Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Oil pulling" - what in the world?!

When I was in middle school Dr. Micky Webb's Orthodontic office was my second home. I had some sort of device in my mouth to try to widen my palate, correct my bite, and straighten my teeth for YEARS. They tried the horrible "cranker" palate expander on my three times, torture. Anyways, all of that moving and shifting caused my gums to recede because they were moved from their natural position. Receding gums are very common in the over 40 crowd (not there yet!) and the exposed roots can cause a lot of sensitivity. My dentist would always point them out, but they haven't bothered me until recently. Eating anything remotely cold is very uncomfortable and after I have a dental cleaning they are ultra sensitive - even cold air gets me. I really really really don't want to have the corrective surgery where they graft healthy tissue onto the receded area - painful and expensive. When I started researching alternative treatments "oil pulling" was always mentioned.

"Oil pulling" seems to be the latest granola fad and I see an article touting its benefits almost daily. Sounds very weird, but you swish oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. This Indian folk remedy (Ayurveda) has been used for thousands of years and many people swear that it helps with the following dental woes:
  • heals tooth decay
  • prevents bad breath
  • stops bleeding gums
  • improve receding gums even helps regrow tissue
  • whitens teeth
  • soothe throat dryness
  • heal cracked lips
It works by detoxifying the oral cavity which is a focal point for bacteria and microorganisms that mix with our saliva. These toxins eventually end up in our blood stream. The oil acts just like soap cleaning up dirty dishes - literally sucks the toxins out of your mouth creating a clean, antiseptic environment which leads to a happy healthy mouth. 

According to Dr. Marc Lowenberg, a NYC cosmetic dentist, its not just crazy talk "It's probably the most harmless natural remedy. There's no downside. The toxins in your body are fat-soluble so they join with the oil and are removed when you spit it out." he says. "Since the mouth is loaded with plaque, it makes sense there would be a reduction." Suffer from bad breath? Oil pulling may be the perfect remedy! According to Lowenberg "A lot of bad breath comes from bad bacteria. Whereas mouthwash makes your breath better for around 10 minutes, if this really takes the toxins out of your mouth, your breath should stay fresher longer."

As bizarre as oil pulling sounds there are so many people that swear by it (Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley included) that I had to give it a try. I have oil pulled about six days now and afterward your teeth feel awesome! So far it hasn't made a noticeable difference in my gum sensitivity but I'm going to give it a little more time. Here is what you do:

  1. Chose a high quality vegetable oil - most people use cold-pressed sunflower or sesame oils. I use raw coconut oil because I like the taste (not love, but like) and you can buy a huge 54 oz tub of it at Costco for $15.79. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but instantly melts in you mouth - it's really not that bad, I promise!
  2. You can oil pull any time, but the best time is right after you wake up on an empty stomach. Drink a glass of water to get your saliva flowing and then take about 1 tablespoon of oil into your mouth. While I have the coconut oil out I like to rub some onto my arms and legs - such an awesome moisturizer. 
  3. Swish it around for as long as you can "pulling" it between your teeth. Be relaxed with it or your jaw will get tired. Start out with about 5 minutes and work your way up to 15-20. 
  4. Spit it out in the trash can or toilet - DO NOT SWALLOW!! You don't want to spit it in the sink to prevent clogs. Don't be concerned if your oil and spit mixture is milky white or yellow, totally normal.
  5. Rinse your mouth out with warm water and use salt water for added antimicrobial properties.
  6. Go brush your teeth and enjoy how clean and smooth they feel! Another new routine you could add if you want is to use a tongue scraper to remove any oil left on your tongue - simply scrape from back to front. I recently bought this stainless steel "Dr Tung" one off Amazon for $7.60 (couldn't resist the name).
I agree that this all sounds really weird - REALLY weird, but I also thought that washing my face with honey was weird and I love it. I've opened myself up to trying different natural remedies - so much better than a surgical alternative and you just never know until you try it!!

Here are a couple scientific studies showing oil pulling efficacy study #1 and study #2.


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  3. 3 Studies SHOW Why Coconut Oil Kills Belly Fat.

    The meaning of this is that you actually get rid of fat by consuming Coconut Fat (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 researches from major medicinal journals are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world around!