Keeping your teeth and mouth healthy requires regular brushing and flossing. However, what about mouthwash? Or oil pulling? Although both mouthwash and oil pulling provide oral health benefits, they aren't the same. You can decide what's best for your smile by learning more about both.
Oil pulling: what is it?
The practice of oil pulling involves swishing oil around in your mouth for a few minutes, then spitting it out when it's milky and thin. The technique, originating in Ayurvedic Medicine, has been scientifically proven to remove bacteria that can cause gingivitis.
Mouthwash: Do We Need It?
By acting as an antiseptic, mouthwashes can freshen breath, make the mouth feel clean, and help remove plaque-causing bacteria.
Choosing between oil pulling vs. mouthwash
Most mouthwashes work by killing bacteria in the mouth, gums, and teeth by rinsing them with a bacteria-killing antiseptic solution. While effective this can disrupt the delicate balance of the mouth and in some cases make symptoms more severe.
Oil pulling on the other hand uses natural oils to help cleanse the oral cavity without dehydrating the oral tissue like alcohol-based mouthwashes.
Mouthwashes are associated with side effects such as:
Canker sore irritation- The elevated alcohol content in mouthwashes can irritate mouth sores
Oral cancer- The relationship between oral cancer and mouthwashes is yet debatable and lacks a clear scientific answer
Short-lived freshness- Alcohol-based mouthwash might give a feeling of fresh breath but it is short-lived as it can actually make bad breath worse by dehydrating the mouth.
Oil pulling for tooth pain, reduced plaque, and gingivitis - Is it effective?
In a study involving 60 adults, oil pulling with coconut oil for 10 minutes daily significantly reduced Streptococcus mutans counts in saliva within two weeks, compared with distilled water. These bacteria naturally form in your mouth and can accumulate on the surface of your teeth, contributing to tooth decay and cavities.
Another oil pulling study conducted on children showed coconut oil to be as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash in lowering oral S. mutans counts.
When plaque-forming bacteria begin to thrive, gingivitis occurs. In 2009, 20 male adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis were compared to oil-pulling and chlorhexidine mouthwash. There was a significant reduction in gingivitis with both mouthwash and oil pulling.
How do you do oil pulling?
Oil pulling is very easy to do! It involves swishing about one teaspoon of coconut oil or other essential oils in the mouth for 3-5 minutes, after which the oil is spat in the bin. If you are not a fan of the taste of coconut or sesame oil opt for a specially formulated oil-pulling blend like the Keeko Morning Mint Oil Pulling Sachets that contain mouth-loving essential oils including Peppermint Oil.
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