Oil Pulling

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I hear his greeting bark through the door before I even put the key to the lock.

Rocky, my wonderful lab/chow mix is always found waiting by the door eager to usher me back into the home. I love to hear his woo-woo-woo type barks as his excitement grows with every inch the door opens.

Once through the threshold my heart smiles as he wiggles around with his little jig aka donut-spins around my feet. It’s his toothy snarl as he looks up at me, the top of his nose crinkled to reveal his pearly white canines that welcomes me the most.

A plain ol’ happy-go-lucky doggy smile.

For us, teeth when exposed by an upward pull of the checks and the turning up of the lips brings on a smile reminding us about our own pearly whites gleaming out and their importance in our lives.

Many don’t realize that a healthy mouth helps make for a healthy body. Starting from the ability to have strong teeth to chew our foods, not having teeth creates a whole new challenge to eating. But even the whole body is affected in another way.

It is now established that gum disease starts from the build up from bacteria on the teeth which makes the gums inflamed and more prone to infection. Over time the chemicals that are released along with the inflammation eat away at the gums and bones resulting in periodontitis, a severe gum disease. It’s the inflammation and the overrun of bacteria that causes havoc to the rest of the body.

Diabetes and periodontitis are strongly linked. The inflammation in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Then the high blood sugar in the body provides ideal conditions for infections to grow, including the infection already occurring in the mouth. It’s not a good cycle.

Good oral hygiene and regular appointments at the dentist all play into keeping a good set of choppers. But here’s an interesting tool to keep your teeth in the best of health. It’s called oil pulling. The concept here is swishing oil in the mouth for 20 minutes actually pulls the buildup of bad bacteria away and leaves the beneficial microflora behind.

My first reaction was of skepticism, but since it is a simple procedure I decided to try it. Just after the first try, my teeth felt wonderful, my mouth clean. Though one time isn’t enough really for improving gum health, I could tell there is something to it so I continued and simply love the results.

Oil swishing is really a simple concept. The mouth is the ideal place for bacteria to thrive – warm, humid and at a constant temperature. The human mouth contains more bacteria than a dog’s mouth (which amazes me considering the places their mouths end up).

Oil pulling dramatically decreases the billions of bacteria the mouth contains making the gums tighter, stronger and less likely to bleed. This leads to the mouth becoming a stronger barrier against harmful bacteria, giving the body energy to concentrate on its innate healing abilities on other areas of the body.

A couple of studies show that oil swished over a period of two weeks does decrease the bacteria and reduces plaque and is as beneficial as using mouthwash containing chlorhexidine (a chemical antiseptic that kills Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium responsible for tooth decay and cavities).

How does oil decrease the bacteria? It seems the bacteria themselves have an oily membrane that adheres to the oil swishing around the mouth then gets spit out after the swishing session. How does s person oil pull? I must admit, it was uncomfortable at first, and I ended up swallowing some of it (gag!), but it becomes super easy over time.

First thing getting out of bed, before drinking water, before brushing teeth, take one teaspoon of one of these unrefined oils into your mouth: sunflower, sesame or coconut (I prefer coconut for the taste factor) and swish and swish and swish gently, not vigorously, between the teeth all inside the mouth for 20 minutes. Then spit it out. It should be a milky substance. Afterwards brush the teeth with sea salt to eliminate any lingering bacteria (salt is antimicrobial).

Over time the amount of bacteria diminishes. Some advocate it every day. I find 3-4 times a week is good for me.

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