toxins you’re working so hard to get rid of in your mouth.
4. Rinse well with warm water.
To be honest, it does take a little getting used to. It’s winter here, so the coconut oil takes some time to melt in my mouth before I start swishing. But, after the first 2 or 3 days, I found I got into a bit of a routine. It’s not difficult. And, I find swishing in the shower almost meditative. And, you do have to focus on the swishing – so, it keeps your mind other things (which – in my case – is a good thing!).
And now or the good news!
My dentist estimated between a 20 – 40% reduction in plaque build-up since my last visit a month ago. That’s just from oil pulling. My hygienist even danced a wee jig at the improved state of my gum health since she last saw me 6 months ago. And, while that is certainly not all due to the oil pulling – pretty sure my gut healing is having some effect – the reduction in plaque build-up is.
I think I’m going to keep on oil pulling. It’s now part of my morning ritual.
Postscript: Over five years later and oil pulling is firmly entrenched in my health toolbox. For more details, check out Oil Pulling As Part of an Oral Hygiene Protocol
I love oil pulling! And how exciting that your efforts have resulted in improvements in such as relatively short time. I’d say a jig from a dental hygienist is a definitive indicator for your self-experiments!
I do have a rather lovely hygienist, Petra – she’s form Saskatchewan and married to a Kiwi! Clearly, a woman with great taste!
Oh blimey. I think, on the basis of this post, that I’ll have to give it another go. Like you, my gut health has been absolutely dreadful and like you I’ve been having a good long bash at getting it sorted (3 years of GAPS and now paleo). Also like you I’ve had dreadful gum and tooth problems – gum and bone loss, resorption (a particularly nasty thing), and like you I’m putting it down to my gut health. I did give pulling a go a while back but because I have an overactive gag reflex, it didn’t go too well. But you know, your story of plaque reduction is seductive (lawd, how do any of us ever get to the stage where such a thing could be seductive?!). So I shall give it another whack. Good luck with the continuance of yours.
Hey PP – thanks for your lengthy comment. It had been suggested to me that I might be ‘over-sharing’ with my oil pulling experience, but your feedback makes me glad I posted about the whole thing. Gum & teeth issues are no joke – and hard for those who don’t experience them to understand.
I have actually had some bone regeneration (which made me SO happy) and I believe it to be a direct result of this gut healing and sugar-free AIP protocol that I have been on. Obviously, given the plaque reduction I have experienced after only a month of oil pulling, I’m an absolute convert.
I am taking CoQ10 for my gum health.
No, not over sharing at all as far as I’m concerned. These are strangely personal matters but shared by many. I think we tend to grapple with them alone because we don’t know who else shares them. It’s good to see them written about, especially when there is good news appended. And you’re right – gum and teeth problems are no joke. They are oddly scary. Bone regeneration is something I could really get my teeth into (so to speak).
I’m taking Q10 for heart and fatigue – both of which are problems of mine. Can I ask how much you’re taking for your gums?
PP – I have to say, I was so happy about the bone regeneration! I take 1 CoQ10 capsule twice daily. But, I’ve also been on this gut healing regimen (I currently take 18 pills in the morning!!!) and I think it’s got a lot to do with the changing nature of my micro biome. I’m hoping I’m finally on the right track.
Aaaaah… this almost makes me want to try it again. I couldn’t get past the initial ick factor and kept having a gag reflex with the coconut oil. Part of that is probably the strong flavor of the oil we use (TJ’s!), but also just the sensation of oil in my mouth. Maybe I’ll try it one more time…
SoA – try a tiny bit of essential oil like peppermint in the coconut oil – it addresses the flavour issue. There’s no escaping the initial ‘chew factor’ to start the oil melting. Think of it like an M n M…!
I’ll have to try this! I’ve been meaning to but now you’ve motivated me. I’ll keep you posted — and probably post about it as well! Of course, I’ll give you a shout-out. 🙂 Let’s chat soon!
Hey lovely J! How’s Texas?
Would love to hear all your news… 🙂
You didn’t mention, do you brush your teeth after oil pulling? Or how many times do you brush a day? What about flossing?
Too funny! Yes – I brush and I floss AND I have a very unsexy dental routine at night which involves all sorts of paraphernalia…
I oil pull first thing and don’t brush until after breakfast. And, I no longer use commercial toothpastes. Instead, I use one with essential oils (On Guard by Doterra).
Hope that helps!
WOW, would I beable to keep liquid swirling around my mouth for 20 mins? Unlikely, without swallowing or spitting out – did you build up to 20 mins?
I didn’t have any issues, K. But, my super-fab’ hygienist said she had to work up to it. The trick is not to put too much oil in your mouth – it increases in volume over the course of the ‘swish process’!
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