The mouth is the gateway. It can be a gateway to blessings and health or curses and death. On a physical level, the mouth is the entryway for most of what we ingest. Most of us are aware of what we eat and how it tastes. What we’re not so aware of are the things that are already in our mouths, even when we wake up in the morning.
Microbes, Bacteria, Viruses, Germs
I’ve been doing some research on the inhabitants of the mouth. From what I’ve read we have billions of microbes multiplying every minute of the day. Some are good and some aren’t. The good bacteria help us to digest our food the bad ones make us sick. It’s startling to find out how much of an impact these mouth inhabitants have on our health.
Weston a Price Research
Over 70 years ago Dr. Weston A Price conducted extensive research involving tooth bacteria. Over a period of 25 years he uncovered the fact that the bacteria in our mouth is responsible for a host of our ailments.
Dr. Price took extracted root canalled teeth from humans and implanted it under the skin of an animal. According to WebMD: “Root canal procedures are performed when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp becomes damaged. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.” By this definition, one would assume the root canalled tooth is sterile and free from bacteria. And, if there were bacteria, the tooth is sealed so it couldn’t get out. Wrong assumption.
What Dr. Price found was the implanted animal developed the same ailments as the person the tooth was extracted from. For example, an animal with an implanted tooth extracted from a person with kidney disease developed kidney disease. The same happened with heart disease, joint problems, etc.
Dr. Price found the root canalled teeth were not bacteria free and thus led to the development of the conditions. Additionally, if a person had more than one root canal, each tooth had different strains of bacteria inhabiting it, thus leading to a myriad of symptoms.
The Root Canal Question
It is not my goal to determine whether or not root canals are beneficial. Dr. Price’s information got me to thinking about how the inhabitants in our mouth affect our general health.
In his study, Dr. Price discovered the culprit harboring the bacteria isn’t the pulp that’s removed along with the nerve in the root canal. The culprit is the dentin that surrounds the pulp (the orange stuff in the picture to the right).
The dentin has tiny tubules where the bacteria live. By removing the pulp, the bacteria hiding in the tubules have an obstruction-free pathway to come and go as they please. Removing the nerve and pulp may stop the pain, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
Getting Back to the Mouth
We’ve established there are microbes in the mouth (consisting of bacteria, viruses and fungi). If you clicked on the multiplying daily link above, and read the article, you learned that if left alone, the microbe population will double every 4 or so hours thus leading to a staggering number of microbes in your mouth by the end of the day. Actually, they don’t all stay in your mouth. They get absorbed into your blood stream and you also swallow a large portion of them throughout the day.
The condition of our mouth has much to do with the condition of our bodies. A healthy mouth leads to a healthy body. So, it behooves us to have as healthy a mouth as possible.
Conventional wisdom has us brushing with fluorinated toothpaste, flossing and using anti-microbial mouthwash daily. Unfortunately, fluoride is unhealthy and using fluorinated toothpaste is unwise (just read the warning on the back of the label). Using mouthwash helps, but the quick rinse technique used by so many on-the-go people, isn’t long enough to make a serious dent in the bacteria population.
In addition to our oral hygiene routine, we need to dump the sugars and starches. Bacteria love carbohydrates. A carb heavy diet helps promote bacteria proliferation.
Reducing Mouth Bacteria Population
After discovering the above information, I searched for a doable daily routine that would help reduce the bacteria population and came across oil pulling.
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic ritual dating back thousands of years. Practiced regularly, oil pulling will significantly reduce the bacteria population of the mouth. By getting rid of the steady diet of harmful bacteria, the body begins to heal itself.
What is Oil Pulling?
Oil pulling is the practice of swishing a small amount of oil in your mouth for a period of 15 to 20 minutes. The bacterium leeches onto the oil and is spat out with the oil.
I started a little over a week ago. The first day I had a difficult time swishing for 20 minutes so I did 7. After spitting, rinsing and brushing, my teeth felt cleaner than they did with just brushing.
The rest of the week I oil pulled twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. There were several things I noticed:
- My teeth seem a smidge lighter. I’m a coffee drinker so over the years my teeth lost their pearly whiteness. I see a hint of them getting a little lighter (it’s a tiny hint that no one but me notices).
- My teeth feel awesome. It feels like I had a dental cleaning. They’re so smooth and clean.
- Removal of plaque. I don’t suffer with much plaque, but I do know flossing is imperative for me, especially between my front top teeth. After flossing I can blow air between the little spaces between my front teeth. Since oil pulling, I can blow air between the little spaces even if I don’t floss. I guess there was some plaque there, but it’s gone now.
- Sound sleep. I don’t know how oil pulling improves my sleep, but my sleeps are deeper and I am well rested when I awake.
Some people notice improved gums, tightening of loose teeth, skin improvement, diminished joint pain, reduction in migraines, reduction of periodontal pockets, positive dental reports and much more.
Here’s a quote from an Abstract on Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health from the US National Library of Medicine website, “Scientific validations of the Ayurveda dental health practices could justify their incorporation into modern dental care. Publicity of these techniques using appropriate media would benefit the general population by giving more confidence in the ancient practices, thus preventing tooth decay and loss.”
How to Oil Pull
I use organic virgin coconut oil, but you can use extra virgin olive oil, sesame, sunflower or safflower oil. Just as long as they’re organic, unrefined and cold pressed.
Some instructions recommend a tablespoon of oil. I take a ½ to ¾ of a teaspoon and start swishing. I tried using more oil, but it made me gag. I find a smaller amount of oil in the mouth makes it easier for me to last for 20 minutes. Maybe as I get more accustomed to the practice, I’ll increase it, but for now this amount works just fine.
Swish for 20 minutes and spit. If you can’t last for the full 20 minutes, not a problem. I’ve done 5 minutes spit, add more oil and swished again until I reached a total of 20 minutes.
After oil pulling, I clean my tongue, wash my mouth several times with a water/baking soda solution, then I brush and floss my teeth.
It is recommended to oil pull first thing in the morning before having food or beverage or 3 or more hours after eating.
What to do When Oil Pulling?
The thought of a high concentration of microscopic nasties swarming around my mouth is too much to focus on so I occupy myself by cleaning, answering emails or engaging in any swish compatible task (talking on the phone is not swish compatible).
Oil pulling is becoming easier and easier so I fully intend to make this a daily practice for the rest of my life.
If you’ve never heard of oil pulling, don’t take my word for it. Do your own research and come up with your own conclusion. After you’ve decided, come back and let me know how it’s going (after much research I’m sure you’ll end up pulling).